Madam Tulip and the Bones of Chance by David Ahern

Madam Tulip and the Bones of Chance by David Ahern

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Book Review of Madam Tulip and the Bones of Chance by David Ahern

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this book, but it wasn’t the adventure I found in its pages. Wow! What a ride! I hope you enjoy m book review of Madam Tulip and the Bones of Chance by David Ahern.

Blurb:

“A surprise role in a movie takes actress Derry O’Donnell to a romantic castle in the Scottish Highlands.  But romance soon turns to fear and suspicion.  Someone means to kill, and Derry, moonlighting as celebrity fortune-teller Madam Tulip, is snared in a net of greed, conspiracy and betrayal.

A millionaire banker, a film producer with a mysterious past, a gun-loving wife, a PA with her eyes on Hollywood, a handsome and charming estate manager—each has a secret to share and a request for Madam Tulip.  As  Derry and her friend Bruce race to prevent a murder, she learns to her dismay that the one future Tulip can’t predict is her own.

Madame Tulip and the Bones of Chance is the third in a series of thrilling and hilarious Tulip adventures in which Derry O’Donnell, celebrity fortune-teller and reluctant amateur detective, plays the most exciting and perilous roles of her acting life, drinks borage tea, and fails to understand her parents.”

My Book Review:

Sometimes I wish I had a crystal ball and could predict the future. Wouldn’t that be nice? Then other times I’m happy to be surprised. If you could see what was coming would you do things differently? Would it change how you live your life, how you treat people, and how you react? Would it make you second guess yourself? A little deep, I know, but it makes me curious.

Derry is a fun character. I like how particular she is about her Madam Tulip costume and props. She has a cute personality. Derry is not particularly intuitive when it comes to herself and how others feel about her. She tends to miss major clues. When it comes to other people, though, she does a little better. Sometimes I thought she acted as a strong character, and other times I was a bit disappointed by her lack of action.

I am not one to believe in crystal balls or tarot cards. Unfortunately, Madam Tulip would not see me in her booth. She does make for a fun character though. The story line is pretty good. There were a few side stories that didn’t really add to the plot line, but I guess they gave you a little more insight into Derry’s life. It’s well written and exciting. There are some crazy twists; I thought one of them was a bit unbelievable, but by then I was into the story and couldn’t put it down.

I liked the writing style, the descriptions, and the character development. There were a lot of characters, though, and I could not keep them straight. Even at the end I had a difficult time remembering who certain characters were. I liked Bruce a lot, and think that maybe Derry should pay a little more attention to him.

Overall, this is a fun and entertaining read. I’d read more of the Madam Tulip books.

Content Rating PG-13Rating: PG-13 (There’s only a little bit of profanity in this book. There isn’t any “intimacy.” Although there is some brief violence, it isn’t overly graphic.)

Recommendation: 16+

My Rating: 3.5/5

3.5 Star Rating

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2J1cvdr

Disclosure: I did receive a free book in exchange for my honest review. This did not sway my opinion in any way.

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the book thief by markus zusak An Echo of Murder by Anne Perry  Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
 

Book Review of Boying Up by Mayim Bialik, PhD

Boying Up by Mayim Bialik

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Book Review of Boying Up: How to be Brave, Bold, and Brilliant by Mayim Bialik, Phd

Ugh! The dreaded talk. You know the one. The talk that everyone should have with their kids. The one where you have to use real names for body parts and go into details about the birds and the bees. Yeah, I know that talk. My husband and I decided that he would talk with our boys and I would talk with our girls. We have two of each. He’s already talked with our boys, and I have had the talk with one of our girls. One more to go for me. This book is great for a follow-up of that talk. Here’s my book review of Boying Up by Mayim Bialik, PhD.

Blurb:

“Growing from a boy into a man is no simple feat. Bodies are changing, social circles are evolving, hair is appearing in places it never was before—and on top of it all, there’s the ever-present pressure to conform to the typical idea of what it means to be ‘manly’ and masculine. But it’s easier to Boy Up if you’re armed with facts.

Want to know why your voice cracks like that? What you should eat to build muscle, or how to talk to someone you have a crush on? How about if someone bullies you or spreads rumors about you?

Using her own experience as a mom of boys and plenty of scientific information, Mayim Bialik, neuroscientist and star of The Big Bang Theory, talks about what it means to grow from a boy to a man biologically, psychologically and sociologically.

Want to be brave, bold and brilliant? You can! Start by reading this book.”

My Book Review:

This book is packed with great information! Mayim Bialik does not mince words. She speaks boldly and bravely about everything that happens when boys grow into men. The first thing she discusses is anatomy for boys and girls. There are even drawings to go along with it. It’s very straightforward and accurate. She uses the correct names for everything and says it like it is. I like that she even goes into the science of X and Y chromosomes and DNA.

Throughout the book, Mayim talks a lot about how everyone is different. She discusses how there isn’t one right way to be a boy. It’s so good to hear because there are stereotypes for boys just like there are for girls. She talks about how it’s ok for boys to like different things and look different from each other. Not all boys need to like cars and sports.

I love the section on how to take care of their bodies. I think all YA boys need to read this section. Seriously. I know they want to survive on soda pop and candy bars. Mayim goes into a lot of detail about how much water to drink each day, proper nutrition, and mindfulness when eating. She also talks about the importance of exercising. She gives lots of different ways to exercise; it doesn’t need to be football practice for every boy.

Mayim doesn’t stop there. I loved the chapter on how boys learn. She is a neuroscientist, so she has very detailed and interesting scientific facts. One thing I thought was really good was when she discussed the culture of media among boys and how they like video games and such. I guess there is actually science behind why boys get all competitive and like to win.

She does talk about why some boys are more bothered by violence and other things in media. I agree that there are different sensitivity levels. I also think that sometimes that is because children are desensitized by watching violence and more adult themes when they are too young. I don’t allow my children to watch PG-13 movies until they are 13. And even then, there are certain movies I won’t let them watch until they are older.

How boys love is the next chapter in the book. Mayim goes into intimacy, but intimacy as in getting to know someone well and making ourselves vulnerable. She talks about relationships with family and friends and how those can change over time. One thing she goes into more detail about is “Brotherhood” and boys as “their buddies, their bros, their homeboys, their dudes, their posse.” There are lots of different places that boys can find their peeps.

Then, yes, Mayim discusses the science of romance. I think it’s great to point these things out to boys so they understand what they’re experiencing. She talks about physical things that happen when boys are around someone they may be interested in. Things like sweating, dry mouth, and babbling. Ha! It’s good to know it happens to boys too. She goes into greater detail about attraction, dating, and courtship. This includes physical “intimacy.”

I know it’s hard for most parents to discuss this with their children. It is for me! It’s essential, though. Mayim goes into detail about it, of course using correct body part names and how it occurs. One thing she stresses is that it does feel good, but it is primarily to make babies. And that if you are doing it, you will most likely make a baby at some point. This is a good reminder for teenagers with raging hormones.

She talks about how waiting until marriage used to be the norm, but isn’t as common now.  We have stressed to our children that waiting until marriage is important. I think it’s important because it is so intimate. There are emotions and feelings that occur when people are intimate in that way, and being in a stable, strong relationship is important. Then, if babies come, there is already a foundation for that family. She also discusses that it’s a special thing; it’s not evil and you shouldn’t be afraid of it either. But use precautions. Be safe.

This book goes deep into many things that are difficult to talk about. It’s very informative. Although there is a lot of information, good and very detailed information, Mayim does a great job of making it accessible. Her writing is so easy to read; it’s not awkward or scary or anything. This book should be used as a companion to a parental discussion. It would be great to have your son read a chapter and discuss it, or discuss it at the end. Boys and dads could read it together. My boys might die if I read it with them.

Content Rating PG-13Rating: PG-13 (This book goes in depth about human anatomy and physical “intimacy.” It’s the birds and the bees talk plus a whole lot more.)

Recommendation: YA (I would strongly recommend that parents either read it before or with their boys. Only parents know what each child can handle.)

My Rating: 4.5/5

4.5 Star Rating

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

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

 

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Girls Who Code: Lights, Music, Code! (Book #3) by Jo Whittenmore the hundred dresses  To the Moon by Jeffrey Kluger
 
 

Make a Teacher Happy: Prevent Summer Brain!

Summer Fit 2-3

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Prevent Summer Brain with Summer Fit Workbooks!

Remember last fall when the kids went back to school and had forgotten most of what they’d learned the previous year? It’s called…Summer Brain. Ouch! All of that work–gone. How do you prevent Summer Brain? You have to be a mean mom and make the kids use their brains this summer. I know, it’s hard. I’ve grown callous to the mean summer mom eye rolls because I’ve been doing it for so long.  It’s a good thing, I promise.
 
I’ve tried a few different things like printing off my own packets, workbooks, and online programs. I finally settled on the Summer Fit workbooks. It’s so easy and mom friendly!
 

Why Use Summer Fit Workbooks to Prevent Summer Brain?

I have used the Summer Fit workbooks for a few years now, and I LOVE them!!! They have a level for each grade in elementary school (they start with pre-K and go to 8th grade), which is great. The workload is the perfect amount. Each day there is a page of reading and a page of math. It isn’t super hard, but it is hard enough to keep the kids from forgetting everything over the summer.
 
I love the Friday material. Every Friday is a value (compassion, determination…..that kind of thing), and it highlights a person who exemplifies that value. The kids do activities surrounding that value and person. Also, each day has an exercise for the kids to do. It’s not hard, but it gets them up and moving. And the great thing about these books is that it eliminates all the mom-work. There’s no searching the internet or printing off individual worksheets; it’s all right there in the book. It makes mom’s job so much easier!!! They even have a book for 7th and 8th graders, which is great because it’s harder to know what the older kids need. I highly recommend the Summer Fit workbooks!
 
 

Content Rating GRating: G (clean!!!)

 Recommendation: Pre-K to 8th grade

 

Which One Is Right For You?

(If you’d like to purchase a workbook, click on the image below.)

This post was first published on 5/23/16; Updated on 5/11/18.

Book Review of Miss Wilton’s Waltz by Josi S. Kilpack

Miss Wiltons Waltz by Josi Kilpack

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Book Review of Miss Wilton's Waltz by Josi S. Kilpack

I liked the first book in this series, The Vicar’s Daughter. So, I got excited when I heard about the second book. I like how it’s told from Lenora’s perspective, and how it shows her healing and growth throughout the book. Lenora definitely got the raw end of the deal in the first book, so I hoped that she would be able to find happiness in this second book. Does she? How does her teaching go? Well, I won’t reveal too much, but find out what I thought about this book in my book review of Miss Wilton’s Waltz by Josi. S. Kilpack.

Blurb:

“Lenora Wilton has spent her life hiding behind the keys of her beloved pianoforte and the vibrancy of her younger sister, Cassie. But Lenora is ready for a change and begins her journey of self-discovery by traveling to Bath to live with Aunt Gwen and teach music at an all-girls’ boarding school. She is different in Bath and enjoys the freedom and independence of her new life there.

When Lenora meets Aiden Asher, she finds herself attracted to him, but her unexpected feelings become more complicated when she learns that Catherine—Lenora’s newest and most troublesome student in the school—is Mr. Asher’s niece.

Catherine is a difficult student, but Lenora feels as though she is making progress with the girl even as the chemistry between Lenora and Aiden increases. When they share a passionate kiss by the River Avon, Lenora feels it is the beginning of a new forever—until she learns that Aiden has withheld an important detail about his life that changes everything.

Lenora closes her heart to him, and Aiden, caught between his obligation and his heart, must do what he can to make amends. And Lenora, after years of hiding from everyone and everything, faces a decision only she can make.”

My Book Review:

I’m a sucker for romantic stories. You add teaching to that, and I’m hooked. Reading about Lenora teaching and trying new things to help her students reminded me of my teaching days. It almost made me miss it. And then comes Catherine. Ha! Yep, I don’t miss dealing with unruly students. I had a few of those, and it’s difficult. You know that they just need love and stability, but it’s hard to get them to the point where they trust you.

I liked Lenora a lot. Her character was well developed and real. Although I could relate to her in some aspects, I couldn’t in others. That’s fine, though because people are complex. I liked her dedication to her students and felt bad for her difficult position. Aiden grew on me; I didn’t like him at first. He seemed gruff and insensitive, and made some choices that irritated me. His character was well developed, complex, and also real.

Catherine is one of those characters that you want to like. You feel so bad for her and the struggles she’s had in her lifetime. It seems as if when you put your arms around her and care for her that she’ll either stomp on your love or embrace it wholeheartedly. And, you never know which one you’ll get. I thought her character was also developed well. Aunt Gwen was one of my favorite characters. She seemed like she would be fun to hang out with.

I thought the book was well written. It was a little predictable, but there were a few surprises along the way that made it interesting. I liked the story line and the characters. There were a few times that the characters irritated me because of their choices, but overall I enjoyed it. It’s a fast, easy, entertaining read. I thought that there was just enough romance; it wasn’t overly cheesy (Just a little cheesy—but you need a little cheese with your romance, right?) If you enjoyed The Vicar’s Daughter, you will enjoy Miss Wilton’s Waltz.   

Content Rating PGRating: PG (There isn’t any profanity or violence. There’s no “intimacy” except for kissing.)

Recommendation: Young Adults and up

My Rating: 3.5/5

3.5 Star Rating

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2KIXB9y

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Forever and Forever by Josi S. Kilpack The Lady of the Lakes by Josi S. Kilpack  A Heart Revealed by Josi S. Kilpack
 
 
 

Book Review of Essentialism by Greg McKeown

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

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Book Review of Essentialism by Greg McKeown

I have heard so much about this book. It has been recommended to me several times. I put it on hold at the library and didn’t receive it for a few months–that’s how popular it is. And now I can see why. From the very beginning of this book I felt like it was written for me. It spoke to me! Seriously. Weird. It’s kind of creepy that Greg McKeown, the author, knows me so well. Of course he doesn’t know me at all, but wow, I think he wrote this for me. I hope it helps you as much as it has already helped me! Please enjoy my book review of Essentialism by Greg McKeown.

 

Blurb:

“Essentialism isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done.

Have you ever found yourself stretched too thin?

Do you simultaneously feel overworked and underutilized?

Are you often busy but not productive?

Do you feel like your time is constantly being hijacked by other people’s agendas?

If you answered yes to any of these, the way out is the Way of the Essentialist.

Essentialism is more than a time-management strategy or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution toward the things that really matter.

By forcing us to apply more selective criteria for what is Essential, the disciplined pursuit of less empowers us to reclaim control of our own choices about where to spend our precious time and energy—instead of giving others the implicit permission to choose for us.

Essentialism is not one more thing—it’s a whole new way of doing everything. It’s about doing less, but better, in every area of our lives. Essentialism is a movement whose time has come.”

My Book Review:

As I stated above, I have heard a lot about this book. It’s been recommended to me a few times, and I’ve heard about it on podcasts and from other people. Now that I’ve read it, I can see why it came so highly recommended. I’ve been converted to Essentialism for sure! It makes so much sense. The philosophy is truly life changing.

I’m a people pleaser and a rule follower. My husband is always getting on me because I can’t say no. I’ll take on whatever anyone asks of me, and then I get bogged down and stressed, and I don’t have enough time to do it all. Well, not anymore! This book has liberated me. It has given me permission to say no, and I’m going to use it! Honestly, it’s going to be hard. A lifetime of apparently bad habits will not be easy to change, but I am going to try really hard because I need to. For my family and me, this could be life changing.

The book is so well written. Greg McKeown has a way with words. It’s easy to read and understand, it flows well, and it is so inspiring. He makes it all seem so easy, so hopefully it will be. I love the formatting of this book. There are a few illustrations, and some pages are white on black. He uses really big fonts to highlight important points, and it’s eye catching.

The chapters are broken down into bite size pieces. Each chapter begins with a quote, which I love. Then he makes sure to state how an Essentialist would think in certain situations compared to how a Nonessentialist would think in the same situations. Ooops! I usually fit under the Nonessentialist way of thinking, but that is already changing. The writing is clear and concise and does a great job of illustrating his points.

As stated above, I got this book from the library, but I think I need to buy it because I want to highlight and bookmark almost the whole thing. I want to remember what he said because I know it’s going to take time to change my way of thinking. This is one of those rare books that I know I will want to reference time and time again. To be able to take back the control in my life will be amazing. What? I can choose? Seriously. How do we forget that we have agency? I love this book, and I highly recommend it. 

Content Rating GRating: G (It’s clean. There’s nothing inappropriate in it.)

Recommendation: 16+

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

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

 

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the seven habits of highly effective families by stephen r covey Does Change Have to be So Hard by Julie Donley, RN  The Compliment Quotient by Monica Strobel
 

Book Review of To the Moon! by Jeffrey Kluger

To the Moon by Jeffrey Kluger

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Book Review of To The Moon! by Jeffrey Kluger

When I was a kid, I remember watching the space shuttle launches. I loved watching the launches! To think that those people would be going into space was amazing! Then, when I was in third grade there was a special launch; the Challenger would take Christa McAuliffe, a teacher, up into space. I wanted to be a teacher, so I was really excited for her! All the third graders got together and sat on the floor around the small television. Then, we watched in horror as the Challenger exploded before our very young, innocent eyes. That experience haunted me for a long time. Thankfully, that didn’t happen to the crew of the Apollo 8 spacecraft! I hope you enjoy my book review of To the Moon! By Jeffrey Kluger.

Blurb:

“The year was 1968, and the American people were still reeling from the spacecraft fire that killed the Apollo 1 crew a year earlier. On top of that, there were rumors that the Russian cosmonauts were getting ready to fly around the moon. NASA realized that they needed to take a bold step—and that they needed to take it now. They wanted to win the space race against Russia and hold true to President Kennedy’s promise to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. So in a risky move, a few days before Christmas of that year, they sent Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders to the moon!

This book about the exciting and inspiring true story of Apollo 8, the first crewed American spaceship to break free of Earth’s orbit and reach the moon, tells the story of these three brave men, the frantic rush to get their rocket ready, and the journey that gave the American people—and the world—a new look at the planet we live on and the corner of space we inhabit.”

 

My Book Review:

I found this book fascinating! I love reading about history, especially about moments in time where people were able to accomplish the unbelievable! Moments when people come together to do the unimaginable are so inspiring! To the Moon! Is very well written! It’s nonfiction, but it reads like fiction. Seriously. It’s easy to follow and understand, and it brings the past to life. The descriptions of all the equipment and procedures are so well written that you understand exactly what is going on. It’s not boring, and it doesn’t drag on.

These events were exciting in real time, and Jeffrey Kluger does an amazing job of making them just as exciting today. Even though I knew that everything turned out okay, I still found myself holding my breath and gasping when something went wrong. What an exciting time in America’s history! I may not have been alive in 1968, but this book made the whole experience part of my history.

There is so much we can learn from the astronauts and the people at NASA during the space race. This book has so many lessons that they learned that are important today. I love that the book is written for YA. It should be required reading for every American history class that studies the 1960s. If your YA needs to read a nonfiction book, this would be a great choice! I highly recommend this book for YA and adults alike! The pictures at the end sum it up perfectly; I enjoyed putting faces to the  names of all these people I had come to look up to.

 

Content Rating PGRating: PG (It’s clean. There’s no profanity or “intimacy,” but there were people that died, and their deaths were shocking.)

Age Recommendation: YA (12-18) and up

My rating: 4.5/5

4.5 Star Rating

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

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

 
 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

  Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand  The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
 
 

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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The Evolution of Thomas Hall by Kieth Merrill Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand 
 
 

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

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

 
 

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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: Crack the Code! by Sarah Hutt

Girls Who Code: Crack the Code by Sarah Hutt

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Book Review of Girls Who Code: Crack the Code! by Sarah Hutt

I don’t know anything about coding. I know, not good for someone who spends a lot of time online! My daughter is really into coding right now, and I have not known what to do to inspire or help her along this path. Until now. Thank you Girls Who Code! Girls Who Code: Crack the Code! by Sarah Hutt is full of activities, games, and puzzles that reveal the world of coding. It is put forth in conjunction with Girls Who Code.com.

Blurb:

“You might not realize it, but computer coding is everywhere! It’s not just in your phone and computer, but also in music, movies, robots, spaceships, and more. The world is powered by code, and your key to understanding how is at your fingertips!

Grab your pens and pencils for this book packed with word games, mazes, quizzes, and more that show how coding is a part of everything we see and do. You might even find inspiration for your next coding project!”

 

My Book Review:

This activity book is packed full of activities surrounding coding. It has a topic for everyone: robots, digital art and animation, sports, and music. There are activities like mazes, crossword puzzles, collages, and designing your own emojis. Then there are activities that are more in-depth like cutting out and gluing together your own robot or working with a partner and having your partner draw as you explain step by step what to draw. There’s a fortune-teller that you may cut out, and activities that you do on each side of it.

This looks like so much fun! I like how it breaks everything down into bite-size chunks so you learn, but don’t get overwhelmed. I had my 12 year-old daughter do a bunch of these activities. She had a lot of fun! She is really into coding right now, so I’m just going to have her keep on going in this book!

 

Content Rating GRating: G (Clean!)

Age Recommendation: 5th -6th grade and up

Rated: 4/54 Star Rating

To purchase this book click here: http://amzn.to/2ueK1ql

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

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Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

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

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
 
 

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