What the Other Three Don’t Know by Spencer Hyde

What the Other Three Don't Know by Spencer Hyde

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Book Review of What the Other Three Don't Know by Spencer Hyde

I have only been white-water rafting one time, and it wasn’t even on a scary river. I went as a leader for a church youth group, and we got to do zip lines, mountain climbing, and white-water rafting. We had so much fun! One of the girls that was in our boat lost her shoe on the river, but what was more nerve-wracking was that she almost fell out at a really bad time. We were really glad that we just lost her shoe and not her! Overall, I had a great time, but I don’t know that I’d want to do a five day trip on a river! In Spencer Hyde’s new book What the Other Three Don’t Know, four youth spend five days on the Snake River. Along the way, they find out a lot more about each other, their guide, and the secrets they all keep.

Blurb:

Will I still be loved if I show people who I really am?  
Four high school seniors. Four secrets about to be told.

If Indie had it her way, she would never choose to river raft with three other high school seniors, mostly strangers to each other, from her journalism class.

A loner, a jock, an outsider, an Instagram influencer. At first they can’t see anything that they have in common. As the trip unfolds, the unpredictable river forces them to rely on each other. Social masks start to fall as, one-by-one, each teen reveals a deep secret the other three don’t know.

One is harboring immense grief and unwilling to forgive after the death of a loved one. One is dealing with a new disability and an uncertain future. One is fearful of the repercussions of coming out. One is hiding behind a carefully curated “perfect” image on Instagram.

Before they get to the end of Hells Canyon, they’ll know the truth about each other and, more importantly, learn something new about themselves.

What the Other Three Don’t Know is a poignant and gripping YA novel about the unlikely friends who accept you for who you really are and the power of self-acceptance.”

My Book Review:

One lesson I’ve learned in my life is that if you want to get to know someone better, you need to spend time with them. Hanging out is good, but a vacation together is even better! It’s especially better if you don’t have cell phone service or tv or any other distraction devices. When you get to know someone better, you begin to feel more comfortable sharing who you really are. You start to let down your guard and bring your walls down. It’s a good thing! That is exactly what happened when Indie, Skye, Wyatt, and Shelby spent five days together, with their guide, in Hell’s Canyon on the Snake River.

I liked this book a lot! It is well written, and the characters make the story! Each character has his or her own unique story. Have you heard the saying that has gone around lately that you need to be kind to everyone because everyone is fighting a personal battle? That sentiment is the basis for this book. Each one of the high school seniors has a secret, and each one is afraid to let down the walls surrounding him or her. As these teenagers spend time getting to know each other, and their strengths and weaknesses, they begin to see that they aren’t all that different. They begin to see commonalities, and they start to see each other in a different light.

The characters in this book are very well written and thought out. The events that occur are not overdone or too dramatically written. There are some tense moments, but the writing allows it all to feel real and raw. As you read you can feel the emotions of the characters, and you also begin to relate to each of them. The writing style draws you into this world, and you really feel as if you are in that raft feeling the spray of the water and the danger of the situation.

There are some difficult things discussed in this book. Death, disability, and LGBT feelings are only a few. I like how the trip (for the characters) and the book (for the readers) provide a safe place to talk about hard issues. I think it is important for everyone to find a safe place to talk about the hard things in our lives. If you have a friend, family member, therapist, church leader, or school official that you can confide in—a connection—then you have a better chance at resolving your issues and feeling more loved.

I think this is a great YA book. Many YA will be able to see that it is ok to let your guard down, to not be perfect, and to get help if you need it. I love the themes of hard work, working together, helping each other, listening without judgment, accepting and loving without judgment, and being brave enough to talk about your feelings with others. Another thing I love is that this book allows YA (and all readers) to see that even the “popular people” struggle with things. Even the “popular people” aren’t perfect and feel insecure. This is a good thing for high school students to learn, because it makes people much more approachable and relatable.

Content Rating PG-13Rating: PG-13 (There are a couple of minor swear words–the canyon is called Hell’s Canyon, and there are some very tense and scary moments, but there isn’t any violence or “intimacy.” There are also some difficult themes discussed which may be too much for younger readers.)

Recommendation: YA (13-18)+

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

Disclosure: I received a free book in exchange for my honest review.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2XABmJZ

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Waiting For Fitz by Spencer Hyde A Monster Like Me by Wendy S. Swore Wonder by R.J. Palacio
 

Her Quiet Revolution by Marianne Monson

Her Quiet Revolution by Marianne Monson

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Book Review of Her Quiet Revolution by Marianne Monson

I have lived in Utah my entire life, and I had never heard of Martha Hughes Cannon until I read this book. Why? Why don’t they teach about people like her when we learn about our state’s history? It makes me wonder who else I haven’t learned about. What other people (women and men) are out there hidden in history that have made contributions to our society and we don’t even know it? Who else is out there that has done extraordinary things and has been passed over in the history books? Her Quiet Revolution is a historical fiction/biography of Martha Hughes Cannon. I’m not quite sure which genre to put it in. It’s fiction, but it’s based on Martha Hughes Cannon’s life. Marianne Monson included many relationships and events from Cannon’s life, but needed to add a little fiction when the truth wasn’t readily available.
 

Blurb:

A novel based on the life of Martha Hughes Cannon, a pioneer woman who overcame tremendous odds.


When her baby sister and her father die on the pioneer trail to Salt Lake City, Mattie is determined to become a healer. But her chosen road isn’t an easy one as she faces roadblocks common to Victorian women. Fighting gender bias, geographic location, and mountains of self-doubt, Mattie pushed herself to become more than the world would have her be, only to have everything she’s accomplished called into question when she meets the love of her life: Angus Cannon, a prominent Mormon leader and polygamist.

From the American Frontier to European coasts, Martha’s path takes her on a life journey that is almost stranger than fiction as she learns to navigate a world run by men. But heartache isn’t far behind, and she learns that knowing who you are and being willing to stand up for what you believe in is what truly defines a person.

Her Quiet Revolution is the story of one woman’s determination to change her world, and the path she forged for others to follow.”

My Book Review:

As I read this book I couldn’t help but notice how much I take for granted as a woman living in the United States of America today. Yesterday was the primary election in my state, and I had the privilege of voting for the candidate I think should be the president of the United States of America. I graduated from college with a degree in elementary education, and no one questioned my skills or abilities. 29 sixth graders now call me their teacher. Thankfully, I don’t have to wear a dress to work every day. With my husband I own a home and a car. I get to drive wherever I want to, and whenever I want to—without a chaperone. I have rights, freedoms, and liberty.

Many women that have gone before me have not had these privileges, and many still do not have them today. I’m thankful to people like John Hancock, John Adams, Harriet Tubman, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and Martha Hughes Cannon (I could name 100 more…) who have had the courage to see a different, better, and more equal path ahead.

I really enjoyed this book. I loved learning about Martha Hughes Cannon’s life. There’s also some history of the state of Utah, and of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which I am a member. Some of the history I knew previously, and some I did not. Ms. Monson did a great job of bringing the three pieces together into a story that seamlessly wove together.

Martha (Mattie) was an amazing woman. She serves as an example to everyone, especially women. At a time when women going to college were frowned upon, she didn’t care. She went anyway. Mattie endured a lot to get her medical degree. I loved how she also went on to improve her oratory skills as well. I am not going to go into her whole life here; for that you need to read the book. Suffice it to say that she accomplished many things and endured some rough trials in her lifetime. Martha Hughes Cannon paved the way for women in the United States of America to go to college, become doctors, vote, and serve as public servants.

The book is very well written. The writing style draws you into Mattie’s life, feelings, emotions, dreams, passions, and pain. The characters are well developed, realistic, and become your friends along the way. It’s obvious that Ms. Monson spent a lot of time researching this book. Her hard work pays off, for sure. I learned so much, but I also came away with questions of my own that I’d like to do more research on. There were some practices (like polygamy) that were stopped completely long ago, and others (like women healing the sick) that have somehow been forgotten along the way. I’d like to look more into the latter.

Whether or not you are from Utah, and whether or not you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you will enjoy learning about Martha Hughes Cannon. She may have been from Utah, but her legacy pertains to all women. The way she stood up to her trials and plowed right over them inspires me to be and do better. At a time when women did not go to college, she did. When women were not doctors, she was.

Mattie worked hard and stood up to disappointment, taunts and jeers, and unbelievers. Society really has come a long way in accepting that women are capable of being doctors, senators, scientists, and more—thank goodness! It may not be perfect yet, but we’ve come a long way. I’m thankful to those who sacrificed to bring us this far.

I think the title perfectly describes this book, and the cover art is beautiful and inviting. I really enjoyed this book. It’s an inspiring story of a woman who worked hard and followed her dreams. Martha Hughes Cannon definitely led a quiet revolution that overturned the erroneous stereotypes and misgivings of many people. Her quiet contribution helped pave the way for women everywhere to achieve their dreams.

Content Rating PG-13Content Rating: PG-13 (There isn’t any profanity, violence, or “intimacy.” Some of the themes are geared toward older readers and would be a bit too much for younger readers.)

Recommendation: Young Adult+

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/38nqouW

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

the immortal life of henrietta lacks Focused by Noelle Pikus Pace 
 
 

Book Review of Elmer’s Feelings by Kari Milito

Elmer's Feelings1 by Kari Milito

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Book Review of Elmer's Feelings by Kari Milito

I have two sons. They’re amazing boys; they’re smart, handsome, and kind. My boys are kind of big now (16 and 18), but they still have feelings (a lot of them!). Sometimes I think raising older kids is harder than raising younger kids. It’s different because they don’t need all the physical help anymore, but now it’s emotional help and support that they need. I wish this book had been around when they were little so that I could have helped them better understand and deal with their feelings when they were younger. Elmer’s Feelings by Kari Milito talks about feelings, especially boys’ feelings.

Blurb:

“Elmer’s excited and ready for his first day of school. But things don’t go at all like he imagined, and it’s causing lots of different feelings. Will he be able to sort through them all and find a way to have a better second day?”

My Book Review:

This is such a cute book! Before I get to that, however, I want to let you know that Kari is a friend of mine. Our boys played soccer together for a couple of years when they were younger. They’re both 18 and kind of grown-up now, but we had some fun times sitting in the freezing rain and snow and hot sun cheering our boys on! I promise to be honest in my review, though.

Boys and feelings. Haha! That’s a tough one. Even though I think things are starting to turn a little, there is still a predominant feeling out there that boys and men can’t have feelings. They always need to be tough and not let those feelings show. This feeling is erroneous, but it is still out there. So how do we change it?

Enter Elmer the Elephant. Elmer goes to school on his first day and things definitely do not go as planned. It turns out to be a pretty bad day. He runs home after school, slams the door, and runs up to his room. Haha! Sounds like my teenagers some days. It seems like Elmer’s feelings are getting the best of him. Elmer’s mom goes to check on him and reminds him that

“it’s okay to feel your feelings, but don’t get stuck on them too long. See what each feeling has to tell you and then send it on its way.”

This is such good advice. Everyone should be reminded of this every now and then. I think it’s especially good for children to hear. Yes, you will have feelings, and yes, it’s ok to feel them, but feel them, learn from them, and then move on. I really like this lesson.

The rest of the story goes on to talk about Elmer’s second day, and how he chooses to make things better. I think this is one of the most valuable lessons children can learn—you get to choose to make things better. Don’t be a victim, don’t wallow in self pity or get angry; choose to make your situation better. If you’re waiting for someone else to save you then you may be waiting for a long time. This is what Elmer does, and he has a much better experience the second day.

This is a really cute book. Feelings can be hard to discuss, but reading the story and then talking about them makes it much easier. What makes it even more fun is the little matching game at the end. You match how he’s feeling at different times in the story with the feeling word. There’s also a reflective page where you can discuss what he did the second day to make his day go better. The illustrations and cover art in Elmer’s Feelings are adorable too. I think this would make a great addition to any home, classroom, or school library.

Content Rating GContent Rating: G (Clean!)

Recommendation: Everyone

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Also, Kari Milito is my friend. 🙂

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2HDVu6w

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Nina the Neighborhood Ninja by Sonia Panigrahy The Napping House by Audrey and Don Wood Remember the Ladies by Callista Gingrich
 
 

The Wish and the Peacock by Wendy S. Swore

The Wish and the Peacock by Wendy S. Swore

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Book Review of The Wish and the Peacock by Wendy S. Swore

Change is always hard, especially when you’re a kid. When you think life will always go as planned, think again. I feel for Paige. Her life is changing rapidly, and she’s not handling it well. I can relate. When we moved into the home we’re currently in, my oldest son had a very difficult time with the change. He wouldn’t get out of the car to look at houses, and he was furious when we moved. Thankfully, he’s come around. It took him awhile, but now he’s 18 and is glad we’re here. Paige finds herself in a similar situation, and she promises to do whatever it takes to stop the changes. She tries her best, but does it work? I really liked this book; I hope you enjoy my book review of The Wish and the Peacock by Wendy S. Swore.

Blurb:

“Paige’s favorite family tradition on the farm is the annual bonfire where everyone tosses in a stone and makes a wish. This time, Paige’s specific wish is one she’s not sure can come true: Don’t let Mom and Grandpa sell the farm.

When Paige’s younger brother finds a wounded peacock in the barn, Paige is sure it’s a sign that if she can keep the bird safe, she’ll keep the farm safe too. Peacocks, after all, are known to be fierce protectors of territory and family.

With determination and hard work, Paige tries to prove she can save the farm on her own, but when a real estate agent stakes a “For Sale” sign at the end of the driveway and threatens everything Paige loves, she calls on her younger brother and her best friends, Mateo and Kimana, to help battle this new menace. They may not have street smarts, but they have plenty of farm smarts, and some city lady who’s scared of spiders should be easy enough to drive away.

But even as the peacock gets healthier, the strain of holding all the pieces of Paige’s world together gets harder. Faced with a choice between home and family, she risks everything to make her wish come true, including the one thing that scares her the most: letting the farm go.”

My Book Review:

I really enjoyed this book. Paige is quite the character! She’s strong, strong-willed, stubborn, set in her ways, and thinks she’s a grown-up. She knows what she wants and will do pretty much anything to get it. I like these characteristics, but she may sometimes take things a little too far. Unfortunately, Paige doesn’t see that some of her actions cause more harm than good. She may think she’s helping, but she’s actually making things worse. I do love her effort, though. Paige’s brother Scotty isn’t quite like her. He’s easier to persuade, he is much quieter, and not quite as independent as Paige is. Of course, he is younger. I love the dynamics between the two of them. For the most part, they have a good relationship and work well together. They do have some sibling issues, which is normal.  

I love the way Ms. Swore developed these characters! Along with Paige and Scotty there is also their mom and grandpa, and their friends Mateo and Kimana. Kimana is Native American, and I loved learning more about her culture. Each character brings an important aspect to the story. I found all the characters to be developed well, realistic, flawed, and unique. Each has a unique voice and presence, and each shows growth and learning throughout the book.

The writing style that Ms. Swore uses grabbed me from the beginning. Although some difficult topics are weaved throughout the book, the writing doesn’t make it feel somber or heavy. I found it engaging, full of personality, and upbeat. It’s easy to read and understand, flows well, and has an interesting plot. There are some heavy moments, for sure, but those moments are counteracted by a few humorous times. Paige’s voice makes the story!

I love the lessons that this book teaches (You know me; I’m a sucker for lessons taught in books!). A few of the important lessons that this book focuses on are the importance of family, friendship, embracing change, dealing with the death of a loved one, knowing when you need to ask for help—and asking for it, and humility. These are just a few of them!

I really enjoyed this book. It’s such a cute story, it’s packed with important lessons, and it’s well written. I know my middle-grader will enjoy it for sure, and I think my 14 year-old daughter will also enjoy it. The cover art is beautiful!

Content Rating PGContent Rating: PG (It’s clean. There are a few heavier topics discussed, but no language, violence, or “intimacy.”)

Recommendation: Middle-Grader (4th-6th) and up

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2SSIMWY

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

A Monster Like Me by Wendy S. Swore Squint by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown mustaches for maddie
 
 

Book Review of Promised by Leah Garriott

Promised by Leah Garriott

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Book Review of Promised by Leah Garriott

Can you believe it’s already February? What? Where did January go? Believe me, I’m NOT complaining—January seems to never end, so it’s a pleasant surprise. Since it’s the month of love, love is in the air, and Cupid is out full-force this month, I thought reviewing a proper romance would be a great way to start the month. Let’s get the love party started! Promised by Leah Garriott is a fun, new proper romance. Leah Garriott is a new author, and I have to say, I’m impressed! I’m excited to add her to the growing list of proper romance authors. Find out more in my book review of Promised by Leah Garriott.

Blurb:

“Margaret Brinton keeps her promises, and the one she is most determined to keep is the promise to protect her heart.

Warwickshire, England, 1812

Fooled by love once before, Margaret vows never to be played the fool again. To keep her vow, she attends a notorious matchmaking party intent on securing the perfect marital match: a union of convenience to someone who could never affect her heart. She discovers a man who exceeds all her hopes in the handsome and obliging rake Mr. Northam.

There’s only one problem. His meddling cousin, Lord Williams, won’t leave Margaret alone. Condescending and high-handed, Lord Williams lectures and insults her. When she refuses to give heed to his counsel, he single-handedly ruins Margaret’s chances for making a good match—to his cousin or anyone else. With no reason to remain at the party, Margaret returns home to discover her father has promised her hand in marriage—to Lord Williams.

Under no condition will Margaret consent to marrying such an odious man. Yet as Lord Williams inserts himself into her everyday life, interrupting her family games and following her on morning walks, winning the good opinion of her siblings and proving himself intelligent and even kind, Margaret is forced to realize that Lord Williams is exactly the type of man she’d hoped to marry before she’d learned how much love hurt. When paths diverge and her time with Lord Williams ends, Margaret is faced with her ultimate choice: keep the promises that protect her or break free of them for one more chance at love. Either way, she fears her heart will lose.”

My Book Review:

One of the reasons I enjoy reading proper romances is that I don’t need to worry about the content. It’s clean. One of the consequences of this is that the writing can sometimes be a bit too cheesy. Now, I like a good bit of cheese with my romance, but there have been a few times in which it has been too much. Promised does not have this problem. Yes, it definitely has enough cheese to make it a romance, but not enough to overdo it.

Leah Garriott’s writing style sucks you right into 1812. I pictured myself with Margaret at the ball, at home walking around her beloved lake, and I felt her emotions as she did. Garriott’s writing has wit and humor along with the somberness needed at times. The characters come to life on the page; their development allows for them to be realistic and relatable. Although Margaret drove me crazy at times, I still felt as though she were a dear friend.

Lord Williams and Mr. Northam each showed their true colors and were well written. Margaret’s brother Daniel, and her parents, were also realistic and well developed. I loved the emotions I felt from the characters. Margaret, especially, exudes emotion. She’s quite the spit-fire! I love how she takes life by the horns; even when she thinks there is no hope, she still tries with all her might to change unchangeable outcomes. Margaret also has some messed-up views of marriage and love. Thankfully, those get worked out along the way!

This book is easy to read, it flows well, and it’s such a fun story. Oh, don’t worry, it’s not all butterflies and roses, but it’s such a sweet love story. I truly enjoyed this book. It’s a fun, entertaining, and perfect addition to the proper romance collection. If you have enjoyed previous proper romances, you’ll love Promised by Leah Garriott!      

Content Rating PG+Content Rating: PG+ (It’s clean except for some brief kissing.)

Age Recommendation: YA+

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2S9T8RW

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

 Promises and Primroses by Josi Kilpack A Song for the Stars by Ilima Todd
 
 
 

Potion Masters: The Seeking Serum by Frank L. Cole

Potion Masters: The Seeking Serum (Book #3) by Frank L. Cole

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Book Review of Potion Masters: The Seeking Serum (Book #3) by Frank L. Cole

Hi Everyone! It feels good to be back! You may or may not have noticed, but I took a nice, long blogging/reviewing break over the holidays and new year. I have a lot going on with school (I’m still teaching sixth grade and it still likes to take up all my spare time) and my family. However, I have still been reading! I’m super excited for this new year because I have a whole bunch of books in my TBR pile; they’re all ready to be read and reviewed in the next few months. To kick off 2020, I have a fun read for you today! This is the third book in a very fun series, and sadly, it’s the finale. Potion Masters: The Seeking Serum (Book #3) by Frank L. Cole is the perfect ending to the series, and I can’t wait for you all to read it!

Blurb:

“The final adventure in the thrilling Potion Masters trilogy!

Mezzarix has stolen the Vessel—the source of power for all potion masters. He plans to corrupt the Vessel and plunge the world back into a new Dark Age. Gordy and his friends must find Mazzarix, unite the potion-making community, and save the world, before it’s too late.”

My Book Review:

What a fun book (and series) this is! I seriously love how creative and unique it is! The different potions that Gordy comes up with make me wish I could brew potions. Seriously. Turning people into trees, encapsulating people—hopefully enemies—in glass jars, and having it all right there on your wrist! As Ron Weasly would say, “It’s brilliant!” Frank L. Cole has quite the imagination! I love the idea of the Seeking Serum to find the evil Mezzarix. Sasha sometimes gets on my nerves, but this time she had a great idea. Does it work? Haha! You know what I’m going to say…read the book and find out!

Does the seeking serum work to find Mezzarix? Do they save the world? It’s a tall task for a bunch of kids, but when you have the genius Gordy Stitser on your side you know you at least have a chance. I think this book is the perfect ending to a super fun series. It’s well written, engaging, and definitely keeps you turning pages. I couldn’t put it down! The characters come to life on the page. They’re realistic, make mistakes, and do some pretty cool things. The evil Mezzarix may have finally found his match—in his own grandson. Is it like grandfather like grandson, or can Gordy save his family and friends from his grandfather’s wicked plan?

If you haven’t started…start this series now. If you have, read this book! It’s so good!

Content Rating PG+

Content Rating: PG+ (There is no profanity or “intimacy” in this book, but there is some violence. Good vs. evil battle it out, and although it’s not too graphic, it might be a bit scary for younger readers.)

Age Recommendation: Middle-Graders (4th-6th) and up

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2FSwuHH

 

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Potion Masters book 1 by Frank L. Cole The Transparency Tonic by Frank L Cole Wizard for Hire Apprentice Needed by Obert Skye
 
 
 

Paul, Big, and Small by David Glen Robb

Paul Big and Small by David Glen Robb

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Book Review of Paul, Big, and Small by David Glen Robb

I haven’t ever tried rock climbing. I’ve climbed over rocks while hiking, does that count? I’ve ridden over rocks while mountain biking. Does that count? I haven’t ever tried actual rock climbing. It scares me! I have rappelled, though. I went rappelling in high school with a leadership team I was on. We went to this army base near our home and they had a really tall wall that you could rappel down. We didn’t climb it; we climbed up a ladder, but that was scary enough. Then I got to rappel down an actual rock face a few years ago when I went with the youth in my church. It was fun, but scary. I admire people that rock climb because I think it takes a lot of courage and strength. I’ve never read a book about it either, so it was fun to read about Paul and how he uses rock climbing as a stress reliever. I really liked PAUL, BIG, and SMALL by David Glen Robb. I hope you enjoy my review!

Blurb:

“Paul Adams has always been short, but he’s an excellent rock climber. And his small size means he can hide from the bullies that prowl the halls of his high school.

Top on his list of “People to Avoid” are Conor, from his Language Arts class, Hunter, who hangs around the climbing gym, and Lily Small, who happens to be the tallest girl in school. But he might be able to be friends with a new kid from Hawaii who insists that everyone call him “Big.” He’s got a way of bringing everyone into his circle and finding the beauty in even the worst of situations.

When the three of them—Paul, Big, and Small—are assigned to the same group project, they form an unlikely friendship. And Paul realizes that maybe Lily isn’t so bad after all. He might even actually like her. And maybe even more than like her.

Paul and Lily team up for a rock-climbing competition, but when Lily is diagnosed with leukemia, Paul ends up with Conor on his team. And when Paul learns that Conor is dealing with bullies of his own—as well as some deep emotional pain—he realizes that the bullying in his school has got to stop.

Paul, Big, and Small is about the turbulent, emotional lives of young adults who are struggling with life’s challenges openly and sometimes in secret.”

My Book Review:

Wow. What a great story! Life in high school can be difficult, especially for anyone who is different in any way.  If you’re too tall, too short, weigh too much, too smart, not very smart, or have any other distinguishing differences, you could be the victim of bullying or harassment. Paul is a great kid. His distinguishing difference is his height. He’s on the too short side of things. I can definitely empathize with Paul on that one. Big is an amazing kid. He’s from Hawaii, and his distinguishing characteristic is that he’s very big. Lily Small seems big and scary at first, but she has a soft center. Her distinguishing characteristic is that she’s very tall and she’s black. Her parents adopted her from Africa.

These three high school students come together to work on a school project, and it turns into genuine friendship. I love all three of these characters. Seriously. Paul has no self confidence at school. He’s constantly picked on and bullied for his height. Big is the best. Wow! I love how he takes the time to stop and feel and hear the rain in a run-down, cement outside area at the school. I love the happiness he spreads. Lily comes across as big and scary—that is until you get to know her. It turns out that she, like Paul and Big, gets picked on. Her positive attitude and genuine love for people make her a fabulous friend and character.

All of the characters in this book are well written, well developed, realistic, and just jump off the page. Paul, Big, and Lily (her last name is Small) have to be some of my all-time favorite characters. That’s saying something. Big, especially. I love, love, love how he takes an impending conflict and turns it around by spreading love and happiness. The way he enjoys the little things like a dandelion growing out of a crack in the cement or an ant carrying a chip along the floor amazes me. I have a lot to learn from Big. He’s my favorite character in the book, and I want him to be my friend.

I love the way this book tackles tough issues. High school comes with a lot of issues, and this book deals with a lot of them in such an amazing way. You’ve got many different characters, and you get to see their different sides. You get to see little pieces of what makes them them. Why does this kid bully other kids? What makes this kid who he is? What experiences does she have that have made her who she is today? I always tell my kids to be nice to everyone because you never know what someone is going through or dealing with, and this book emphasizes this in an amazing way.

Mental illness, bullying, suicide, physical illness, and the death of a loved one are just a few of the tough issues tackled in this book. Although it does focus on these hard things, it also focuses on friendship, love, kindness, empathy, and seeing the good in people. I love how you get to see the other side of these rough characters—the “at home” side that you rarely get the chance to see. What causes this person to act the way he does? The book focuses on learning about people and their circumstances, and not just judging them for their actions. It focuses on loving them and being kind to them despite their negative actions or poor behavior.

I loved this book! It is needed today. So needed. It teaches kids that there are outs. If you don’t like rock climbing then you can run, bike, hike, walk, dance, sew, color, or whatever you enjoy. Find something that calms you down, helps you breathe, and puts you out in nature. Use this as an outlet for your stress, pain, anger, and heartache. Don’t take it out on others because that strategy doesn’t help anyone. Hurting others doesn’t heal you. Learn to be the good! Learn to be the ray of sunshine in someone else’s life. Serve others. Help others. Put your own trials aside and help a friend (or an enemy). This is what brings happiness and helps heal your own pain.

I could go on and on. I love this book so much! I love the characters and the lessons the story teaches. I’m turning it over to my kids and making them read it! I may even read it to my sixth graders (I teach math and science so I don’t usually read to them). Every home and classroom should have this book available to read. This story is poignant, relevant, important, and so needed today!

Content Rating PG-13Content Rating: PG-13 (There isn’t any profanity or “intimacy.” There is some minor violence involving bullying, and it deals with some tough topics like mental illness. A character does die by suicide. )

Recommendation: YA+

My Rating: 4.5/5

4.5 Star Rating

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/334UmC0

 

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mustaches for maddie A Monster Like Me by Wendy S. Swore  Wonder by R.J. Palacio
 
 

The Candy Cane Caper by Josi S. Kilpack

The Candy Cane Caper by Josi S Kilpack

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Book Review of The Candy Cane Caper by Josi S. Kilpack

Yay! I am so excited that Sadie is back! I’ve fully enjoyed reading Josi Kilpack’s proper romances, but it’s a fun change of pace to get back to Sadie and her mystery-solving skills. Christmas, though? Uhhh…not quite ready for that. I guess I should get ready though, since it’s supposed to snow tonight (ugh…).  I have read a few of Josi Kilpack’s culinary mysteries and have enjoyed them, so when I had the chance to review The Candy Cane Caper I jumped on it. I’m so glad I did.

Blurb:

“This Christmas, Sadie Hoffmiller Cunningham is making a list and checking it twice. For the first time since she and Pete married five years ago, their combined families are gathering for the holidays in Fort Collins, Colorado, for a party that would make Santa and Mrs. Claus proud. She just has to bake the famous Cunningham Candy Cane Cake, make sure the looming snowstorm doesn’t derail everyone’s travel plans, and oh, yes, solve one teensy-tiny mystery before the big day.

At ninety-four and nearly blind, Mary, Sadie’s friend and neighbor, knows this will be her last Christmas. When Sadie learns that someone has stolen antique Christmas ornaments from Mary’s tree, she vows to find the thief, no matter what. The ornaments had been appraised at more than $40,000, but they were worth even more to Mary, who had intended to bequeath them to her great-granddaughter, Joy, as a final gift.

With Pete in Arizona wrapping up a case of his own, it’s up to Sadie to question the residents of Nicholas House, where Mary lives, and deduce who had the means and the motive to steal heirloom ornaments during what should be the most wonderful time of the year. When stories of other thefts surface, Sadie feels like she’s creating a “naughty” list that could rival Santa’s. Identifying the thief, recovering the ornaments, and restoring them to Mary’s tree in time will take a Christmas miracle—and maybe a few extra-special cookies.”

My Book Review:

Someday I want to be more like Sadie. I want to bake delicious cookies and desserts for people, be a little more brave and bold, and serve others like she does. Sadie is a fun character. She has a good, strong voice, and is a tough cookie. Yep, I totally just made that pun. Haha! She’s a little tough on the outside, but she has a very soft center. I love how much she cares about other people. She may not choose the best ways to show it sometimes (you need to read the part about her in the auto parts store—cringe worthy for sure), but she definitely cares.

Sadie is well developed, well written, and realistic. She’s a little cheesy sometimes, but then she breaks into something and makes up for it. Some of her choices are a little iffy at times, but it’s all in the name of solving the mystery. I loved learning about Joy and her story, and Mary is such a sweetheart. I hadn’t ever heard of any of the fancy ornaments Mary had, so I had to look some of them up. Wow. They put my ornaments to shame.

The story line is a little predictable, but I enjoyed the journey. I enjoyed watching Sadie make a fool of herself at the mall, and I enjoyed reading all about the relationship she has with Mary. One thing you know will be good in a Josi Kilpack culinary mystery are the recipes. There are some great ones for sure. I can’t wait to try the Candy Cane Cake. It sounds so good!

If you’re looking for a fun, entertaining holiday (or not) read, look no further. The Candy Cane Caper by Josi S. Kilpack will make you laugh, cry, cringe, and feel hungry for sweets all in one tidy package. The ending is super cute; it’s a little cheesy, but I liked it. If you’ve like her previous mysteries, you need to read The Candy Cane Caper by Josi S. Kilpack!

Candy Cane Blog Tour Image

Content Rating PG+Content Rating: PG+ (There isn’t any profanity, violence, or “intimacy” in this book. There might be a few teeny tiny laws broken, though.)

Age Recommendation: YA and up

My Rating: 3.5/5

3.5 Star Rating

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2qUWcYd

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Lemon Tart by Josi S. Kilpack Daisies and Devotion by Josi S Kilpack Cover Art Promises and Primroses by Josi Kilpack
 

Glass Slippers, Ever After, and Me by Julie Wright

Glass Slippers Ever After and Me by Julie Wright

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Book Review of Glass Slippers, Ever After, and Me by Julie Wright

Glass Slippers Blog Tour Image UpdatedI have read a few of Julie Wright’s proper romances, and they’re so fun. When I heard she had written a new one, I had to get my hands on it! I couldn’t wait to read it. Thankfully, I get to review Glass Slippers, Ever After, and Me—that’s even better than just reading it. I love the cover art on this book! The colors are so fun, and when you add the rose petals and the fancy shmancy heels, it looks like a fairy tale waiting to happen. The title is super cute too!

Blurb:

Can the fairy tale bring Charlotte the happiness she’s looking for, or was he always there to begin with?

A modern, reimagined Cinderella story.

When aspiring author Charlotte Kingsley finally gets published, she thinks all her dreams have come true. But the trouble begins when her publicity firm reinvents her quirky online presence into a perfectly curated dream life. Gone are the days of sweatpant posts and ice cream binges with her best friend, Anders, replaced instead with beautiful clothes, orchestrated selfies, and no boyfriend. Only, that carefully curated fairy tale life is ruining her self-esteem and making her feel like a fraud.

When a bestselling author takes Charlotte under her wing—almost like a fairy godmother—she helps Charlotte see the beautiful person she already is and the worth of being authentic. But is it too late to save her relationship with Anders? The clock is quickly ticking towards midnight, and Charlotte must decide between her fairy tale life and the man she loves, before he’s gone forever.

My Book Review:

I loved this book! One of the things Julie Wright does very well is giving characters a voice. Charlotte’s voice in this story definitely makes the book. I love her spunk and her realness. One of my favorite scenes happens at the beginning when Charlotte feels quite upset and eats a couple cartons of ice cream. Yep! She’s my kind of gal! Ice cream is for sure a great go-to comfort food when you’re down.  I love Charlotte’s enthusiasm toward her writing, and especially her reaction to rejection letters. Haha! Her reaction to meeting her favorite author also makes for a fun scene. She makes such a great character.

I like that Charlotte is a strong character. She has her flaws, for sure, but she’s so well developed, real, and relatable. I could definitely see myself hanging out, watching movies, and eating ice cream with my bestie Charlotte. Anders also makes a great character. He’s such a nice guy with a big heart. He, too, is well developed, real, and relatable. I love his romantic flair. Don’t tell my husband, but he could use a few lessons on romance from Anders. Of course, we’ve been married for 21 years and they’re just beginning to date—it’s only a little different.

The story line in this book is so fun. A writer (Julie Wright) writes about a young, struggling writer (Charlotte Kingsley). I love the concept. I wonder if any of the experiences Charlotte had mirror experiences that Julie Wright had when she first started her writing career. That would be a fun question to ask her, for sure.

I didn’t love the characters of Charlotte’s mom and step-dad, or the way they treated her and her sister. They’re not as likable or relatable as Charlotte, Anders, and Kat are. They do, however, add contrast to the story. They give the reader context and background information about Charlotte and Kat, and you can see why the girls are the way they are in some ways. Charlotte’s team of editor, publicist, and social media people also add another dimension to the story. You want to like and hate them at the same time.

I felt bad for Charlotte because she wanted success so badly that she was willing to give up some of herself in order to do it. It’s a hard lesson to learn, for sure. As an outsider, I wanted to scream at Charlotte a few times. I could see where it was all heading, and it didn’t look pretty. It’s one of those things that I’d rather learn as the reader rather than the participator, for sure!

I really enjoyed this book! If you like proper romances, fun love stories, fairy tales, or any of Julie Wright’s other books, you will love Glass Slippers, Ever After, and Me.

Glass Slippers Blog Tour Image

Content Rating PG+Content Rating: PG+ (There isn’t any profanity, violence, or “intimacy,” except some brief kissing.)

Age Recommendation: YA and up

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2IV5ol8

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Smarter Than a Monster by Brandon Mull

Smarter Than a Monster by Brandon Mull

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Book Review of Smarter Than a Monster: A Survival Guide by Brandon Mull

Wow! Brandon Mull is on a roll! I just read and reviewed the third Dragonwatch book, and now he has a new children’s book out! Does he ever sleep? A children’s picture book is a new chapter (pun totally intended…haha!) for Brandon Mull, and I am excited to be a part of the blog tour for it. My kids and I have been reading and loving his books for many years, and it’s fun to see him grow as an author. I was surprised that Brandon Dorman didn’t illustrate this book, but Mike Walton did a great job. Don’t let those monsters outsmart you—read Smarter Than a Monster: A Survival Guide by Brandon Mull.

Blurb:

“No monster wants you to read this book. The more you know about monsters, the more you will know how to defeat them.

Little kids have big fears, which they often imagine to be scary creatures, like monsters. But this book helps explain how knowing “Monster Facts” can help kids outwit them.

Want to avoid monsters? Fact: Monsters love dirt and grime, so when faced with two kids, the monster will choose the dirty one every time.

And if toys and clothes are all over the floor, you may get ambushed by a mess-loving monster.

Survival Tip: Take baths and keep your room clean. Smarter Than a Monster will arm young readers with practical advice in this innovative and imaginative parenting tool that teaches common sense and positive and healthy habits.”

 

My Book Review:

Have I ever told you how much I love children’s books? Probably. I say it all the time. I.Love.Children’s.Books.So.Much! Picture books bring out the reader’s imagination and creativity like nothing else does! They’re magical. Seriously. Children’s books can strengthen connections between parents and children, teachers and students, and anyone else who reads them. They bring our imaginations to life. One of my favorite parts of children’s books is the lessons learned and the morals taught.

This book doesn’t disappoint in that area! It’s full of tasty lesson tidbits and learning. The good part is that the story is so fun that the kids don’t even realize they’re learning lessons! They’ll do it all just to outsmart and avoid those pesky monsters. Yep! This book is all about how to avoid meeting any creepy creature. For example, hiding in kids’ bedrooms would be much too obvious. Monsters don’t want to be found, so they hide under the parents’ bed. Smart, right? So staying in your own bed is much, much safer.

Monsters like dirt, so if you take a bath the monsters will leave you alone. Who knew? Having lived in Fablehaven’s creature sanctuaries for so long, Brandon Mull must know a lot about these creatures. This book is full of smart tips to avoid meeting them, and I think the kids will love it! Parents too! Brushed teeth, clean rooms, and clean children are a few byproducts of this book, so parents will for sure want to spread this important information as far as possible!

As I stated previously, I kind of thought Brandon Dorman would illustrate this book, but an illustrator named Mike Walton did it, and he did a great job. The illustrations are bright, colorful, and very well done. The monsters are not too scary but not too cute, and are unique and creative. The combination of fun story and great pictures will make this book a cherished one in any classroom or home. I’m so glad Brandon Mull gets to bring another fun story to life, and in the process teach kids how to be Smarter Than a Monster! I think the parents will learn a few things as well, so this is a win-win for everyone! This is such a fun book, and I highly recommend it!

Smarter Monster Blog Tour Image

Content Rating GContent Rating: G (Clean!)

Age Recommendation: Everyone

My Rating: 4.5/5

4.5 Star Rating

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/33fTavt

 

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fablehaven book #1 by Brandon Mull A Monster Like Me by Wendy S. Swore The Nantucket Sea Monster by Darcy Pattison