Leather Horizons by Laverty Sparks

Leather Horizons by Laverty Sparks

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Book Review of Leather Horizons by Laverty Sparks

Let’s just say that Misty and Rebyl live lives completely different than mine. I am pretty much 100% opposite of them. That’s ok, though, right? Reading is fun because you get to experience different lives and experiences. They don’t live like I do, but that’s ok and I can learn from them and their life experiences. We’re not all alike, and it’s ok! Check out my review of Leather Horizons by Laverty Sparks.

Blurb:

“Television journalist Mist Briscoe helps produce a weekly Chicagoland broadcast, but it’s her own life that could be showcased. Playing the leading role in her own performance, she ad-libs through the prologues and soliloquies of life.

Backstage is her married boss who would like nothing better than to make their friendship intimate. Should she pull the curtain on this drama or exit stage left? Neither choice is without sacrifice.

Back in Misty’s hometown in southwestern Michigan, the other important supporting cast members, her family, face their own monologues. Adding intrigue to the plot, her elderly grandfather has disappeared shortly after his wife’s funeral and Misty’s parents are at a loss with the mystery. Last, but not least, Misty’s best friend shines in the footlights and deals with her own perplexing script.

As each of their stories unfold and reality sets in, every impending choice possesses a strong alternative, incentive, and circumstance. But the obstacles aren’t so high this ensemble can’t get over them or so deep they can’t get around them when they take their final bows.

After many rehearsals and run-throughs, Misty meets a leading man who becomes he number-one fan. Will his audition prompt her in the direction of happiness?”

My Book Review:

Misty has a job in broadcasting, but isn’t too happy with her situation there. Her friend Rebyl owns a resort, but has a secret even she won’t admit yet. They have been friends for a long time, yet haven’t seen each other in awhile. Misty takes a trip home and finds that she is needed there more than she thought. Since she isn’t happy with work, she begins thinking of other options, and hopes that she’ll meet someone.

The characters in this book are well developed and have big personalities, especially Misty and Rebyl.  I had a hard time relating to them because they are so different from me, but I did like them as characters. I liked the writing style and thought it was well written. There are some twists and turns that made the story interesting and gave it some more depth.

Content Rating RRating: R (Profanity, “intimacy,” including scenes and innuendos, and suicide.)

Recommendation: Adult

My Rating: 3/5

3 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/2ZgBJLP

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

The Sage Challenger by Chad Rassmussen The Other Side of the Bridge by Camron Wright A Tangled Mercy by Joy Jordan-Lake
 
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Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

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Book Review of Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

I have had four children go through elementary school (My baby goes into seventh grade this fall—crazy!), so I have heard and seen a lot! I also teach in an elementary school, so I’ve seen and heard even more! The group of parents in this book makes my experiences seem so mild! Wow, we parents need to up our game and make things a little more exciting, I guess! I don’t know if I’d want my children to go to this particular school (too much drama), but I’d love to be a fly on the wall!! Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty will fill your gossip cup for a long time, and make you glad you don’t live there!

Blurb:

Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal.

A murder…A tragic accident…Or just parents behaving badly? What’s indisputable is that someone is dead.

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny, biting, and passionate; she remembers everything and forgives no one. Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare, but she is paying a price for the illusion of perfection. New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for a nanny. She comes with a mysterious past and a sadness beyond her years. These three women are at different crossroads, but they will all wind up in the same shocking place.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.”

My Book Review:

My children and students could recite my mantra from heart because they hear it all the time…NO DRAMA! Haha! Everything this book is, is 100% opposite of me. That’s okay, though, because that is why I read! I get to experience the drama without dealing with it! When I read about all the gossip and drama, my thoughts are confirmed, and I say my mantra even more. You’ll laugh after I just made a big point of all that, but I loved this book!

The writing in this book is top notch! It is very well written. It’s told from the viewpoint of several different women, and each is unique, individual, and very well developed. Each woman also stays true to herself and her character all the way through. I liked the writing style and was hooked from page one.

 I think I related most to Madeline because she is a mom of older children. She’s been through the elementary scene before, and nothing throws her…or does it? She’s feisty, hilarious, and kind of a mother-figure to the other moms. I don’t relate to the ex-husband part of her, but that’s ok. I like her heels and her “I don’t care” attitude. Celeste was a bit harder for me to relate to, but she’s a very complex character, and I still liked her. I can’t imagine being in her shoes, so no judgment from me. Jane has NO idea what she is getting into when she moves into the neighborhood. Poor girl! The decks are stacked against her before the school year even starts. I liked Jane a lot also.

I liked how Ms. Moriarty told the story. It begins with something happening, but you don’t know what. There are some eyewitness accounts from different people, and then she takes you back six months previous. I liked the eyewitness accounts throughout; I learned some things, but I also found that I had more questions, so it kept me reading.

I liked this book a lot; it’s a page-turner for sure! You get your gossip fix, your murder-mystery fix, and you learn how not to behave at the school trivia night. You also see how little lies can quickly become some of the most dangerous lies.

Content Rating RContent Rating: R (Profanity, including at least one “f” word. “Intimacy,” including scenes and innuendos. Domestic violence and murder.)

Age Recommendation: Adult

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2W4btT6

 

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The Good Sister by Gillian McAllister The Storyteller's Secret by Sejal Badani Cash Valley by Ryan K. Nelson
 
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The Good Sister by Gillian McAllister

The Good Sister by Gillian McAllister

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Book Review of The Good Sister by Gillian McAllister

I consider my sister one of my best friends. We talk often, our kids are close in age, and we enjoying spending time together. We have watched each other’s kids over the years, and I love the relationships I have with my nieces and nephew. I cannot imagine my sister and I going through what Martha and Becky went through in this story. It’s heartbreaking. It comes down to relationships, trust, patience, and love. Who would you believe—your sister or the police investigators and the court? The Good Sister by Gillian McAllister puts sister against sister, family against family, and leaves you wondering what in the world could have happened.

Blurb:

“When Martha Blackwater finds herself struggling to balance early motherhood and her growing business, her sister, Becky, steps in to babysit without a second thought, bringing the two women closer than ever. But then the unthinkable happens, and Becky is charged with murder. Nine months later, Becky is on trial and maintains her innocence—and so does Martha.

Unable to shake the feeling that her sister couldn’t possibly be guilty, Martha sets out to uncover exactly what happened and how things could have gone so wrong. Fault lines deep in the sisters’ relationship begin to show, threatening the family each has worked so hard to build. With incredible empathy and resounding emotional heft, The Good Sister is an electrifying novel that will lead readers to question everything they know about motherhood, family, and the price of forgiveness.”

My Book Review:

I really enjoyed this book! I loved the relationship between Martha and Becky, especially. Maybe I related to them because of the relationship I have with my sister, but I really enjoyed being a part of their story. It’s not a happy story, but there are a few happy moments. This book is well written, and I liked the writing style of the book. It definitely sucked me in from the very beginning.

The book is written from many different view points, and as each person tells his or her story, you learn more about the events that occurred. Sometimes this is confusing for the reader, but I thought Ms. McAllister did a good job with it. The story doesn’t feel choppy, and you can tell the difference between each unique person.

If you have followed me for awhile you know that I do not try to figure it all out before I get to the end. I just read and enjoy the story. Usually. With this book I couldn’t stop trying to figure it all out. I’d read something and change my mind, then I’d read something else and change my mind again. I liked that there were differing viewpoints because it allowed me to see it all from different perspectives and try to see the situation from different angles.

Although this book is not happy, it doesn’t feel too heavy. There always seems to be a bit of hope ahead, which I felt grateful for. There are some twists and turns in the story, which kept me reading. I wouldn’t recommend reading this book if you are pregnant or have a newborn.  Other than that, it’s a good read. The Good Sister will keep you turning pages, and hooked until the end.

Content Rating RRating: R (Profanity, including at least one “f” word. There is a death of a character and adult themes.)

Recommendation: 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/2BUd1Is

 

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Rakes and Roses by Josi S. Kilpack

Rakes and Roses by Josi S Kilpack

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Book Review of Rakes and Roses by Josi S. Kilpack

If you know me at all, you know that I haven’t ever been one to go after the bad boys. I like the clean-cut, well-mannered, hold a steady job kind of guy, and my handsome hubby is just that. There are some women, though, that like the bad boys. They like a little more adventure, maybe? Haha! I’m not one of them so I’m not sure. I’ve read quite a few proper romances, and none of them have had a bad boy as the romantic love interest. Until now. Fun, right? It adds a bit of fun and a bit of surprise to the story. Ok, so here is the definition of a rake according to my Merriam-Webster app: a dissolute person. And then the definition of dissolute is: marked by indulgence in things (such as drink…) deemed vices. You get the picture. What does a rake have to do with roses? Find out more in my review of Rakes and Roses by Josi S. Kilpack.

Blurb:

A Mayfield Family Romance


Lady Sabrina endured an abusive marriage, a miscarriage, and early widowhood to emerge as a smart, successful, confident woman who found a way to make her mark in a man’s world. She has friends and purpose, but cannot hide from the emptiness she feels when the parties are over and the friends have gone home to families she will never have.

Harry Stillman may be charming and handsome, but he’s a gambler and a rake who has made a mockery of his privileges. He turns to the mysterious Lord Damion for financial relief from his debts, but still ends up beaten nearly senseless by thugs and left in an ally.

When Lady Sabrina comes upon Harry after the attack, she remembers the kindness Harry once showed to her six years ago and brings him to her estate to heal. Though their relationship begins on rocky footing, it soon mellows into friendship, then trust. But Lady Sabrina needs to keep Harry at a distance, even if he is becoming the kind of man worthy of her heart. After all, she is keeping a secret that, if exposed, could destroy everything she’s so carefully built.”

My Book Review:

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I loved the uniqueness of the story, and I loved the characters. One of my most favorite parts of the book was Lady Sabrina’s secret life. If I were in her position, I hope I could be just as generous as she is. When I learned of her past, I felt so bad for her. I’m glad she was able to rise above her past circumstances. She comes across as very relatable and realistic, and as someone you would want to meet. She seems so genuine and caring. I liked her character a lot. Some of it may have to do with her roses. I LOVE roses, and my gardens are full of them.

Harry, on the other hand, is a rake. Yes he is. He is not a nice person. I definitely would not want to hang out with him or his crowd. Harry has a lot of issues, and they aren’t pretty issues; they aren’t easy issues either. He gets himself into some pretty bad situations. He’s the kind of guy you DO NOT want your daughter to bring home. But does he have another side? A side that isn’t quite as dissolute? If he did, he might be able to convince a few women (and their dads) that he might not be so bad. There is kind of a corny part in regards to something Harry learns to do. I don’t know about that one specific part—it’s pretty cheesy, and I found it mostly unbelievable, but it’s only one small part in the book. And, I guess you never know. 

Overall, this book is well written. The characters are well developed, the story is unique and has an element of surprise in it, and I thought it was a fun book.  I found it entertaining and a great change of pace, especially during the quarantine. It’s a great addition to the proper romance genre! If you have enjoyed any of the previous proper romances, you will enjoy this one!

Content Rating PG+Content Rating: PG+ (There isn’t any profanity or “intimacy,” although there is some kissing, and a scene where it almost goes too far, but doesn’t. There is some brief violence with fighting.)

Age Recommendation: YA+

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

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

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/3eQL2I2

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Forever and Forever by Josi S. Kilpack Promises and Primroses by Josi Kilpack The Lady of the Lakes by Josi S. Kilpack
 
 

Wizard For Hire: Magic Required (Book #3) by Obert Skye

Wizard for Hire Magic Required (Book 3) by Obert Skye

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Book Review of Wizard for Hire: Magic Required (Book #3) by Obert Skye

This is such a fun series! Book #2 ended with such a huge cliffhanger that we’ve (my kids and I) been waiting and waiting for this book to come out! Yes, before I even received the book, my kids were fighting over who got to read it after I read it. And yes, I got to read it first. Haha! It’s the privilege of being the one to review it. I love the mystery in this series. There are times you’re thinking, “There is NO way he’s a wizard.” Then 20 pages later you’re thinking, “Oh, he’s definitely a wizard.” I think this mystery and wondering is part of what makes these books so fun. So…the big question…IS Rin a wizard? Do we finally get to find out? Well, no spoilers here, but I hope you enjoy my review of Wizard for Hire: Magic Required (Book #3) by Obert Skye.

Blurb:

The final answer to the existence of magic.


Ozzy and his friend Sigi are in more danger than ever before. After being injected with the mindcontrolling serum, Ozzy is learning to control the minds of people, but he is still being hunted by Ray, the power-mad villain who will stop at nothing to find and possess the formula. And on top of that, Rin still claims he’s a wizard, but he and Clark are missing, leaving Ozzy to wonder once again if magic really does exist.

When it becomes apparent that the minds and free will of all mankind are in danger of being controlled by whoever controls the serum, Ozzy and Sigi join forces with strange new friends that claim magic-like abilities. When Rin finally returns, Ozzy will discover once and for all what happened to his parents, what really happens at those popular fantasy conventions, and if magic truly exists.”

My Book Review:

There’s a lot riding on this book! I have to say that we all had REALLY high expectations for book #3. So, did it live up to the expectations? Yes, yes it did! As always, Ozzy and Sigi have some crazy adventures, and put themselves in grave danger. This time is a little different because they’re in even greater peril than normal (if that’s possible). They make some poor choices, as usual, and no one is there to help…or is there? Some surprise visitors come along, and add to the twists and turns of this crazy story.

Once again, I love the characters in this book. Even though Ozzy and Sigi sometimes make me cringe because of their antics, they are such fun characters. They want to help, they want to make sure Rin is okay, and their intentions are good—they just don’t execute plans very well. As characters, though, they are relatable, realistic, and fun to be around. This book has enough action and mystery to capture the imaginations of even the most reluctant readers. There are crazy twists and turns, and unexpected answers.

This book is well written. The characters are well developed, and the writing style is easy to read and understand. It flows well, and just sucks you right into the story. I love Obert Skye’s figurative language. He hits it out of the park! 

Darkness pushed down like a fat wad of clay under the pressure of a heavy thumb–shoving itself into any cracks, crevasses, or corners it could find. 

If you like action, adventure, mystery, magic, fire, road trips, traffic jams, and Comic Con, you’ll love this story! And…if you want to know whether or not Rin is REALLY a wizard—you need to read this book! I loved it, and my kids did too! Yep, it lived up to expectations and we loved it! Also, the fabulous Brandon Dorman has done it again–the cover art is amazing! You’re free to judge this book by its cover. 

Content Rating PG+Content Rating: PG+ (There isn’t any profanity, but he does use similar words as substitutes. There’s not any “intimacy,” but there is some violence. Ozzy, Sigi, and Rin fight the bad guys, and there is a kidnapping.)

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

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

 

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

 

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Lakeshire Park by Megan Walker

Lakeshire Park by Megan Walker

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Book Review of Lakeshire Park by Megan Walker

As a woman, I’m so thankful to be alive in 2020! Everything may not be perfect, but as a woman in the United States I can vote. I can own property, start a business, have a bank account, and get a college education. I can become a doctor, lawyer, CEO, or even president. I can provide for myself because there are limitless possibilities for a woman in the United States today. Unfortunately, there are still places around the world that prohibit women from certain things, and that needs to change. Now. This book takes place in England in 1820, and things were much different. In order for a woman to be provided for, she needed a good marriage match. Thank goodness we are over that here today! I hope you enjoy my book review of Lakeshire Park by Megan Walker.

Blurb:

Brighton, England 1820


Amelia Moore wants only one thing—to secure the future happiness of her younger sister, Clara. With their stepfather’s looming death, the two sisters will soon be on their own—without family, a home, or a penny to their names. When an invitation arrives to join a house party at Lakeshire Park, Amelia grasps at the chance. If she can encourage a match between Clara and their host, Sir Ronald, then at least her sister will be taken care of.

Little does she know that another guest, the arrogant and overconfident Mr. Peter Wood, is after the same goal for his own sister. Amelia and Peter begin a rivalry that Amelia has no choice but to win. But competing against Peter—and eventually playing by his rules—makes Amelia vulnerable to losing the only thing she has left to claim: her heart.”

My Book Review:

This is such a fun book! The characters make the story, for sure! Amelia personifies a big sister; I love how well she takes care of her little sister Clara. You can feel her love for her sister in all her actions and hear it in all of her words. I love the relationship between the two sisters. If Amelia personifies a big sister, Peter follows suit as a big brother. He has all the qualities a little sister needs to feel safe and protected. He will go to any length to make sure Georgiana has all she needs and wants. The highly sought-after Sir Ronald has his work cut out for him! I liked him as well. He’s a gentleman through and through, which definitely makes the women swoon after him!

I love how the characters are relatable, well developed, and fun. As you read the story, you become a part of this group of friends. That feeling is one of my most favorite parts about reading. How amazing is it to be a part of so many stories?

This book is well written. The writing style of this book draws you in from the beginning. It’s a fun, casual writing style that is easy to read and understand flows well, and allows you to immerse yourself in 19th century England.

I loved this book! It’s a fun story with lots of romance and rivalry. I love how the characters play off of each other. The dialogue is interesting and the story line is fun. Really, though, I’m so glad I don’t live in 19th century England. I’m glad I can provide for myself and not have to rely on a match with a wealthy husband. This is a great book, and I recommend it! It’s a perfect addition to the proper romance genre!

Lakeshire Park Graphic

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

Recommendation: YA (12-18)+

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/3d0l03a

 

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Willa and the Whale by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown

Willa and the Whale by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown

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Book Review of Willa and the Whale by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown

I’ve only seen whales a couple of times in my life. You see, I live much closer to the mountains than I do to the ocean. I LOVE the ocean, though. Well, I actually LOVE the beach, not really the ocean. The ocean scares me. I’ve snorkeled a few times, and it just scares me—especially after I got stung by a jellyfish on my honeymoon (a story for a different day…). I’ve seen Shamu and the other orcas (killer whales) at Sea World, and I’ve seen gray whales off the Oregon Coast. We saw the gray whales on our trip down the Oregon Coast last summer, and it was definitely a highlight of the trip. It’s easy to see why Willa loves whales so much– they’re incredible to watch. I’d love to go out on a whale watching trip sometime, but for now I’ll be content with reading Willa and the Whale by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown.

(Here is a pic of a gray whale we saw last summer off the Oregon Coast.)

Blurb:

“Can a whale talk to a human? Willa thinks so . . .

After losing her mom, Willa is grieving and having a hard time living with her dad and his new family on an island off the coast of Washington State. Her dad tries to cheer her up by taking her whale watching, something Willa’s mom used to do.

While all the passengers are on one side of the boat, Willa encounters a humpback whale on the opposite side. Willa feels so lonely that she starts to talk to the whale—and the whale talks back!

The whale, named Meg, quickly becomes a trusted friend and confidante Willa can speak to whenever she’s by the ocean.

Meg offers sound advice Willa needs about dealing with a nemesis at school and trying to figure out why her friend Marc is keeping secrets about his family life.

Before the story ends, it will take all of Willa’s courage and connections to tackle a problem that’s as big as a blue whale!”

My Book Review:

I LOVE the combination of Chad Morris and Shelly Brown! They have written some amazing middle-grade books! Consequently, I couldn’t wait to read this one; it did not disappoint. I love the writing style they have together—it’s easy to read, understand, and relate to. It’s a casual, yet poignant, style that easily combines children and their curiosity with bigger and difficult-to-talk-about topics. They’ve tackled disability and illness in previous books, and this time around they discuss the death of a loved one.

Willa’s parents divorce, and she moves far away with her mother. After her mother passes away, she moves back to the United States to live with her dad and his new wife and family. They live off the coast of Washington state. Lucky for them, they live in a beautiful part of our country. It’s so green! I love it there. In an effort to cheer Willa up, her dad takes her on a whale watching expedition. While out on the ocean, she meets a humpback whale. To her surprise, the whale talks to Willa!

This story has some tense moments, but it’s a sweet story of friendship, family, love, nature, swimming, and overcoming hard things. The book is well written. The characters are my favorite; they are well developed, relatable, and realistic. Willa and Meg have such a sweet friendship, and I love how Willa fights to reclaim her friendship with Marc. You know how much I love lessons in children’s books, and this one is FULL of great lessons! The great thing is that it’s such a sweet and cute story that the kids won’t even know how many lessons they’re learning.

I loved this book, and I highly recommend it for any home or class library. I have such a hard time because I have all these great books at my house, and I want an extra copy of all of them for my classroom library. My own children would revolt if I took the books to school, though.  I think this would also be a very fun read-aloud.

Content Rating PG+Content Rating: PG+ (This book is clean. There isn’t any profanity, intimacy, or violence. There is a description of Willa’s mother’s death, and there is a lot of discussion of death and grief. There’s also some discussion of drug addiction and rehab.)

Age Recommendation: Middle-Graders (4th-6th) +

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/37gFu6G

 

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mustaches for maddie Squint by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown The Inventor's Secret by Chad Morris
 
 

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: 3.5/5

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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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