The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss

The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss

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Book Review of The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss

As a lover of classic literature, I cannot believe that I haven’t read The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss! I watched the movie as a child, and from what I can remember, the book is not like the movie at all. That’s always how it goes though, right? What an adventure! Let’s just say that if my family were ever shipwrecked and stranded on an island, I would hope it would be the same island as the Robinsons. We would definitely not do as well as they did! What they accomplished is pretty impressive!

Blurb:

The Robinsons leave Switzerland in hopes of settling far away as missionaries, then afterward settling as citizens elsewhere. Their journey did not go as planned, and they ended up shipwrecked on a deserted island off the coast of New Guinea. They took from the ship what they could, including seeds and some animals. From the Preface: “…few books have obtained such deserved popularity. The gradual progress of the family from utter destitution and misery, to happiness and abundance, arising from their own labour, perseverance, and obedience, together with the effect produced on the different characters of the sons by the stirring adventures the met with, created a deep and absorbing interest.” The family learns together how to improve their lives. They work hard, endure many hardships, and thrive on the island.

My Book Review:

You know the game where you’re stranded on a deserted island and you can only take 3 things? One of my things would be this family. Seriously. If you’re going to get stranded, get stranded with the Swiss family Robinson! The book is fairly well written. You can tell by the way the father (the narrator) addresses and talks about his wife that this book was written a long time ago. Another clue is that he uses the Biblical name for their donkey (if you know what I mean), which is different than most people speak today.

The characters are well developed, and I liked them. I found the father to be a bit much sometimes. He seriously knows everything: what all of the plants are and what to use them for; how to plant crops; how to hunt, skin, and save the meat; how to build buildings and bridges and carts and canoes; how to navigate in the ocean; how to raise animals; how to build canals for fresh water drinking, bathing, and crop watering. You get the picture. The mother miraculously knows how to spin cotton to make clothing and how to cook.

Each of the boys has a unique personality and talents. I liked that they were able to find roles in the family to make those talents shine, and to improve them. Another thing I loved about the boys was how well they took care of their mother. They loved her so much they would spend days or weeks building things for her to make her life easier or more comfortable. Kids today could definitely do more of that!

I liked how they prayed and observed the Sabbath Day; you don’t read about that a lot today. I also liked how hard they all worked, and the good attitudes they had about their situation. It’s a little slow at points, but there’s some good action interspersed to make up for it.

There were a couple of things I didn’t like or that I noticed. They killed quite a few animals (some out of necessity–some not). We all know they need to eat, so that’s not the problem. One of the children, especially, killed some animals he didn’t need to. It’s a magical island—did you know that? On this one island there are flamingos, bears, bison, and penguins.

Overall, I am impressed with how they thrived on the island–didn’t just survive. Positive attitudes, hard work, gratitude, and working together helped them achieve this. During this difficult pandemic, I think we could all learn some lessons from this family. Yep, if you’re going to get stranded on a deserted island, make sure the Swiss family Robinson family is with you!  I did like the book and think it’s worth reading.

Content Rating PG+Content Rating: PG+ (There is minimal profanity in this book. They do use the Biblical name for the donkey, which technically isn’t a swear word in that context, but my kids consider it one. There’s not any “intimacy,” and very little violence. They call the native people “savages,” which isn’t too PC, but it was written a long time ago.)

Age Recommendation: YA+

My Rating: 3/5

3 Star Rating

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/32o1ooa

 

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Seven at Sea by Erik and Emily Orton Willa and the Whale by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown What the Other Three Don't Know by Spencer Hyde
 
Photo Credit: goodreads.com
 

No Slam Dunk by Mike Lupica

No Slam Dunk by Mike Lupica

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Book Review of No Slam Dunk by Mike Lupica

This is my first Mike Lupica book, so I was excited to read it! My boys played basketball when they were younger, and I loved watching them play. They loved playing the game itself, but did not like the politics that came with it, so they both lost interest. Now we cheer for our Jazz and enjoy basketball from the couch. I miss watching my boys play basketball, but now I get to watch them mountain bike, and that’s fun too! Check out my review of No Slam Dunk by Mike Lupica.

Blurb:

“Wes’ father always told him that there was only one ball in basketball. That you had to know when to take it yourself and when to give it up, that finding the right balance was key. So at every practice and game, Wes tries his best to be a good basketball player and, above all, a good teammate.

As the season kicks off, Wes finds that not everyone on his team has the same idea. All-star player and the Hawks’ point guard, Danila “Dinero” Rey seems determined to hold the spotlight—and the ball—even if it means costing his team the game. If Wes is to lead the Hawks to the playoffs, he’ll need to find new ways to dish out an assist—even if it means his most important one comes off the court.

In No Slam Dunk, #1 New York Times bestseller Mike Lupica demonstrates once again that there is no children’s sports novelist today who can match his ability to weave a story of fivid sports action and heartfelt emotion. A touch story about teamwork and family, of selfishness and generosity, No Slam Dunk shows that even in the face of adversity, giving your best is the surest way to victory.”

My Book Review:

I liked this book a lot! I think the YA boys will love it! The book is very well written. The characters are well developed, stay true to themselves throughout the book, and each have their own characteristics. They are relatable and make you feel like you’re great friends. Dinero is a little harder to relate to at first, but he comes around. I think the same thing with Wes’ dad. He seems a little rough around the edges at first, but as the story progresses, you begin to see him in a different light. The story is good, but the characters make the book.

Most sports movies or books I’ve read or seen seem to have the same story line. Poor team, struggles, has some hardship, overcomes, and wins it all. I loved how there was more to the story than just winning the championship. It wasn’t even about the sport as much as it was about the relationships. The relationship between Wes and his dad; between Wes and Dinero; between Dinero and his dad; the relationship Wes has with Mr. Correa. The older I get, the more I realize how important relationships are in life; I love that relationships, hard work, patience, and never giving up are such prominent themes in this book.

I may not be the biggest sports enthusiast, but I enjoyed this book. It has some very valuable lessons in it, and I think the YA boys will love it. As a mom and a teacher, I love it when there are books to fit every child’s interest. This book will be especially great for those YA boys who love sports.

Content Rating PG+Content Rating: PG+ (There isn’t any profanity or “intimacy.” There isn’t really any violence except for a description of a scene in Afghanistan during the war. There’s also a character that drinks, and there’s some discussion about that.)

Age Recommendation: YA+

My Rating: 3.5/5

3.5 Star Rating

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

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/3emo9eh

 

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Six Sisters’ Stuff: Healthy Eats Cookbook

Six Sisters' Stuff Healthy Eats Cookbook

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Book Review of Six Sisters' Stuff Healthy Eats Cookbook

Over the years I have reviewed several of the Six Sisters’ Stuff cookbooks. Consequently, I have tried many of their recipes. Some of those recipes are new family favorites—can you say lunch lady peanut butter bars? Yummm!  Now fast forward to this spring…and quarantine. What came with that? Oh, lots and lots of eating. Please tell me I wasn’t the only one! Now fast forward to today…what do I now need? Oh, yeah. Healthy things to eat. I need some good, new, healthy recipes so I stop eating cookies and brownies all.day.long. And, in steps the Six Sisters’ Stuff new cookbook: Healthy Eats. Six Sisters’ Stuff to the rescue!

Blurb:

When it comes to preparing meals, choosing between healthy and convenient can be a real struggle. Until now.

 

Popular bloggers and cookbook authors Six Sisters’ Stuff have gathered more than 100 of their top most-requested healthy recipes that combine their fast-and-easy cooking style with fresh ingredients for delicious and family-friendly meals. Whether you are serving a full three-course meal, grabbing a quick afternoon snack, or need to take a dish to a potluck, there is a recipe here that will fit your lifestyle and busy schedule as well as satisfy your taste buds.

 

With each recipe coming in at under 500 calories, this cookbook offers a great place to start for people who are looking to lose weight, who would like to prepare meals using more natural foods, or who are simply working to maintain a more balanced lifestyle.

 

With Healthy Eats with Six Sisters’ Stuff, it’s never been easier to provide healthy snacks and meals for on-the-go families.”

My Book Review:

With six people to feed, two being teenage boys, I need some good, easy, inexpensive, and healthy recipes. They need to be kid-friendly, too, because I have a VERY picky eater! We’ve tried a few recipes out of this cookbook, and so far so good!

We tried the Scrambled-Egg Breakfast Muffins, and they were delicious! Even my picky eater loved them…of course, she was the one that made them! I liked that I had all the ingredients for these as well. We took out the spinach and the mushrooms because my family doesn’t like them, but I like that they’re versatile enough to personalize them.

We also tried the No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies. They tasted like pretty much every other no-bake cookie I’ve had, but I did like the addition of peanut butter in them.

Another recipe we tried was the Easy Banana Cookies. Unfortunately, they were not our favorite. There isn’t any flour in them, and the texture suffered, which was why I didn’t like them. However, you may love them! The Dark-Chocolate Zucchini Cake felt the same way. It looks really good in the picture, but we didn’t love them either.

The Easy Marinated Pork Chops look delicious, as does the Lemon-Garlic Salmon. I can’t wait to try the Parmesan Crusted Asparagus and the Cheesy Zucchini Sticks.

I’m so glad to have more healthy options for my family, especially with all of the veggies I have from my garden. It’s going to be fun trying more of these recipes. If you’re looking for some healthier options for your family, check out the Healthy Eats  cookbook from Six Sisters’ Stuff.

Content Rating GContent Rating: G 

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.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/3e8WiOC

 

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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

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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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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

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

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

The Wish and the Peacock by Wendy S. Swore

The Wish and the Peacock by Wendy S. Swore

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

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

Blurb:

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

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

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

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

My Book Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

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

 

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

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

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

Book Review of Promised by Leah Garriott

Promised by Leah Garriott

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Book Review of Promised by Leah Garriott

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

Blurb:

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

Warwickshire, England, 1812

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

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

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

My Book Review:

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

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

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

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

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

Age Recommendation: YA+

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

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

 

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

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

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