The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

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Book Review of The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

This book review of The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland has been more difficult to write than normal. Unexpectedly, this book has found a tender spot in my heart. I have a few connections with this book. In the story, Ailsa receives a heart transplant, and her friend Seb receives a corneal transplant. My mother-in-law received a corneal transplant many years ago, so I related to Seb and his circumstance. Then, about 4 ½ years ago my father-in-law received a heart transplant.

In the months previous to his heart transplant, my father-in-law spent weeks in the hospital. He had an LVAD pump put in, and we went through this strange act of asking for a miracle. I say strange because you want your prayers answered. You want the miracle. But in order for that to happen, someone else must lose his life. Another family must lose a loved one so that you may keep yours.

Then, in the middle of the night we received the phone call. There was a heart that was a match, and he was going into surgery. What a blessing. My father-in-law did really well with his new heart. He got a second chance at life, and he took it. We are so grateful to his donor and the donor’s family. It’s hard because you know that their sacrifice brings your joy.

Sadly, my father-in-law passed away about ten months ago. The wound is still fresh. It wasn’t his heart, though. His heart stood strong until the end. Unfortunately, he had pulmonary fibrosis, and died from complications with that. We will never forget that because of his donor we had 3.5 more years with him. Thank you to those who become donors, who give others a chance at life.  

Blurb:

“Ailsa Rae is learning how to live. She’s only a few months past the heart transplant that—just in time—saved her life. Life should be a joyful adventure. But…

Her relationship with her mother is at a breaking point.

She knows she needs to find her father.

She’s missed so much that her friends have left her behind.

She’s felt so helpless for so long that she’s let polls on her blog make her decisions for her. And now she barely knows where to start on her own.

And then there’s Lennox. Her best friend and one time lover. He was sick too. He didn’t make it. And now she’s supposed to face all of this without him.

But her new heart is a bold heart.

She just needs to learn to listen to it…”

 

My Book Review:

Ailsa has a good voice in this story. She’s authentic. Although she’s not perfect, she is learning. I like how you see her growth as the book progresses. It would be difficult to transition from thinking you could die at any time to thinking of a whole life ahead of you. Sometimes she is strong and other times she isn’t, but isn’t that how life really goes? I don’t know anyone who is strong all.the.time. If they act that way then you know they’re hiding something.

Seb seems like a good guy. I like his voice as well, and think he is great for Ailsa at this time of her life. Does he have some growing up to do as well? Yes, but that’s one of the things I like about him. I like that he’s down-to-earth and normal even though his circumstances might not be.

I think the character development in the book is done very well. The writing style is easy to read and understand, flows well, and sucks you into life in Edinburgh, Scotland. Now I want to go there! Butland does a great job writing dialogue. It doesn’t seem forced or awkward; it feels real and is quite engaging. You do need to pay attention to the dates at the beginning of the chapters because once in awhile it sends you back in time, and I got confused a few times.

The moral of the story is that life is hard, but good. Even boring life can be hard sometimes. You don’t let that pull you down, though.  Stand up, take charge, change what you need to, and go forward with a positive attitude. Look for the good in life, be grateful for what you have, and try to make life better for others. Be kind and forgiving. Love, and allow others to love you. Believe in yourself. Take advantage of the time you have with your loved ones because you never know what tomorrow brings.

I enjoyed this story, and loved getting sucked into Ailsa’s world. It’s fun that she’s a blogger too! I finished reading the book this morning, and I admit that it has touched me in a way that I didn’t expect. I miss my father-in-law, but am so grateful for his heart donor and the 3.5 more years of family parties, camping trips, birthday parties, Christmases, and family dinners we were able to have. Hug your loved ones today!

 

Content Rating RRating: R (There’s quite a bit of profanity, including many “f” words. There isn’t any violence, but there are a few “intimacy” scenes and discussions about it.”

Age Recommendation: Adult

Rating: 3.5/5 (I lowered it from 4 because of all the profanity.)

3.5 Star Rating

If you would like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2qJmEAN

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

 
 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio Lies Jane Austen Told Me by Julie Wright  the nightingale by kristin hannah
 
 
This book review is dedicated to my father-in-law Robert. Love ya, Bob!!!
 
 

Ladybug Girl and the Rescue Dogs by David Soman

Ladybug Girl and the Rescue Dogs by David Soman and Jacky Davis

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Book Review of Ladybug Girl and the Rescue Dogs by David Soman and Jacky Davis

I am a sucker for children’s books! I love them! Maybe it’s sentimental; it goes back to when I was a child and my mom read to me. In any case, I still love children’s books even though my kiddos are all getting big. They love them too because they’ll still pull out the picture books and read them occasionally. Please enjoy my book review of Ladybug Girl and the Rescue Dogs by David Soman and Jacky Davis.

Blurb:

“At the farmers’ market, Lulu spies some adorable furry friends. These rescue dogs need to be brushed, played with, and given water. But more than anything, they need forever homes! Lulu can’t adopt all the dogs herself, but maybe Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad can work together to make a difference. This might be their most important mission ever!”

 

My Book Review:

Where have I been? Did you know there are already 11 Ladybug Girl books? This book makes number 12. She is so cute! If I ever go back to teaching first grade, I’ll need the whole set for sure! The illustrations in this book are adorable! My niece’s name is Lucy and we call her Lulu, so I think Aunt Monica better give this book to her for her birthday!

Along with darling illustrations, Ladybug Girl and the Rescue Dogs also has a great message. Lulu sees the dogs that don’t have homes and wants to help. Of course, her mom says no to adopting them all, so she needs to think of other ways to help. I like that Lulu is helpful in the story. She doesn’t wait around waiting for directions, she takes initiative.

Lulu gets the dogs water, brushes them, and plays with them. At this point she’s joined by the Bug Squad who helps her in her mission. The impromptu dog parade is my favorite part. I like that this book teaches children to help without being asked. It also teaches children that even though they are small, they can still help change the world in small ways.

Dog lovers, children, moms, Ladybug Girl wannabes, teachers, and grandparents will all love this book.  

 

Content Rating GRating: G (Clean!)

Age Recommendation: Everyone!

Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

If you would like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2IZrDEn

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

 
 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

The Napping House by Audrey and Don Wood Laura's Star by Klaus Baumgart  Nina the Neighborhood Ninja by Sonia Panigrahy
 
 

Book Review of Go Ask Fannie by Elisabeth Hyde

Go Ask Fannie by Elisabeth Hyde

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Book Review of Go Ask Fannie by Elisabeth Hyde

Have you ever found it hard to get along with your siblings? As teenagers, my sister and I didn’t get along well. You could say that we were pretty much opposites in regards to the friends we had, the clothes we wore, and what our sides of the room looked like. We had a few difficult years. Now, however, I consider her one of my best friends. It’s great how time and circumstances have brought us closer together. In this book you get to know three adult siblings; they don’t have their relationships with each other quite figured out yet. I hope you enjoy my book review of Go Ask Fannie by Elisabeth Hyde.

Blurb:

“When Murray Blaire invites his three children home to his New Hampshire farm for a long weekend, he of course wants everyone to get along. But Ruth, George, and Lizzie all have their own private agenda—as does Murray, who wants eldest daughter Ruth to convince Lizzie to break up with her much older boyfriend. But Murray’s plans, along with those of his children, are derailed when impulsive Lizzie turns up with a damaged family cookbook and the possibility of criminal charges.

This is not the first time the Blaire family has been thrown into chaos. In fact, that cookbook, an old edition of Fannie Farmer, is the last remaining artifact from a more idyllic time, a time when they had a mother and another brother and a public reputation to maintain. And the handwritten notes within its pages provide tantalizing clues to their mother, whose choices have long been a mystery to her children.

As the Blaire siblings piece together their mother’s story, they come to understand not just what they’ve lost, but the one path they may have to find their way back to one another.”

 

My Book Review:

I am the oldest of six children. Growing up with all of us was a blast, but there were also a few times that we didn’t get along. When that happened, my mom would quote scripture to us. Haha! Smart mom move, right? Matthew 5: 9 “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” We’d all groan when she said it, but she’d get her point across.

Now that we are all adults, we get along great. We have a lot of fun together. Consequently, it made me sad when I saw how difficult the relationship between Ruth, George, and Lizzie was. I like how each character in this book has his or her own identity. You learn about their histories, their current stories, and their fears and misgivings. Past mistakes come to light, along with the good things they do as well. I felt like a part of their family because it was written so well.

The writing style of this book just sucks you in. It’s easy to read, flows well, and draws you into the lives of this family. I liked Murray a lot. My favorite part of his was when he took out his hearing aid so he couldn’t hear his children arguing. Haha! The sibling I most related to was probably Ruth. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not. We’re both oldest children, so maybe that’s why. I liked George’s easy going style, and Lizzie’s heart.

This family has dealt with a lot, and even though you feel bad for them, it definitely makes them more authentic. I loved how the title came into the story; I thought it fit perfectly. Even though the book only took place over a weekend, I enjoyed seeing the growth of each of the characters. The one thing I thought that was a little strange was that a man would keep a cookbook for that long, or borrow it at all. I did like how Lillian utilized the cookbook, and how it became sentimental to the family.

This was a fast, entertaining read for me. I enjoyed delving into the lives of these family members. The complexity of their lives and their personalities made it a fun book to get lost in. It deals with many everyday situations, and some a little more far-fetched. The writing draws you in as a member of the family, and I liked it a lot. I do wish that there had been less profanity.  

 

 Content Rating RRating: R (There’s lots of profanity, including many “f” words. There are also discussions about “intimacy” and a few scenes. Abortion is discussed, and there is some domestic violence.) 

Age Recommendation: Adult

Rating: 3.5/5 (I lowered it from 4 because of the profanity.)

3.5 Star Rating

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

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

 
 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner  A Tangled Mercy by Joy Jordan-Lake
 
 

Can Somebody Please Scratch My Back? by Jory John

Can Somebody Please Scratch My Back by Jory John

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Book Review of Can Somebody Please Scratch My Back by Jory John

Have you ever experienced that annoying itch that won’t go away? It’s the worst when you can’t reach it! You’re trying to scratch it with a pen or a wooden spoon handle, but nothing works. That’s what happens to Elephant in this story. Poor guy. I hope you enjoy my book review of Can Somebody Please Scratch My Back by Jory John. 

Blurb:

“This elephant has an itch.
Can any of the other animals help him scratch his back?
Dynamic duo Jory John and Liz Climo present a hilarious and heartwarming(ish) tale of perseverance, creativity, and helping others (well…most of the time).”
 

My Review:

This is such a cute book! I love the adorable little elephant. The illustrations are well done and so darling. I like the font too. Is that weird? Did you know I have a secret love of different fonts? I know, I’m crazy. A lot of the pages in this book are very simple. There’ll just be one little picture with a speech bubble, but it works well. All the different animals are so fun. My favorite is the crocodile; he’s hilarious! I love his big grin. And elephant’s reaction to him is perfect. Oh, the sloth is great too! Haha!
 
Crocodile in Can Somebody Please Scratch My Back
Photo Credit: Amazon.com
 
 
Elephant gets more and more desperate with each page you turn, and he gets more frustrated too. With his frustration, he may get a little more cranky as well, which is understandable. So sometimes he’s not as polite or as grateful as he should be. This is the perfect opportunity for parents and teachers to talk about manners and being grateful when people help us. 
 
I think this is a darling story. Even though my kids are big, I think I’ll read it to them. My nine-year-old will still enjoy it, at least! This book will make a great addition to any home or class library. And now please excuse me while I go scratch my back (all this talk about itches is making my back itch)!
 
 

Content Rating GRating: G (Clean!)

Age Recommendation: Everyone

Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

If you would like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2EFIids

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

 
 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

The Napping House by Audrey and Don Wood Hail to the Chief by Callista Gingrich  The Best Nest by P.D. Eastman
 
 

Never That Far by Carol Lynch Williams

Never That Far by Carol Lynch Williams

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Book Review of Never That Far by Carol Lynch Williams

My father-in-law passed away less than a year ago, so the pain is fresh. We’re still celebrating “firsts” without him. First Christmas. Birthday. Easter. Our children will still occasionally cry over his passing. It’s tough, and even though we do have a belief in an afterlife, we miss him immensely. In Never That Far by Carol Lynch Williams, Libby and her father mourn the loss of her grandfather. Libby’s experiences may be singular to her, but her feelings of loss and mourning are universal.

Blurb:

“Libby Lochewood is twelve years old when her grampa dies of a heart attack. She is devastated at losing her best friend. Now that he’s passed on, it’s just her and her father, and he is so overcome by grief that he can barely get out of bed in the morning.

The night of the funeral, though, Grampa’s spirit appears in Libby’s bedroom and tells her three important things; first, that she isn’t alone or forgotten—‘The dead ain’t never that far from the living,” he says; second, that she has ‘the Sight’—the ability to see family members who have died; and three, that there is something special just for her in the lake. Something that could help her and her father—if she can find it.

Libby begins her search along with her friends Bobby and Martha, but it’s hard to know if they’ve found what Grampa wanted her to find since they don’t really know what it is. As Libby’s father falls deeper and deeper into depression, Libby and Grampa work together to help her father believe that their loved ones who have died are much closer than he thinks. But it will take all of Libby’s courage and her gift of Sight to convince her father that the dead are never truly gone.

Set in the lush, natural landscape of southern Florida, Never That Far celebrates friendship, hope, and the power of family love.”

 My Book Review:

The pain that accompanies the loss of a loved one is universal; not many are immune. On the other hand, each individual person deals with grief in his or her own way. Some may find comfort in visiting the gravesite while others may find solace in journaling or sleeping. Libby and her father have very different experiences after her grandfather’s passing. Libby handles it ok because her grampa’s spirit visits her each night and comforts her. He visits his son too, but his son doesn’t see because of a lack of belief. Although I haven’t ever seen the spirits of my loved ones who have passed, I believe that there is an afterlife. I believe that I will see them again. If nothing else, that thought gives me comfort.

There were many things that I liked about this book. I liked Libby’s voice. She’s stubborn, determined, and caring. Although she may not listen to her father, she knows what needs to be done. She sets out to do it, no matter what. Bobby is such a good friend. I liked his character a lot. Martha represents what many people may feel: that Libby is crazy.

Libby’s father has lost a lot. He’s lost his parents and his wife. The grief overcomes him. He represents many who are consumed by the pain of losing someone. Libby gets frustrated because he isn’t always present for her, but he tries. The preacher character confused me. I’m not sure why her character was included in the story.

I do believe in an afterlife, but the whole quest that Grampa sends Libby on was a bit strange. It takes a long time to get there; it isn’t easy. The quest and the conclusion of the quest are both vague. I kind of understood the conclusion of the quest, but I’m not sure why it had to be that way. It seems that the same thing could have been found in a different way.

Overall, I liked this book. I think it has some good messages: the importance of family, faith, friendship, and moving forward. It will be especially helpful to someone grieving the loss of a loved one. This book is geared toward YA, and I think it is fine for that age group. It does have a religious overtone, so YA with a religious background will benefit the most. Also, it might be a good idea for parents to discuss the book and some of the issues with their children. 

 

Content Rating PGRating: PG (There’s no profanity, no “intimacy,” and no violence. There are some more difficult themes discussed.) 

Age Recommendation: YA (12-18yrs old) and up 

Rating: 3.5/5

3.5 Star Rating

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

Never That Far Blog Tour Image

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

 
 

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Dead is the New Black (Book #1) by Christine D. Rice

Dead is the New Black by Christine D. Rice

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Recently I received an email from a reader asking me to review Dead is the New Black (Book #1) by Christine D. Rice. She said that her daughter had started this series and she hadn’t had time to preview it first. Of course! I’m always up for new books, and as I hadn’t ever heard of this book, I was excited to read it. It’s a mystery, which I enjoy but don’t read as often, so that got me even more excited. Unfortunately, it took me a little while to find. My local library didn’t carry it, so thankfully amazon did!

Blurb:

 (Taken from amazon.com) “Fashion designer Jeremy St. James is everything Laura Carnegie could want in a man. He’s gorgeous, rich, and talented. The fact that everyone says he’s completely unavailable doesn’t stop her from dreaming of being in her boss’s arms. As a matter of fact, she suspects his inaccessibility is part of his charm.

When Jeremy’s backer is found dead in his office and he’s accused of the crime, he trusts Laura, and only Laura, with the keys to the design room. She wants him back and out of jail, and in the process of exposing a counterfeiting ring and finding the real killer, she uncovers the secretive man under the temperamental artist; a man who is most definitely available, and a man who might not be that inaccessible after all.

If you love Project Runway, or enjoyed The Devil Wears Prada, try Dead Is the New Black.”

 

My Book Review:

Let me start out by saying that I know NOTHING about fashion. Seriously. I’m always deciding I like a trend about a year after it’s popular. I couldn’t tell you any of the famous brands or designers, and the terminology is way over my head. The same goes with sewing. I can sew a straight line (a flannel blanket or pajama pants), but patterns? They scare me!

Needless to say, I’m glad I read this on my Kindle because I had to look up the definitions of a bunch of fashion terminology. There are colors I had no idea existed, and acronyms I still don’t know the meaning of. If you are into the fashion scene or sewing then I think you’ll fit right in and enjoy that part of the story.

I found the writing style witty and smart. Laura is mostly a likable character. She drove me crazy some of the time because of her affection for her off-limits boss and her tendency to throw caution to the wind. She also didn’t have a very high self confidence. I liked the relationship she had with her sister Ruby and her mother. I definitely don’t live in a big city like Manhattan, so a lot of that style of living is new to me. It’s so fun to learn about how people live.

As far as the story line goes, it seemed plausible. Like I said, I’m not involved with the fashion scene at all, so someone who is may have a different opinion. I didn’t think the mystery was all that great. I kept waiting for Laura to prove herself as an amateur detective, and I just didn’t think she really did that. She figured it out in the end, but her sleuthing skills never shone bright.  

There were a lot of characters, and I had a difficult time remembering who was who, and what job they did. I did learn a lot about how patterns are made, the steps in producing an article of clothing, and all the different skills needed.

Right from the start I figured out that the cover art does not match the style of this book. The cover art is cartoon-ish and makes it seem like a YA book. Yep, not true. It’s very deceptive, I think. Overall, this book was ok for me. If you’re into fashion, though, I think you’ll enjoy it more.

 

Content Rating RRating: R (There’s quite a bit of profanity, including several “f” words and taking the Lord’s name in vain. Although there’s not an “intimacy” scene, it is discussed quite a bit. There is a homosexual character and that is also discussed. A murder takes place, although that part is not too graphic or descriptive. There is also some other violence with a beating.)

Age Recommendation: Adult

Rating: 3/5

3 Star Rating
To purchase this book click here: https://amzn.to/2IxECgh
 

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner An Echo of Murder by Anne Perry
 
 

The Lemonade Year by Amy Willoughby-Burle

The Lemonade Year by Amy Willoughby Burle

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Book Review of The Lemonade Year by Amy Willoughby-Burle

Has there ever been a time in your life where things have not turned out as planned? You lose your job or your car breaks down on the side of the freeway? A loved one passes away unexpectedly or an illness affects a loved one? I think it happens to everyone at one time or another, and this book speaks to those moments. The Lemonade Year by Amy Willoughby-Burle is Shadow Mountain’s first women’s fiction novel, and I am thankful to them for allowing me to read and review it!

Blurb:

“Nina’s once-sweet life has unexpectedly turned sour. Her marriage is over, her job is in jeopardy, and her teenage daughter is slipping away from her. Then her father dies and issues with Nina’s mother come to a head; her estranged brother, Ray, comes home; and her sister, Lola, Is tempted to blow a big family secret out of the water. They say the truth will set you free, but first it will make a huge mess of things.

All Nina’s got left is her final photography assignment shooting images for the book 32 Ways to Make Lemonade. Well, that and the attention of a younger man, but Oliver’s on-again-off-again romantic interest in her ebbs and flows so much she is seasick. And then Jack, her ex-husband, shows up, wanting to get back together.

As Nina struggles to find a way through her complicated relationships and to uncover her true path, she discovers just how valuable a second chance at life and happiness can be.”

 

My Book Review:

I think everyone understands hard times. Sometimes we bring the hard things upon us by our actions, and other times they just happen. How we deal with and handle those hard times is what defines us. Can we pick ourselves up, learn from the experience, and move forward? Or do we find ourselves stuck, looking backward? Do we push everyone away and try to handle it ourselves, or do we embrace the love and help of others? This book speaks to these moments.

Nina is a good main character. She has a good voice. She’s easy to relate to, realistic, and likable. When you read about her family it makes you feel like your family is not only normal, but great! I may have thought, “Oh, and I thought my family was bad at that…” a few times. Nina’s family definitely has issues. Each of them is complex and well developed.

Jack and Cassie also seem authentic and realistic. I loved Lola. She is Nina’s sister, an artist, and has dealt with some difficult things in her life. Nina’s brother Ray is a bit harder to relate to. There were times I really liked him and times that I didn’t like him at all. He has a good heart, but has a difficult time making good choices. I liked how these characters were not perfect. They each struggled with something, but were trying to overcome. The one character that I thought was a bit unrealistic was Oliver. I don’t know about that whole side story. It was a bit over-the-top for me; kind of silly and unbelievable.

What I liked about this story was that it shows how difficult life can be. We make choices every day, and sometimes those choices stick with us forever. We’re not perfect and we don’t always handle things correctly. Sometimes we make a bigger mess of things when we try to fix them. We allow our pride to get in the way of progress and growth. But that doesn’t mean that we’re stuck there forever. We can change, learn, grow, and move forward in our lives. I think it also speaks to acceptance and forgiveness of others.

I enjoyed this book a lot. Some books you finish and never think of again. That was not the case for me with this book. The characters and their stories stuck with me; I kept thinking about them and hoping for them long after I finished. I like the title and will probably use it to describe my last year; we definitely had a lemonade year last year. Here’s to hoping this year will be better!

 

Content Rating PG-13+Rating: PG-13+ (There’s no profanity and no violence. There isn’t any “intimacy,” except kissing, but the actual word is said a couple of times. And it is discussed. Some of the themes are geared more toward adults.) 

Age Recommendation: 18+

Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

To purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2H7WRJR

The Lemonade Year Blog Tour Image

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

 
 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Lies Jane Austen Told Me by Julie Wright Check Me Out by Becca Wilhite  The Other Side of the Bridge by Camron Wright
 
 

Girls Who Code: Lights, Music, Code! by Jo Whittenmore

Girls Who Code: Lights, Music, Code! (Book #3) by Jo Whittenmore

Book Review of Girls Who Code: Lights, Music, Code! (Book #3) by Jo Whittenmore

My 12 year-old daughter is really into coding right now. I love it! Unfortunately, I don’t know much about coding, so I hope she learns a lot and then teaches me! Learning to code has so many benefits, and I think every student should learn the basics. Girls Who Code: Lights, Music, Code! by Jo Whittenmore is the third book in the series of middle school girls who are in a coding club at school. It’s a great way to introduce coding to girls, and to help them see coding as something they may want to do. This book is in cooperation with GirlsWhoCode.com.

Blurb:

“It’s almost time for the winter dance, and Maya and her BFFs are in charge of coding the lights and music! Of course they’ll use what they’ve learned in coding club to make it super-cool, though figuring out their plan isn’t easy. And Maya’s friends aren’t listening to any of her ideas.

But Nicole, Maya’s old friend, is happy to listen to her. Before long, Maya finds herself in one big mess—with her friends and at home—and the dance might be a total disaster. Is it too late for Maya to realize that friendship—like coding—is about making sure you look, listen, and learn?”

 

My Book Review:

I love the idea and concept of this book! Using books to introduce children to different people, places, and things is something I did as a teacher and now do as a mom. It’s a great way to teach without telling them they’re learning. See how sneaky that is? Coding may seem scary and difficult when children (and adults) first learn about it. However, if they can see it put to use, it helps break down the barriers.

That’s the idea behind this book, and the two previous books. If you can create a cute, fun story that girls will enjoy reading, and make coding fun, it may help girls take more of an interest in coding. The girls in the story come from all different kinds of backgrounds and ethnicities, which is great. Most of them seem like sweet girls, and they’re smart! I like it when being smart is portrayed as a good thing.

The things these girls do in coding club amazes me! I even learned a few things. (Haha! That’s not hard…I don’t know anything about coding!) It’s super fun what they end up putting together. One thing I had hoped for was more coding. For a book about coding, there wasn’t a ton of it. It’s a good start though.

There are some good lessons taught in this book as well. Honesty, trust, treating your parents with respect, and taking responsibility for your actions are just a few of the lessons. The problem is that there is A LOT of drama before they can get to the lessons learned. Wow. I don’t do drama, and have taught my girls not to get sucked into the drama, and this book is 85% drama, 13% coding, and 2% lessons learned. It’s a bit much.

One thing that didn’t make sense to me was that the girls are in middle school, but they’re going with boys (as dates) to the dance. It felt like they should be in high school instead. However, the reading level of the book seemed a bit low to include boys, as dates, and all that drama. The reading level and language made it seem like the girls should be even younger than middle school. I thought there was a bit of a disconnect because those things weren’t congruent.

Overall, though, everything came together in the end. The girls accomplished their coding goals and learned some good lessons. I think it does do a good job of introducing some things that coding can do, and how coding can be used in everyday situations.

 

Content Rating PG-13Rating: PG-13 (There’s no profanity, no “intimacy,” and no violence. I’m rating it at PG-13 because the girls talk about the origins of the Tooth Fairy, and I want to make sure girls are old enough to know that. 🙂 Also, there is a lesbian couple in the book.)

Age Recommendation: 13-14 years-old and up (See above)

Rated: 3.5/5

3.5 Star Rating

To purchase this book, click here: http://amzn.to/2px4txV

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

 
 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Wonder by R.J. Palacio Focused by Noelle Pikus Pace  Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
 
 

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Book Review of Janitors by Tyler Whitesides

Janitors (Book #1) by Tyler Whitesides

Book Review of Janitors (Book #1) by Tyler Whitesides

 What is going on at Welcher Elementary? What are those crazy things Spencer can see in his classrooms and in the halls? Why can’t anyone else see them? And what does the school janitor have to do with it? Who can he trust? My children and I have loved this book. It’s so fun! I hope you enjoy my book review of Janitors by Tyler Whitesides.

Blurb:

No one takes Spencer Zumbro seriously when he tries to warn his classmates about the mysterious things prowling the halls and classrooms of Welcher Elementary School. But when he sees Marv, the janitor, going after one of the creatures with a vacuum, he knows he’s not the only one who can see them.

With the help of his new friend, Daisy, Spencer has to find out what the janitors know. The children’s search uncovers the magic taking place behind the scenes of their seemingly ordinary school, where a battle is being waged for the minds of the students. Who can be trusted—and can Spencer and Daisy protect their school and possibly the world?

My Book Review:

My boys (ages 11 and 10) read this book awhile ago and have been telling me and telling me and telling me that I need to read it. They loved it. It made it even better that Tyler Whitesides actually came to their school and signed their book. I had so many other books to read that I hadn’t gotten around to it…until now.

If you’ve read my blog before, you have probably heard me say that I taught first grade before I had children. When I go back to teaching, I will not see the school in the same light. Ever. Do you trust the janitors? Or are they the bad guys? And please don’t tell me those creepy things are in my kids’ school too!

This book is a fun and fast read. It is filled with betrayal, action, crazy dust creatures, friendship, big messes, and lots of cleaning supplies. And these are no ordinary cleaning supplies! Mr. Whitesides has created a fun and exciting world filled with magic and secrets.

The characters are well developed and realistic. I could picture the principal perfectly. I loved the descriptions of him. Spencer and Daisy seem like cute, normal kids. I thought they were childish enough that it felt realistic, yet brave enough to make it exciting. Spencer’s mom is the best! She’s awesome, and I could definitely see myself acting that way in order to protect one of my children.

The janitors are a little crazy, but great characters. I really enjoyed learning about how the creatures affected the students. Hahaha!!! Now we know why we tend to fall asleep in class, or why we sometimes get distracted while we walk down the hallways. Did I mention the cleaning supplies? I want some of them. Yep, I think I want a broom. That would be great!

 The story line was a little predictable, but it didn’t stop me from reading. It still has enough action and adventure, along with a few surprises, to be exciting. I liked this book a lot and I know the kids love it! And, the best part? It’s clean! Love it! I highly recommend this book! Now……I just need to dig through my kids’ rooms to find book #2!

Content Rating PG+ Rating: PG+ (There’s no profanity or “intimacy.” One of the main characters does die. It’s sad but not detailed or gruesome. They do fight the bad guys and the bad creatures, so there is some minor violence.)

Recommendation: 3rd grade and up (Middle-Graders)

Rating: 4/5

4 Star Rating

To purchase this book, click here: http://amzn.to/2pq4Wkw

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Mysteries of Cove by J. Scott Savage Wizard for Hire by Obert Skye  Fablehaven book #1 by Brandon Mull

(This post contains affiliate links. You don’t pay any extra and I receive a small commission.)

This post was first published on 8/30/13; updated on 3/20/18

The Other Side of the Bridge by Camron Wright

The Other Side of the Bridge by Camron Wright

Book Review of The Other Side of the Bridge by Camron Wright

Have you ever lost someone? I’ve lost my grandparents and, more recently, my father-in-law. It’s tough! Each person grieves in his or her own way. What helps one person may not help the other person at all. And the timing is different for everyone. The Other Side of the Bridge by Camron Wright delves into the difficult world of loss and suicide. Two very different characters handle the loss in their lives in their own ways, but they have one thing in common: the bridge.

Blurb:

“Katie Connelly has lived in San Francisco all her life. Her late father made his career on the Golden Gate Bridge, and the many stories of how he saved jumpers still haunt her. And now her job assignment is to write about the history of the bridge—a history that includes a secret journal about a promise ring and a love story that may be the answer to her unresolved sorrow.

Meanwhile, Dave Riley, a marketing executive in New York, has sorrows of his own. Grasping at straws after tragedy strikes his family, he decides to follow a daydream that has turned into an obsession: to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge on a motorcycle on the Fourth of July.

Does the bridge somehow mysteriously hold the answers both Katie and Dave are looking for? Or will they find something completely different when they get to the other side?” 

My Book Review:

I loved Camron Wright’s The Rent Collector. Therefore, when I had the chance to review his new book, The Other Side of the Bridge, I couldn’t resist! The story switches between Katie Connelly and Dave Riley. I thought that the character development was pretty good, overall. Katie lives in San Francisco and recently lost her father. She works at the university doing research. Dave lives outside of Manhattan. He works in marketing at a big company in New York. He is dealing with a tragic loss.

The writing switches between the two characters. I didn’t find it difficult to switch. Katie’s story is written in italics to help distinguish between the two of them. I also thought their voices were different enough. Of the two, Katie definitely stood out to me as more relatable and amiable. Dave isn’t quite as likable, and although his story is tragic, it is also harder to relate to. Katie’s grieving feels more “normal,” if you can say that, where Dave definitely takes it to the extreme.

Don’t get me wrong, I felt empathy for Dave, I really did. However, his extreme reaction compared to his feelings at the beginning of the book made it seem like a discord to me. Who am I to say though? I’ve never experienced what he did. The event that happened at the end, after he technically reached his destination (I’m trying to not give anything away here…), was a bit much for me. It felt over the top and out of place, in my opinion.

One of my favorite things in the book was learning about the Golden Gate Bridge, how it was built, and the people that built it. Patrick O’Riley’s story is so good, and I enjoyed reading through his journal with Katie. I loved learning about the Claddagh faith rings.

Womens_Silver_Claddagh_Ring

Aren’t they so pretty? According to http://www.celtic-weddingrings.com:

The Claddagh ring meaning is all about love, loyalty, and friendship. The two hands represent friendship, a heart symbolizes love and the crown on top is for loyalty. The ring can be worn on different fingers or hands, depending on status. 

Patrick’s words from the book describe his love for Anna:

With this crown, I give my loyalty. With these hands, I promise to serve. With this heart, I give you mine.

I think they are beautiful, and I love the meaning that they have. That part of the story was my favorite.

At first I felt that the book would be very predictable. Some of it was, but not in the way I originally thought. What I originally predicted was way off course, thankfully. However, I felt disappointed by the moment at which the characters cross paths. I had hoped for a little more, but I guess it fit for each of them. The ending felt a bit rushed, but I liked it.

The book as a whole felt a bit depressing, but it talks a lot about overcoming loss in your life. It also delves into suicide. Both of these topics need to be discussed, so why not allow people to learn through a good story? We all grieve differently, and there’s no right or wrong way to experience grief. I did like the lessons it taught about overcoming, moving on, and learning to live again—guilt free.

Overall, I liked The Other Side of the Bridge by Camron Wright.  Unfortunately, I didn’t like it as much as I liked The Rent Collector, but it’s a good, thought provoking read.

 

Content Rating PG-13Rating: PG-13 (There’s no profanity and no “intimacy,” except for a brief kiss. I rated it higher because of the discussions about suicide.)

Age Recommendation: 14 years-old and up

Rated 3.5/5 stars

3.5 Star Rating

To purchase this book, click here: http://amzn.to/2FP2uir

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

 
 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

The Rent Collector by Camron Wright The Evolution of Thomas Hall by Kieth Merrill  Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio
 
 

(This post contains affiliate links. You don’t pay any extra and I receive a small commission.)