Return to Robinson Island by TJ Hoisington

Return to Robinson Island by TJ Hoisington

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Book Review of Return to Robinson Island by TJ Hoisington

Remember when I read The Swiss Family Robinson last July? In my review I said that I had never read it before. Well, I hadn’t. But, what prompted me to read it right then? In July 2020? I read it because I had received an email from the author of this book requesting a review. You can’t really read the sequel without reading the original, right? Maybe some people can, but you know me…I had to read the original first! When TJ Hoisington sent me a message requesting a review, I was surprised and a little star-struck. He’s kind of famous. He’s a public speaker, and I listen to his podcast, Unleash Your Greatness Within. He’s also written a few other books. I hope you enjoy my review of Return to Robinson Island by TJ Hoisington.

Blurb (From goodreads.com):

“Return to Robinson Island is an entertaining adventure story that has a thread of romance weaved throughout. It takes place fifteen years after the Robinson Family’s famous shipwreck on a remote island in the East Indies. The story highlights Ernest Robinson, who is now twenty-seven years old, engaged to be married, and is a 1st Lieutenant in the British Royal Navy. Ernest has distinguished himself as a fearless fighter, respected leader, God-fearing, and loyal friend. However, his loyalty is tested when his commanding officer, Captain Charlie, is court-martialed on war crimes and Ernest has no choice but to tell the truth – even if his testimony sends his former Captain to prison.


When reports reach England that a vast treasure trove has been found on Robinson Island, Ernest and his family find themselves in mortal danger when Captain Charlie vows to retrieve the treasure for himself and wreak revenge on the entire Robinson family. 

Will the Robinson Family survive the attack? Will Ernest ever see his fiancée again? One thing is certain; they won’t give up the island – or their lives – without a fight!”

My Book Review:

Wow! What an adventure! When I read a sequel, especially a sequel that is written by a different author than the original book, I worry. I worry because I have read some terrible sequels. Thankfully, this book does not fit into that category. This is a great sequel! I feel like Hoisington did a good job continuing with the feeling and intent of the original book.

This book is well written. The story flowed well and was easy to follow. I liked Hoisington’s writing style and felt like he did a good job mimicking the writing style in the first book. The characters are well developed, and the new characters fit in well with the story. One thing that impressed me was that the characters stayed true to themselves throughout, and that is difficult to do when you didn’t write the original book. Hoisington has a knack with descriptions. When you’re reading you feel like you are right there in the story because of the great descriptive words he uses.

With that, Hoisington also uses some great vocabulary words, and I love that! I’ve noticed over the past few years that vocabulary has tended to get easier and easier in many of the books I’ve read, especially YA and MG books. I’m glad that some authors still take the time to craft the language in their sentences and use more difficult words.

This story is also complex, with more than one story line. I like the complexity it adds, and I like how the story lines weave together in the end. Another thing I liked was the importance this book puts on relationships, especially families. It’s easy to get into a story, and the plot line, and forget about the relationships. Hoisington does a great job of putting an importance on the people and how they relate to each other and work together.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I think Johann David Wyss would be very happy with this sequel to his book! A little teaser here…Hoisington wrote another book in The Swiss Family Robinson series. It follows this book, Return to Robinson Island. It’s called Swiss Family Robinson: Secret Discovery. I’ll be reviewing it sometime (I haven’t read it quite yet…). So look forward to that!

Content Rating PG-13Content Rating: PG-13 (There are a few profane words, but there isn’t any “intimacy” except for brief kissing. However, there is quite a bit of violence, and some of it is a bit graphic. Many characters die, and not in nice ways.)

Age Recommendation: 14+

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/2ZFVlcc

 

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The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss Warship Poseidon by Peter Greene Ragesong Awakening (Book #1) by J.R. Simmons
 
 
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The Lost Wonderland Diaries by J. Scott Savage

The Lost Wonderland Diaries by J Scott Savage

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Book Review of The Lost Wonderland Diaries by J. Scott Savage

Lost diaries? What?!?! There’s more Wonderland? More adventure, more crazy potions, more interesting characters, and more Queen of Hearts? Sweet! Sign me up! These were my thoughts when I heard that J. Scott Savage had a new book coming out called The Lost Wonderland Diaries. I’ve read many of Savage’s books and have enjoyed them! He has such a fun imagination! To be honest, I haven’t ever read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I know, right?? I don’t know how I haven’t read it. I have watched the Disney cartoon many times, though, so I do have some knowledge of the story. In any case, I’ve now read the new adventure from Wonderland—keep reading to find out what I thought.

Blurb:

Something monstrous wants to exit Wonderland and enter the real world.

Lewis Carroll, author of the classic book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, secretly recorded the true story of his actual travels to Wonderland in four journals which have been lost to the world . . . until now.

Celia and Tyrus discover the legendary Lost Diaries of Wonderland and fall into a portal that pulls them into the same fantasy world as the White Rabbit and the Mad Hatter. However, Wonderland has vastly changed. Some of the characters that Tyrus remembers from the book have been transformed into angry monsters.

Helped by the Cheshire Cat and a new character, Sylvan, a young rabbit, Celia and Tyrus desperately work to solve puzzles and riddles, looking for a way out of Wonderland. But the danger increases when the Queen of Hearts begins hunting them, believing the two young visitors hold the key to opening multiple portals to multiple worlds, and she will stop at nothing to capture them.

Will the crazed creatures of Wonderland escape into the real world? Can Celia and Tyrus stop them and save both worlds? Or will they be trapped in Wonderland forever?”
 

My Book Review:

What a fun adventure! J. Scott Savage has managed to bring Wonderland back to life for a new generation of readers! This book has many of the characters we all love and are familiar with. To make it even more fun and imaginative, Savage introduces a few new characters. Meet our new friends Celia and Tyrus. Celia recently moved to the area when her mother took a job as the head librarian of the local library. Celia hangs out at the library a lot because her mom works there, but she does not enjoy reading. Celia is dyslexic and finds it difficult to read. She loves math, though!

Tyrus LOVES reading! He hangs out at the library all summer because he wants to. Crazy kid! J/K…that would describe me perfectly. Tyrus has also just moved to the area and he, like Celia, will be attending a new school in the fall. They are both super nervous about attending a new school. At first, Celia doesn’t even want to be friends with Tyrus because she finds his reading habits a bit annoying. That was before they both started hearing voices in the library calling for help…

Haha! Yes! That is how this new adventure begins. As I stated previously, J. Scott Savage has quite the imagination! This book is well written. It’s easy to read and understand, flows well, and grabs your attention from the beginning. The characters are well developed. I love the variety of the characters. There are super cute and fluffy characters, crazy characters, scary characters, and characters that can be all of the above! Many characters have changed (for the worse) since Alice’s story came out, and that puzzles Celia and Tyrus.

One of the things I really enjoyed about this book were the puzzles that Celia and Tyrus had to figure out in order to progress in their journey. I think it’s a fun addition because it makes you think right along with the characters. Another thing I enjoyed about the book was that it highlighted dyslexia. As a teacher, I see the struggle that children with dyslexia have, and I think it’s a disability that no one really talks about. It’s a disability that is easy to forget about, but it makes it so hard for these kids to read and learn. Seeing a character with dyslexia struggle but find ways to thrive will be so beneficial for many children. I applaud J. Scott Savage for highlighting this. I hope there will be an audio version of the book so the children who suffer from dyslexia will be able to enjoy this book too!

Content Rating PGContent Rating: PG (There’s no profanity or “intimacy” in this book. There is some minor violence.)

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/3mrpw0D

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Mysteries of Cove Fires of Invention by J. Scott Savage Mysteries of Cove Gears of Revolution Book Two by J Scott Savage Farworld Water Book One by J Scott Savage
 
 
 

Brass Carriages & Glass Hearts by Nancy Campbell Allen

Brass Carriages and Glass Hearts by Nancy Campbell Allen

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Book Review of Brass Carriages and Glass Hearts by Nancy Campbell Allen

I’m loving the steampunk romances! Brass Carriages and Glass Hearts is the next installment of Nancy Campbell Allen’s steampunk fairytale re-tellings. I may have been a bit apprehensive at first, but these books have won me over in a big way! Allen has retold Rapunzel, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, and now Cinderella. If you do not know what steampunk is, you’re missing out! Think Victorian times with supercool tech. Oh yes! They may live during the Victorian Era, but they have floating air ships, tablets, carriages that drive themselves, transcribers (think early cell phones), and so much more. I love the creativity of the technology in these books!

Blurb:

A steampunk retelling of Cinderella.


Emmeline O’Shea is determined to save the world—single-handedly, if necessary. A strong voice for societal reform, she is the natural choice to deliver a key speech at the end of the International Shifter Rights Organization’s week-long Summit in Scotland.

But when a death threat arrives at Emme’s home, she is immediately placed into protective custody, watched over by none other than her personal nemesis, Detective-Inspector Oliver Reed. The two have crossed paths many times, with disastrous results, but now they will have to work together in order to reach the Summit before midnight of the last day in order to ensure legislation is passed to protect the Shifter community.

As unseen enemies close in around Emme and Oliver, they struggle to reach Edinburgh by any means necessary, only to find Emme’s vindictive stepsister, Oliver’s vampire brother, and a dangerous political minefield awaiting them in Scotland.

Even more difficult is their own refusal to admit that the fiery animosity that once burned between them might be turning into the heat of romantic passion. Could a straitlaced policeman determined to uphold the law and an outspoken activist willing to break the rules ever find true love? Or will all their dreams shatter like glass when the clock strikes midnight?”

My Book Review:

I read this book at a time when the news was filled with images of protests and riots in many cities across the United States of America. I must admit that I was a bit weary when this book began with the main character Emme participating in a riot and being arrested. Emme acts as the president of the London chapter of the Shifter Rights Organization, and she fights to repeal the Predatory Shifter Extermination Act. Emme is a social justice advocate for Shifters in the community.

As I stated, I read this at a difficult time in our country, and let’s just say I wasn’t too pleased to find it in my entertainment as well. However, I know Allen wrote this long before the events that transpired in real-life, and it was a crazy coincidence. Once I got over that and got into the story, I couldn’t put it down!

The characters in Allen’s stories always bring the story to life, and this book was no different. Emme is bigger than life. She may be short and petit, but her personality is a force to be reckoned with! Emme doesn’t put up with anything, especially when it comes to her nemesis, Detective-Inspector Reed. The two of them have come into contact way too often, each stubbornly doing his and her job—one to bring about a change of the law, and the other to obey the law.

I enjoyed the writing style of this book. It reads well, and I found it engaging, intriguing, and so fun! The banter (good and bad) between Emme and Oliver Reid is seriously the best. Their relationship runs the gamut from rude and mean to soft and intimate, and you never know which it will be. I loved the Cinderella theme intertwined in the storyline, and thought it was just enough to make a comparison, but not too much to be its own story.

If you want a good, solid, strong, female character, Emme is your gal. Her independence and strong will sometimes cause problems, but they have also been known to get her out of some sticky situations. If you want a handsome, intelligent, hard working gentleman, then Oliver is your man. I also liked many of the other characters in the book. Some of the characters surprised me with their actions, while others fell right where I thought they should. I definitely liked the element of surprise with a few of them!

This might be my favorite of the steampunk novels! I have enjoyed all of the previous books, but I loved this one! My only petty complaint is the cover art. In my opinion, neither character on the cover correctly portrays the character he or she plays in the book. Emme, especially, does not look feisty enough. I like the cover; I just don’t feel it correctly portrays the characters.

If you haven’t tried any of the steampunk novels, then now is the time to do it! They can be read as a series, but they are also standalone novels.

Content Rating PG+Content Rating: PG+ (There’s no profanity or “intimacy” in this book, except for some brief kissing. There is some violence, though. Characters are beaten and treated roughly.)

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/2FtHTRI

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Kiss of the Spindle by Nancy Campbell Allen Beauty and Clockwork Beast COVER The Lady in the Coppergate Tower by Nancy Campbell Allen
 
 
 

Pioneering the Vote by Neylan McBaine

Pioneering the Vote by Neylan McBaine

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Book Review of Pioneering the Vote by Neylan McBaine

I dedicate this book review to Mrs. Christie Pitts. In high school I took Mrs. Pitts’ AP American History class. I passed, thank goodness! Mrs. Pitts was an amazing teacher! My senior year, Mrs. Pitts started a new class: Women in History. I was a member of the inaugural class. Yes, it was all girls, and we LOVED it! This class focused on prominent women from American history, along with many women we had not ever heard of. It was so fun to look at history through some different viewpoints and to get to know some amazing women from our history. Mrs. Pitts inspired me to do and be better. She told us stories from her life that showed how far women had come in just her lifetime. I loved that class! It did cause some controversy, though! One day someone put a sign on her door that said, “Feminism 101.” We laughed about it and left it up as a badge of honor for a long time. It wasn’t quite true, but…what do you do?? Anyway, Mrs. Pitts would have loved this book! Here’s my review of Pioneering the Vote by Neylan McBaine.

Blurb:

“In 1895, Utah’s leading suffragist, Emmeline B. Wells, welcomed her friends Susan B. Anthony and Reverend Anna Howard Shaw to a gathering of more than 8,000 people from around the West at the Rocky Mountain Suffrage Convention. They were there to celebrate the suffrage movement’s recent wins and strategize their next triumphs. Pioneering the Vote tells the remarkable, largely unknown story of the early suffrage victories that happened in states and territories in the American West. With the encouragement of the eastern leaders, women from Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, and Idaho came together in a unique moment of friendship and unified purpose to secure the vote for women in America.

Told in alternating fiction and non-fiction narratives, this book offers a rare look at the suffrage movement from the point of view of the women in the western United States. With 2020 marking the centennial of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, join with these remarkable figures from the past to celebrate women’s right to vote.”

My Book Review:

I know I’m a day off (oops!) the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but life happened yesterday and I didn’t get my review posted. Yes! The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified by the people of Tennessee on August 18, 1920. Tennessee was the 36th, and final, state to ratify the amendment. The 19th Amendment gave women in the United States the right to vote.

Unfortunately, women of color in the United States still had many barriers to their enfranchisement. It wouldn’t be until many years later that women of color, Native American women, or women of Asian descent were able to vote. Even though many had been given the right to vote many years previous, there were places around the country that placed barriers in the way of their voting.

I’ve lived in Utah my whole life. I’ve lived in several different places around Utah, but always in Utah. I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I know the history of the Church. I thought I knew my state history quite well; I didn’t know this history. How had I never heard of these women? Utah tried many times to gain statehood and was unfortunately turned down because of polygamy. (FYI: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has not practiced polygamy in a VERY long time. The practice was discontinued in 1890.) In an effort to overcome that, Utah enfranchised its women. On February 12, 1870. Yes! Utah women voted for 17 years! Then, in 1887 they were disenfranchised.

I could go on and on! This book details the Rocky Mountain Suffrage Conference that was held in Salt Lake City, UT in 1895. Susan B. Anthony and the Reverend Anna Shaw attended, along with other prominent women suffragist activists of the day. The main point of the conference was to celebrate the vote to keep women’s enfranchisement in the Utah constitution, and to decide how to move forward to help other states around the nation achieve the same thing.

This book is very well researched and well written. There is some fiction in dialogues and such, but Ms. McBaine used diaries and newspaper articles to try and make it as accurate as possible. Many of the speeches that appear in the book were taken verbatim, as they were given at the conference. I didn’t know Susan B. Anthony came to Utah, or that she was good friends with Emmeline B. Wells. I didn’t even realize that Utah was the first, then really the third state to allow women the vote in their constitutions.

I learned so much reading this book, and I loved it! It focuses a lot on Utah, but also discusses the history of Wyoming and Colorado (the first and second states to allow women to vote and to guarantee it in their constitutions). The book goes on to talk about Idaho and California, and some of their struggles with women’s enfranchisement as well.

I know things are not perfect in our country; I know there are always things we can do to improve and make things better for each of our citizens. However, I am so thankful for this country. I’m thankful for the freedoms we enjoy, and I’m grateful for all those who have come before and worked tirelessly to make things better for me today. What an honor and privilege it is to be able to study the candidates in this upcoming election, and to be able to vote for the person I think will do the best job of running our country. What am I going to do to honor the women who have come before? What am I going to do to recognize and celebrate this 100th anniversary of the passing of the 19th Amendment? I am going to VOTE in November, and I challenge you to do the same. Don’t get caught up in the emotions and the rhetoric. Study the candidates. Read their platforms, look at their histories, and choose the person that best fits what you want in a leader. Do not take this privilege for granted.

I highly recommend Pioneering the Vote by Neylan McBaine, especially as we celebrate the momentous occasion of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.

Content Rating PGRating: PG (There’s no profanity, violence, or “intimacy” in this book.)

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/3aEzVjY

 

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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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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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Glow Kids by Nicholas Kardaras, Ph.D.

Glow Kids by Nicholas Kardaras, Ph.D.

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Book Review of Glow Kids by Nicholas Kardaras, Ph.D.

As a mother and a teacher I have seen many children who seem very dependent on technology. It’s interesting because when I get them in school they don’t know how to format a spreadsheet or put together a Google Slide presentation, but they can find memes and gifs and games no problem. I have witnessed with my own self and my children how reliant we can be on technology to cope with boredom and to numb out the feelings. When I heard about this book I knew I had to read it. The information in this book shocked and terrified me. It’s so important. What book am I discussing today? Glow Kids by Nicholas Kardaras, Ph.D.

Blurb:

“We’ve all seen them: kids hypnotically staring at glowing screens in restaurants, in playgrounds and in friends’ houses―and the numbers are growing. Like a virtual scourge, the illuminated glowing faces―the Glow Kids―are multiplying. But at what cost? Is this just a harmless indulgence or fad like some sort of digital hula-hoop? Some say that glowing screens might even be good for kids―a form of interactive educational tool.

Don’t believe it.

In Glow Kids, Dr. Nicholas Kardaras will examine how technology―more specifically, age-inappropriate screen tech, with all of its glowing ubiquity―has profoundly affected the brains of an entire generation. Brain imaging research is showing that stimulating glowing screens are as dopaminergic (dopamine activating) to the brain’s pleasure center as sex. And a growing mountain of clinical research correlates screen tech with disorders like ADHD, addiction, anxiety, depression, increased aggression, and even psychosis. Most shocking of all, recent brain imaging studies conclusively show that excessive screen exposure can neurologically damage a young person’s developing brain in the same way that cocaine addiction can.

Kardaras will dive into the sociological, psychological, cultural, and economic factors involved in the global tech epidemic with one major goal: to explore the effect all of our wonderful shiny new technology is having on kids. Glow Kids also includes an opt-out letter and a “quiz” for parents in the back of the book.”

My Book Review:

To say that this book shocked me is definitely an understatement. I first heard about it from a man named Collin Kartchner. He came and spoke to my school district about the harmful effects of cell phones and social media to children. I now follow him on Facebook and Instagram, and he recommended this book. He said after he read the first chapter he and his family got rid of the smart phones. After hearing that, I knew I needed to read it.

My husband and I have always been quite strict with our kids and technology. We did get our older boys smart phones the summer before they entered high school. My two girls (9th and 7th) do not have smart phones. I collect the phones each night, and they are locked with an app blocker, so nothing can be accessed on the phone. They never have access to the internet on their phones. None of them have social media, and I also turn off the wi-fi at night. They may not have Snap Chat or Tik Tok. You see, we were quite strict to begin with. Then I read this book.

Oh boy! Wow. To say that I was shocked when I read this book would be an understatement. I knew screen addiction could be bad, but I had no idea how bad it could really be. Dr. Kardaras cites study after study that backs up his claims. Video game creators write addiction codes into their games so children become addicted, and the dopamine the children receive while playing these games mimics the dopamine rush from a drug addiction. Yeah, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

This book is well written. It reads well, and isn’t too full of jargon or scientific language. Its message comes across loud and clear. There are some reviews that suggest Dr. Kardaras is fearmongering, and I disagree. Yes, some of the examples he uses are extreme, but to me it shows how bad the addiction can get if left untreated. Dr. Kardaras cites studies to back up his research, and also gives anecdotes to give the reader a clear picture of what glow kids are. I always take things with a grain of salt anyway; each person is different and will react to situations and stimuli differently.

After I read this book I added even more time restrictions to my children, and I am more strict about no phones during dinner, family time, parties, etc. At school I changed a lot of things. Prior to reading this book I had my students practice their multiplication facts on a computer program because I thought it would be more fun. After reading this book I went old school and made flashcards (my daughter and I cut out flashcards for hours). My students now practice multiplication with a partner using flashcards. I also stopped using the Chromebooks for frivolous activities. As a teacher I understand that I still need to teach the students to use computers (spreadsheets, word docs, presentations, etc), but I no longer use them for things that can be done without tech.

Well, I did. Then the COVID-19 pandemic ruined all my plans about three weeks after I changed everything up. And we went to using nothing but technology. Ugh. Well, I tried. Going forward, I have no idea what will happen, but I plan to limit tech as much as possible.

If you have children or work with children in any way, you need to read this book. I see toddlers staring at phones now in grocery stores and I want to scream, “NOOOOO!!!” I don’t of course, but I want to. I like that this book has solutions in it, and they are practicable and doable. Here is an example:

A refocusing in education, at home and school, on the essentials of a healthy childhood: strong bonds with caring adults; time for spontaneous, creative lay; a curriculum rich in music and the other arts; reading books aloud; storytelling and poetry; rhythm and movement; cooking, building things, and other handcrafts; and gardening and other hands-on experiences of nature and the physical world. (pg 244)

Here are some of the quotes that stood out the most to me:

What’s more, an ever-increasing amount of clinical research correlates screen tech with psychiatric disorders like ADHD, addiction, anxiety, depression, increased aggression and even psychosis. (pgs 3-4)

…video games for the alienated kid and social media for the cheerleader are both just as addicting as heroin is to a junkie. With every burst of virtual gunfire, every text and tweet, there is a release—a little squirt—of dopamine, just as surely as cocaine tickles our dopamine neurotransmitters. (pg 14)

Dr. Dunckley came to believe that the unnaturally stimulating nature of an electronic screen, regardless of its content, wreaks havoc on the still-developing nervous system and mental health of a child on a variety of levels—cognitive, behavioral and emotional. (pgs 115-116)

Content Rating PG-13+Content Rating: PG-13+ (This book does not have any profanity, but it does discuss some violent/graphic situations, and does talk about “intimacy.”)

Recommendation: 16+

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2O5sRCn

 

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Essentialism by Greg McKeown Does Change Have to be So Hard by Julie Donley, RN The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen R. Covey
 
 

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

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

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

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

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

Blurb:

The final answer to the existence of magic.


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

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

My Book Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

 

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

 

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