Ragesong: Triumphant (Book #5) by J.R. Simmons

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Book Review of Ragesong: Triumphant (Book #5) by J.R. Simmons

I have been waiting for this final book in the Ragesong series for a long time! I was so excited when J.R. Simmons finally emailed me asking me to review it! This is such a fun and unique series. I love the use of music, the characters, and how they can use the music together to accomplish more. Just wait until you read about how Jake, Sam, and Klyle learn to use the Trichord together. What? It’s pretty amazing, I must say! It’s too bad there isn’t a modern-day, actual version of the Trichord. Of course, I guess we couldn’t risk it falling into the wrong hands. I hope you enjoy my book review of Ragesong: Triumphant (Book #5) by J.R. Simmons.

Blurb (from goodreads.com):

 
“Unlikely allies. 
Brutal enemies. 
The power of Ragesong. 

All three unite in this epic conclusion to the thrilling Ragesong saga. 
The Dread King Brael controls nearly all of Fermicia. Only an exiled king and three rogue territories remain free of his dark clutches. With nowhere left to run, King Klyle and his allies, the Dextori Freedom Fighters and the Riders of Southern Reach, engage Brael, his ruthless Elites, and an infinite army in Fermicia’s last stand. 

Klyle’s last hope rests with Jake, Sam, and a mythical artifact that may save them all—if they can find it. As they journey into the snowy fields of the Untamed North, war threatens to engulf the land, and a savage enemy surrounds Jake and Sam on their quest. 

Will Klyle and his fledgling army survive until Jake and Sam return? Will the legendary Trichord save Fermicia, or is the quest a death sentence for them all?”

 

My Book Review:

I have seriously enjoyed this series. I’m so sad it’s coming to an end. Jake, Sam, Klyle, Joraus, and Swyf, have become close friends over the years. I have enjoyed getting to know some new friends along the way as well. Shivarra, Ara, and Buvielio are some of my favorites. The characters are very well developed. They’re realistic and imperfect. They make good choices and poor choices, and learn from their experiences.

This book is also very well written. I like Mr. Simmons’ writing style because it’s easy to read, but it’s not simple. There are complexities in the story line, along with twists that take you for a ride you weren’t expecting. I loved what the Trichord was able to do. The concept is very unique and creative.

Ragesong: Trimphant is the culmination of the story, and it was one of my favorites. It was a bit violent, since it’s a war and all, but I thought it came together very well. A few friends were lost along the way, which is super sad, but I liked the ending. I thought it brought all the loose ends together in a good way. It wasn’t too happy or too sad. Just right.

If you’re ready to get lost in Fermicia and learn all about Ragesong and the powers it has, I highly recommend this series. And of course, this book! You have to see what happens!

Content Rating PG-13Content Rating: PG-13 (There isn’t any profanity or “intimacy.” There is quite a bit of war violence with fighting and characters dying. It can be a bit graphic in spots.)

Recommendation: 13 Years-old and up (YA approved!)

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/2E5nEaQ

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

 
 
 

Lies, Love, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Julie Wright

Lies, Love, and Breakfast at Tiffany's by Julie Wright

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Book Review of Lies, Love, and Breakfast at Tiffany's by Julie Wright

I loved Julie Wright’s previous book Lies Jane Austen Told Me, so I was pretty excited to read this book. The only problem was that I am a huge Jane Austen fan, so the previous book fit me perfectly. I truly (gasp!) don’t know anything about Audrey Hepburn. I have not seen any of her movies, so going into it I hoped I could feel a connection with this book anyway. I needn’t have worried–Ms. Wright has a fun writing style that draws you into the story and makes you feel right at home. The only problem now? Now I really want to watch an Audrey Hepburn movie so I know what everyone is talking about! Anyone want to do an Audrey Hepburn marathon with me?

Blurb:

The Lie

Women in Hollywood are just pretty faces. But Silvia Bradshaw knows that’s a lie, and she’s ready to be treated as an equal and prove her worth as one of Hollywood’s newest film editors.

The Love

She and Ben Mason had worked together as editors before Silvia got her big break, so he’s the perfect person to ask for feedback on her first major film. But even as their friendship begins to blossom into something more, a lawsuit surfaces, jeopardizing both Ben and Silvia’s jobs—as well as their fledgling romance. Audrey Hepburn one said: ‘The most important thing is to enjoy your life—to be happy—it’s all that matters.’ Silvia agrees. Or she used to. It’s one thing to risk her job and her heart, but can she really risk Ben’s too? Does she have the right to make decisions for her own happiness when they affect so many other people?

The Breakfast

With everything to lose, Silvia meets Ben for breakfast at his favorite diner, Tiffany’s, for one last conversation before the credits roll on true love.”

My Book Review:

First off, I love the cover of this book! I love the classic red dress with the gloves and hat—so fun! It’s very Audrey Hepburn-ish. I think. Haha! I had to Google “Audrey Hepburn” because I had no idea. Here’s a pic from IMDB.com:

Audrey Hepburn (IMDB.com)

She is beautiful! Here are a few of the movies she’s known for, and that are mentioned in the book:

   


Silvia is a film editor at a major production company. It turns out that it’s quite the accomplishment for a woman because there aren’t many women film editors out there. She routinely recognizes that she is the only woman in the room. Many of those good ol’ boys still have an antiquated view of women, and it isn’t a good one. They aren’t very accepting of women in their space. She holds her own, though! She works hard and does a very good job. In fact, she does such a good job that she may even be recognized for her work.

Then, one fateful night, a drunk boss and a looming deadline collide. What is she going to do? How will she get the finishing touches on the film ready for the next day’s meeting? I’m not telling. Nope, you’ll need to read it. I don’t want to give anything away. Just suffice it to say that what happens next changes the course of her life. No biggie.

Silvia is such a fun character. She is relatable, personable, real, and likable. She’s a strong female character, which I love. Silvia is not perfect, by any means, and that’s one of the things that makes her such a great character. She can be a little clueless when it comes to recognizing how others feel about her, but she eventually catches on. I love her voice in the book. I don’t know anything about editing movies, but all of that seemed legitimate to me. It was fun watching her growth over the course of the book.

I loved many of the other characters as well. Silvia’s grandma is a darling lady, and I loved her spunkiness. I liked Emma’s character because she reminds me of my bestie. She’d do anything for Silvia, but she also tells her like it is. Walt seems like a genuine gentleman, and I thought it was great when he came into the picture. Ben is well developed, and seems like such a great guy—for most of the book. There were a few times that I wanted to scream at him, but he’s a guy. They’re a little clueless sometimes.

When I had about 45 pages left, I seriously doubted that everything could be figured out by the end of the book. “Ahhhhh!!!! What.Just.Happened? No. What?” Those were just a few of my thoughts. Yep, there’s quite the revelation, and it threw me for a loop, for sure! I didn’t want to believe it, but there it was. Keep reading. That’s my advice. I won’t say anything more…don’t throw the book out the window. Keep reading.

There were a couple of things I noticed that were missed by the editors–they didn’t quite fit, but I have an ARE (Advanced Reader’s Edition), so they should hopefully be fixed in the for sale copy. 

I liked this book a lot! I stayed up too late last night finishing it, but I couldn’t put it down. The characters are well done, relatable, and realistic, and the writing style just draws you in. It’s a fast, entertaining, weekend read. Even though I don’t know anything about Audrey Hepburn, I still enjoyed it.

Lies-and-Love-Blog-Tour

Content Rating PG+Rating: PG+ (There isn’t any profanity or violence. There’s not any “intimacy” except for some kissing. There is scene with a drunk boss.)

Recommendation: YA and up

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2Tt6WXf

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Lies Jane Austen Told Me by Julie Wright  Ashes on the Moor by Sarah M. Eden  Forever and Forever by Josi S. Kilpack
 

 

Wrath of the Dragon King (Book #2) by Brandon Mull

Dragonwatch Wrath of the Dragon King (Book #2) by Brandon Mull

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Book Review of Dragonwatch: Wrath of the Dragon King (Book #2) by Brandon Mull

I reviewed Dragonwatch (Book #1) about a week ago, so I’m super excited to be able to share my book review of Dragonwatch: Wrath of the Dragon King (Book #2) by Brandon Mull with you today! It’s great when you can read book 1 and book 2 within a week of each other because then you don’t forget everything in between! I had to read this book quickly because as soon as it arrived I had three kids fighting over who got to read it next. And they’re all teenagers! That’s the sign of a good book, for sure! All three of them read and loved Fablehaven and have been Brandon Mull fans ever since.

Blurb:

“After a humiliating defeat at the hands of Kendra and Seth, Celebrant, King of Dragons, prepares to unleash his fury and take control of his native preserve. Two of the seven dragon sanctuaries have already fallen. Will Wyrmroost be next?

Armed with secret information from a new ally, Celebrant seeks a talisman that will guarantee victory in the war against the humans. With a cursed castle and traitorous creatures standing in the way, Kendra and Seth must attempt to foil Celebrant’s plan and beat him to his prize.

Will the two young caretakers rally enough support from the creatures of Wyrmroost to quell the uprising and protect the world from draconic dominion? One thing is certain—dragons are deadly foes, and one wrong move could bring swift defeat. It will take more than Kendra, Seth, and their current allies have ever given to endure the wrath of the Dragon King.”

My Book Review:

What’s not to love about two children stepping in as caretakers of one of the biggest and most dangerous dragon preserves in the world? This book has everything: dragons, other exciting creatures, deception, battles, journeys, friends, foes, victories, defeats, and castles. There are some new friends and, unfortunately, some new enemies. There’s action, adventure, and—something I’m excited about—the Tiny Hero is back!

Kendra and Seth get invited to a dinner party at Celebrant’s castle, and suddenly everything they’ve hoped for gets dashed to pieces. One declaration from Celebrant changes everything, and not for the better. How will they rise above the challenge? Will they be able to save themselves and the preserve?

Let me tell you—there are some tense moments in this book! Be prepared! Jump on your griffin and hang on for the ride! As always, Brandon Dorman did an amazing job with the cover art! A flying bunny—what? I love his art, and the kids do too. Yes, we all judge books by their covers (admit it), and judging by this fantastic cover, this book is, well…fantastic!

Brandon Mull does a great job of setting the stage and putting you inside the story. As Kendra and Seth sit at dinner at Skyhold with the other inhabitants of Wyrmroost, you’re right there with them. As they travel through the preserve, you’re right there with them. As they face challenges and their skills are put to the test, you’re right there with them.

He also does a great job with character development. Kendra and Seth are such great characters. They make mistakes, but try their hardest. I love that Tanu is back, and Eve and Calvin are such fun additions to this new series. I also love the talking animals in the Zowali Protectorate. The bear that finds Kendra has a funny dry wit. Doren and Newel are still hilarious, and watching the Somber Knight in action is pretty awesome.

This is such a fun book! I really enjoyed it. It’s fast-paced, full of action and adventure, and has some fun surprises. The characters’ abilities are tested every step of the way, and I love the lessons they learn in the process. I also love some of the new “tech” introduced, like the cloak of innocence and the bow that can shoot 100 arrows at a time. Yep, fun stuff! If you liked Fablehaven or the first Dragonwatch then you will love this book. If you haven’t read them yet, definitely read them before you read this one! And do it quick so you can get to this book quickly!  

Content Rating PG+Content Rating: PG+ (There isn’t any profanity or “intimacy.” There is quite a bit of violence. It isn’t overly graphic, but they’re fighting a war against dragons. Dragons die and other characters die.)

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/2PCvTR5

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Dragonwatch (Book #1) by Brandon Mull fablehaven book #1 by Brandon Mull  caretakers guide to fablehaven
 
 

Book Review of Christmas by Accident by Camron Wright

Christmas by Accident by Camron Wright

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Book Review of Christmas by Accident by Camron Wright

I’m not going to hear the end of this one for awhile! I am a very strict, “No Christmas until after Thanksgiving!” kind of gal. My kids want to listen to Christmas music right now, in October, and I say no. So, when they find out that I just read and am now reviewing a Christmas book, well, yeah, they’re never going to let it go. I know they’re going to think it’s okay to put up the Christmas decorations and start going Christmas-crazy. Ummmm…..yeah no. This is a fun little book, though. It’s not all about Christmas—there’s a love story in there too! Want to know more? Read all about it in my book review of Christmas by Accident by Camron Wright.

Blurb:

“There are no accidents where love—and Christmas—are concerned. Carter is an insurance adjuster whose longing for creative expression spills over sometimes into his accident reports. Abby works for her adoptive father, Uncle Mannie, in the family bookstore, the ReadMore Café. Carter barely tolerates Christmas; Abby loves it. She can’t wait past October to build her favorite display, the annual Christmas book tree stack, which Carter despises.

When an automobile accident throws Carter and Abby together, Uncle Mannie, who is harboring secrets of his own, sees a chance for lasting happiness for his little girl. But there are so many hurdles, and not much time left. Will this Christmas deliver the miracles everyone is hoping for?

Camron Wright holds a master’s degree in writing and public relations. He says he began writing to get out of attending MBA school, and it proved the better decision. He is the author of the award-winning novels Letters for Emily (a Doubleday Book Club selection), The Rent Collector, and The Orphan Keeper.”

My Book Review:

Besides the fact that this is a Christmas book, and it’s October, it’s a cute story. I like the writing style because it’s easy to read. It’s hard to describe, but I would say that it’s laid-back and easy-going. Although there are a few intense moments, you never feel rushed through the story. I like it. He describes things well, and even while you’re reading about a car accident as it’s happening, you kind of feel like it’s happening in slow motion. It’s as if he takes the time to notice details that one would never recognize in such an intense moment, and it slows everything down for the reader.  

I like the characters in the story. They’re all likable and easy to relate to. I think they’re well developed and realistic. Abby is my favorite. If I weren’t a teacher, I think I’d be a librarian or work in a book store. Abby gets to work in a book store (I wish it were real because I’d love to try out their treats!) and loves to read, which makes her my new best friend. She doesn’t seem to engage in girl-drama, which is good. She has her priorities straight. I love the relationship she has with Mannie.

Carter kind of floats through his life. He doesn’t seem to have any motivation or ambition. He’s not happy, but not upset enough to change either. I do think it’s hilarious that Carter embellishes his accident reports and makes them sound like intense novel story lines. It’s fun to watch him grow throughout the story.

This is a fun book. It’s not too Christmassy; it could be read any time of the year, but it would be fun to read at Christmas. It’s a little cheesy in some parts, but not too bad. It’s an easy, fun, entertaining read. I liked the little lesson nuggets thrown in throughout the book: honesty, family, love, forgiveness, being brave and going for it, prayer, and miracles. It does have a touch of faith and prayer in it, but it’s not the main focus.    

Content Rating PG+Content Rating: PG+ (There isn’t any profanity or violence, except a couple of car accidents, and the descriptions aren’t overly graphic. There isn’t any “intimacy” except a couple of brief kisses.)

Recommendation: Young Adult and up

My Rating: 3.5/5

3.5 Star Rating

Christmas By Accident Blog Tour

 

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/2CHyHFx

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

The Rent Collector by Camron Wright The Other Side of the Bridge by Camron Wright  The Evolution of Thomas Hall by Kieth Merrill
 
 

 

Book Review of Dragonwatch by Brandon Mull

Dragonwatch (Book #1) by Brandon Mull

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Book Review of Dragonwatch (Book #1) by Brandon Mull

My kids and I were so excited to hear that Brandon Mull would be writing a break-off series to Fablehaven! As soon as this book came out, we had it in our hands. And they all read it. And they all read it again. “Mom! You need to read Dragonwatch!” “Mom, why haven’t you read it yet?” “Mom, when are you going to read Dragonwatch?” So, here I am, finally getting around to reading it. Just in time because I get to review book #2 very soon! So…drumroll please…I (finally) present my book review of Dragonwatch by Brandon Mull.

Blurb:

 

“In the Hidden Dragon sanctuary of Wyrmroost, Celebrant the Just, King of the Dragons, plots his revenge. He has long seen the sanctuaries as prisons, and he wants nothing more than to overthrow his captors and return the world to the Age of Dragons, when he and his kind reigned without borders. The time has come to break free and reclaim his power.

No other person is capable of stopping Celebrant and his dragon horde. It will take the ancient order of Dragonwatch to save the world from destruction. Long ago, Dragonwatch was a group of wizards, enchantresses, dragon slayers, and others who confined the majority of dragons into sanctuaries. But nearly all of the original Dragonwatch members are gone, and so the wizard Agad reaches out to Grandpa Sorenson for help. As Kendra and Seth confront this new danger, they must draw upon all their skills, talents, and knowledge to battle against forces with superior supernatural powers and breathtaking magical abilities.

How will the epic dragon showdown end? Will dragons overthrow humans and change the world as we know it?”

My Book Review:

I’m so excited to get to spend more time with Seth and Kendra! I have to admit that I really hoped Brandon Mull would write more about them! This adventure is a bit overwhelming for them, but I’m sure they’ll live up to the challenge! I love that Seth is still Seth. He’s curious, mischievous, a boy, and has a difficult time listening to (and following) instructions. Sometimes this works to his benefit, but other times it gets him in big trouble.

Kendra is more relatable because she is more like me: a rule follower. I cringe every time Seth talks or walks or gets an idea. Kendra, on the other hand, reminds me a little too much of me. She can be a little bossy (this for sure doesn’t describe me at all—just so you know), kind of a know-it-all, and she follows the rules with exactness. It’s interesting to see how these qualities benefit her, but they can also sometimes, just sometimes hinder her. I like that she is a strong character, though, and she isn’t afraid to speak her mind. Even if it’s to a big, scary dragon!

There are a few new characters in this book, and my favorite of the new characters is the Tiny Hero. He is awesome. Henrick the alcetaur is also pretty cool. I didn’t even know what an alcetaur was, do you? He’s like a centaur, but he has the body of a moose. There you go, you learned something today! The Somber Knight is…yep, you guessed it—somber!  

This book is so fun! Seth and Kendra have a huge task ahead of them, but they have good attitudes, are willing to work hard, and they are very brave. I like that they need to do it together. They each have a role to play, and they are very good at those roles. I like that they each have time to shine individually as well as together. The book is well written and so much fun. I loved the challenges they faced, and the solutions they came up with.

It does kind of follow the same pattern as the Fablehaven books, but that’s not really a complaint because I liked those a lot. If you enjoyed Fablehaven, you will definitely enjoy Dragonwatch! I highly recommend both series, especially for middle-graders and early YA. Oh yeah, and anyone who loves a fun story! I just have one question: when does book #2 come out? Oh yeah…next week! Stay tuned next week for my review of Dragonwatch book #2!!

Content Rating PG+Content Rating: PG+ (There isn’t any profanity or “intimacy.” There’s not really any violence either. There is an angry dragon, but he doesn’t hurt anyone in this book.)

Age 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/2RbkvsF

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Fablehaven book #1 by Brandon Mull fablehaven book of imagination  caretakers guide to fablehaven
 
 
Featured Image Credit: Goodreads.com

Spotlight on Coding Club by Michelle Schusterman

Spotlight on Coding Club by Michelle Schusterman

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Book Review of Girls Who Code: Spotlight on Coding Club by Michelle Schusterman

I have a 13 year-old daughter that loves coding. She’s taking a creative coding class at school and loves it! So I have been thrilled to be able to review the books in the Girls Who Code series. I’m so glad they’re putting an emphasis on girls and coding. The books, if nothing else, are great at spotlighting some amazing things that coding can do. They make it seem so fun and “cool” (Does anyone even use that word anymore, or am I dating myself here?). These girls are normal, cute girls who play softball, dance karaoke, have real problems, and love to code. They do such fun things with coding! I hope you enjoy my book review of Girls Who Code: Spotlight on Coding Club by Michelle Schusterman.

Blurb:

“Erin knows that she is a star, and this could be her big break. With the talent show coming up at school, she will have the chance to take center stage with a stellar performance and help behind the scenes, too, with the coding that will make it all happen.

But Erin has a secret: She has anxiety. And when things start piling up at home and school, she has a harder time pretending that everything is okay. Her friends from coding club have always been there for her in the past, but she has never told them what is really going on. With the spotlight on coding club and more pressure on the team than ever before, will this be their final blow?”

My Book Review:

This is a really cute book. I seriously love how fun and awesome they make coding sound! And they also make it sound fairly easy. I mean, if they can do such fun stuff in junior high, then it must not be too hard, right? I don’t know coding at all. At all. I know as a blogger I shouldn’t admit that, but it’s true! So I like that it makes coding a little more accessible in my mind. I think it will have the same effect on the YA girls reading this book.

The book is well written. I like the writing style and the character development. Erin, especially, is well developed and realistic. She thinks things I know I thought way back in junior high. I like how realistic she is. She definitely has her struggles, and I think that’s great for the girls who will be reading this to see. I especially like the focus on anxiety.

Over the past year and a half I have come to know a lot about anxiety in teenagers, and I know it’s a lot more common than most people think it is.  It’s high past time that we talk about it and get it out in the open. Maybe a YA girl reading this book, who has anxiety, will seek help when she sees Erin getting help. Or maybe she’ll at least gain the confidence to talk to her parents about it. I really liked that side story of the book because it is so pertinent to these kids.

The story is realistic with a school-wide talent show. I think it’s a fun back drop to talk about amazing things that coding can do. I loved how all the technology came together, and I could totally see a high school coding class putting something like this together. What a great learning experience for the girls in the coding club! I love how they all put their personal touch on everything.

This is such a fun series, and I am glad there is a focus on girls and technology. I think a lot of girls will benefit from this book and series. Hopefully it will spark an interest in coding in some more girls!  

Content Rating PG-13Content Rating: PG-13 (There are a couple of places the girls say, “Ohmygod,” which is a swear word in some homes. There is a homosexual character, and it is briefly discussed.)

Recommendation: YA and up

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/2RMSecX

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

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

Book Review of Squint by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown

Squint by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown

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Book Review of Squint by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown

I have worn glasses since second grade, and contacts since seventh grade. Pretty much, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t need glasses to see. I’ve never been made fun of or teased because of my glasses, thankfully, but the cover of this book totally had me curious! I loved Mustaches For Maddie, so when I saw that Squint was written by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown I knew I needed to read it. And I’m so glad I did. They have become quite the duo!

Blurb:

“Flint loves to draw. In fact, he’s furiously trying to finish his comic book so he can be the youngest winner of the ‘Find a Comic Star’ contest. He’s also rushing to finish because he has keratoconus—an eye disease that could eventually make him blind.

McKell is the new girl at school and immediately hangs with the popular kids. Except McKell’s not a fan of the way her friends treat this boy they call ‘Squint.’ He seems nice and really talented. He draws awesome pictures of superheroes. McKell wants to get to know him, but is it worth the risk? What if her friends catch her hanging with the kid who squints all the time?

McKell has a hidden talent of her own but doesn’t share it for fear of being judged. Her terminally ill brother, Danny, challenges McKell to share her love of poetry and songwriting. Flint seems like someone she could trust. Someone who would never laugh at her. Someone who is as good and brave as the superhero in Flint’s comic book.

Squint is the inspiring story of two new friends dealing with their own challenges, who learn to trust each other, believe in themselves, and begin to truly see what matters most.”

My Book Review:

What a great book! As I stated above, I love the way that Chad Morris and Shelly Brown write together. The voice in their stories just draws you in. It’s so real. It is full of emotion, expectations, and energy. It’s easy to read and understand, and yet it has an underlying depth to it. Although it’s not all rainbows and unicorns, it has such a positive feeling to it. The voice fits the characters and situations in the book perfectly.

This book feels similar to Wonder by R.J. Palacio. There are some similarities there as well. Flint, the main character, has a disability and the kids at school make fun of him, tease him, and stay away from him. Then someone is brave enough to look past the thick glasses and quirky habits. McKell wants to fit in with the popular crowd, but she doesn’t like how they treat Flint, also known as Squint. Her brother gives her these challenges to do, and since she’s afraid that the popular crowd will make fun of her for doing them, she asks Squint to accompany and help her.

Squint is not used to people actually paying attention to him and being nice to him. At first he doesn’t trust McKell because he expects it all to be a prank. But then it’s not. She genuinely wants to be with him. Now, she may still want to also be a part of the popular gang, but she makes it clear to Squint that she doesn’t like how they treat him. She’s nice, caring, talented, friendly, and kind. She has the ability to look past the glasses and quirks to find the real Flint.

Flint is also a great character. He used to be normal like everyone else. He played football, had friends, and could see perfectly. Then one day he began losing his eyesight. The diagnosis was keratoconus. It’s an eye disease. This is how Flint explains it in the book:

“It’s called keratoconus,” I said. “It’s not like super rare or anything. There may even be someone else in the school with it, but mine is pretty bad. Well, really bad. My corneas are getting thinner and thinner, and that makes my eyes bulge. It’s like the windshield of my eye to too weak to hold its shape ball…It makes everything look a bit like a funhouse mirror.”

I won’t complain about my poor eyesight after reading about Flint’s disease!

I think it’s great how Chad Morris and Shelly Brown use their books to bring attention to different situations in people’s lives. The more we talk, the more we realize how similar we are. The more books kids can read about how being different is ok, the better. If kids can read more books on how to treat people, the better off we’ll all be. We like to think we’re different. We’re unique, for sure. But we’re the same. We all want to fit in, have friends, be loved, and not be made fun of or teased. I think everyone wants to feel safe and acknowledged. It’s the relationships and the connections that matter.

I love books that teach such valuable lessons in such a great way. It’s a great reminder for readers of all ages that how we treat people is important. Everyone has a story. Everyone is fighting a battle. Some battles are front and center while others are more hidden. Learning to look past differences and see the real person behind the façade is a skill we can all improve in. Learning to accept and love despite differences is also something needed today. Also, there are always two sides to every story. Many times we get caught up in our own thoughts and feelings, and forget that others are involved, and they have feelings too. Thank you Chad and Shelly for writing stories that inspire, teach, and uplift!  

Content Rating PGRating: PG (It’s clean, but there is some minor violence with fights, mean words, and bullies.)

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

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/2y9OCsu

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

mustaches for maddie Wonder by R.J. Palacio  the hundred dresses
 

Women of the Blue and Gray by Marianne Monson

Women of the Blue and Gray by Marianne Monson

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Book Review of Women of the Blue & Gray by Marianne Monson

When I was in high school, I took AP history from an amazing teacher. Her name was Kristie Pitts. Because of Mrs. Pitts, I passed the AP history test. Not only did she teach me about American history, she served as an example of an amazing woman. Mrs. Pitts was intelligent, engaging, compassionate, and caring. After I took her AP history class, she opened a new class. I am proud to say that I attended the very first Women in History class at my high school. It was an amazing class! We spent hours reading about the accomplishments of women in American history. There were women I had never heard of that accomplished so much. I loved that class, and I still look back at that time with fondness. I wish we had had this book back then! It would have been a great addition to the class. If you’re out there, Mrs. Pitts, this book review of Women of the Blue & Gray by Marianne Monson is dedicated to you!

Blurb:

“Hidden amongst the photographs, uniforms, revolvers, and war medals of the Civil War are the remarkable stories of some of the most unlikely heroes—women.

North, South, black, white, Native American, immigrant—the women in these micro-drama biographies are wives, mothers, sisters, and friends whose purposes ranged from supporting husbands and sons during wartime to counseling President Lincoln on strategy, from tending to the wounded on the battlefield to spiriting away slaves through the Underground Railroad, from donning a uniform and fighting unrecognized alongside the men to working as spies for either side.

This book brings to light the incredible stories of women from the Civil War that remain relevant to our nation today. Each woman’s experience helps us see a truer, fuller, richer version of what really happened in the country during this time period.”

My Book Review:

I have always loved learning about history, especially American history. The Revolutionary War is my favorite, but I also enjoy learning about the Civil War. I haven’t ever read a history book devoted solely to the contributions of the women of that era. When I heard about this book from the publicist, I immediately jumped in. Yes, of course I’ll review it!

I’m so glad I did. It is such a good book! I read it almost all in one day because I couldn’t put it down. I found it fascinating to learn about each of the women portrayed in the book. Although some women helped in conspicuous ways, others served in the background, never gaining recognition for her service. Some women worked as nurses and tended to the wounded, and others sacrificed their homes to the armies. I found it fascinating that women disguised themselves as men and fought on the front lines.

This book is very well written. The stories are engaging, and the women come to life on the page. There are some well-known women like Harriet Tubman and Clara Barton, and then there are lesser-known women like Anna Ella Carroll or Cornelia Peake McDonald. I love that women of all backgrounds, colors, and sides are discussed. It doesn’t matter whether the woman is from the North or the South, is black or white, or is Native or an immigrant, each played an important role.

I learned so much from this book! It was fun, and yet sobering, to look into the lives of each of these women. The amount of research Ms. Monson must have done is staggering. This book is well thought-out, well researched, and well written. Women of all kinds are highlighted, and there’s no judgment regarding her viewpoints.

I highly recommend this book for all junior high and high school American history classes, and for personal libraries. It’s important to remember the past so we don’t repeat it. And it’s important to hear voices from all sides. I loved hearing from these women! I’ll end with a quote from Ms. Monson because I think it sums everything up quite nicely:

…people on every side often need, more than anything else, an opportunity to be heard. They need to be heard even if they don’t look like us, think like us, and especially if they disagree with us. They particularly need to be heard if the dominant discourse tends to ignore their voices.

Sometimes, I think one of the most important acts of kindness we can do for one another is to listen—really listen—to each other’s stories.      

Content Rating PG-13Rating: PG-13 (No profanity and no “intimacy.” This is a book about the Civil War, so there are stories of atrocities, death, disease, fighting, etc.)

Recommendation: YA and older

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/2nRA9wr

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

1776 by David McCullough Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick  The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
 
 

Book Review of Cash Valley by Ryan K. Nelson

Cash Valley by Ryan K. Nelson

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Book Review of Cash Valley by Ryan K. Nelson

I graduated from Utah State University—Go Aggies!—which is located in beautiful Cache Valley, Utah. It really is beautiful. There are mountains on both sides of the valley with many fields and lots of open space. It has grown significantly, even since I attended school there. My husband and I wish we could have stayed, but there weren’t enough jobs. When Ryan Nelson contacted me earlier this year about reading his book, I had a long list of books I had already scheduled to review. Knowing it was about Cache Valley, though, I couldn’t resist. It’s taken me awhile, but I finally read it. I hope you enjoy my book review of Cash Valley by Ryan K. Nelson!


Utah-State-University-aerial-small  Utah-State-University-Old-Main-vertical-small  

 

Blurb (from Goodreads.com):

 

“When FBI Agent Alex Travis receives an anonymous phone call on a September morning in 1954, with a tip concerning the now cold case of the Cache County Bank robbery, it has his undivided attention. The tip leads Travis to the top of the secluded Green Canyon in Logan, Utah, where a young man named Jack Pepper proceeds to tell a story. It spans the two years from the time of the robbery, when he and his girlfriend, Kate Austin, stumbled upon the crime of the century for the Cache Valley. Travis must decide if he is dealing with the suspects or the victims of one of the largest bank robberies in U.S. history.

To get the answers, it will take one more trip up the canyon, to the entrance of the Spring Hollow Mine, where the daylight ends and the cold dark begins.”

 

My Book Review:

This book hooked me from the beginning. Agent Travis of the FBI receives an anonymous phone call. The caller says he has a tip about the Cache County Bank robbery, which is Travis’ case. The caller doesn’t give any information except to tell him where to meet this mysterious person. Agent Travis is perplexed. Should he trust this caller? Does he need to take back-up or is he ok to go alone? In the end, he decides to go alone.

I like Agent Travis’ character. He seems like a good, hard working, decent guy. His character is well developed and likable. I did think the part in the beginning where he is telling his wife the history of Sardine Canyon (the canyon you drive through to get to Logan from Salt Lake City) was cheesy and unnecessary. When Agent Travis meets Jack, the whole thing is still a bit mysterious, which I liked. As a reader, you don’t know if you should trust Jack or not.

Jack’s character is a bit more mysterious to start off. As you learn his story, you begin to trust him. However, in the back of your mind you’re still wondering if you should trust him or not. I liked how he was written in that way. Then later, when Kate comes into the picture, you start to see more of the full story. I liked how the plot unfolded like that. I also liked Kate a lot. Her character is also well developed, likeable, and realistic.

The whole plot line seemed mostly realistic. There were a couple of parts that I thought were a bit of a stretch, but they made it more exciting to read. I liked how it all came together in the end; everyone kind of ended up where they should have.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I liked reading about the canyons; it made me want to take my kids up there and do some exploring! And if you’re ever up on the USU campus, make sure you get some Aggie ice cream; it’s the best!!

Content Rating PG-13+Rating: PG-13+ (There isn’t any profanity or “intimacy.” There’s some violence, though. It includes murder, an almost-rape, fighting, and the death of at least one character.)

Recommendation: 16 years-old and up

My Rating: 3/5

3 Star Rating

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

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

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

An Echo of Murder by Anne Perry The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown  Twisted Prey by John Sandford
 
 

Book Review of What Kitty Did Next by Carrie Kablean

What Kitty Did Next by Carrie Kablean

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Book Review of What Kitty Did Next by Carrie Kablean

If I could go back in time and live for a week anywhere I wanted, I’d choose Victorian England. Of course, I’d be picky and choose to be a wealthy person. I’d love to walk the sprawling gardens of the grand estates. It’d be amazing to dance at the balls and wear the beautiful gowns. Just for a week, I’d love to write with a quill pen and ride in carriages. What do you think? Where would you go? I love the Jane Austen era, and am so excited about this book! I hope you enjoy my book review of What Kitty Did Next by Carrie Kablean.

Blurb:

England, 1813 – Nineteen-year-old Catherine Bennet lives in the shadow of her two eldest sisters, Elizabeth and Jane, who have both made excellent marriages. No one expects Kitty to amount to anything. Left at home in rural Hertfordshire with her neurotic and nagging mother, and a father who derides her as ‘silly and ignorant’, Kitty is lonely, diffident and at a loss as to how to improve her situation.

When her world unexpectedly expands to London and the Darcy’s magnificent country estate in Derbyshire, she is overjoyed. Keen to impress this new society, and to change her family’s prejudice, Kitty does everything she can to improve her mind and manners – and for the first time feels liked and respected.

However, one fateful night at Pemberley, a series of events and misunderstandings conspire to ruin Kitty’s reputation. Accused of theft – a crime worse almost worse than murder among the Georgian aristocracy – she is sent back home in disgrace. But Kitty has learnt from her new experiences and what she does next will not only surprise herself, but everyone else too.

Based on Jane Austen’s much-loved characters, this is the story of one young woman’s struggle to overcome the obstacles of her time and place and truly find herself.

My Book Review:

Oh, how I love Jane Austen! I know several friends who cannot stand her writing (you know who you are…), but I love it. I love the crafted language. I love the detail in the characters and their descriptions. It may bore some people, but I love that the stories are NOT action-packed. The people are the main focus, and I love how the stories play around the people and their experiences and thoughts.

What does that have to do with today’s book review? Well friends, I think we may have found a book that is as close to a Jane Austen as we’re going to get in today’s world! Today’s books are marked by action. My own kids have been sucked in, much to my chagrin! If it’s not one action scene followed by another, it’s boring. Well, they’ll be bored if they read this book, but I loved it!

The language was very well crafted. I read it on my Kindle and it turned out to be a good thing because of all the definitions I had to look up. My kids asked if I felt stupid needing to look up so many words and I definitely said, “No!” I loved it! They think I’m weird, for sure. I may not be the “cool” or “hip” mom anymore, but that’s ok with me. I’m smarter because of it.

The time Ms. Kablean took to develop the characters showed off. Each of them were well developed, realistic, and unique. Each had his or her own personality that was different from everyone else’s. They had their own voices. And they each had their own journey to take in the story. I loved watching them grow and come into themselves as the story went along.

I’ve read all of Jane Austen’s books, and have loved them. This book comes as close as I think I’ll get to more Jane Austen stories. They may be Carrie Kablean stories, not Jane Austen stories, but the feeling is the same. The crafted language is very similar, and the attention to detail is mighty close. The only thing I didn’t love was the title. It was not my favorite; I think it could have been better. Other than that, I loved this book. I just got caught up in the feeling of the story, the language of the story, and the characters’ lives.

If you like Jane Austen books, and even if you don’t, you’ll enjoy this book. It’s not fast-paced or action-packed. It’s not about the superhero that swoops in to save the day, or the super powers, it’s about life and the people in it. It is about truth, friendship, trust, love, care, concern, honesty, values, and family. It’s about falling in love and having your heart broken, and it’s about picking yourself up, learning from it, and moving forward. Life. I loved it.

Content Rating PGRating: PG (There isn’t any profanity or “intimacy” in this book. There is some brief sibling fighting, along with talk of gambling and stealing. One character does die-you don’t see it, you just hear of it after.)

Recommendation: YA (12-18) and up

My Rating: 4.5/5

4.5 Star Rating

Disclosure: I received 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/2lCwZeW

 

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This book review is dedicated to my good friend Andy who passed away this week after a six year battle with brain cancer. He leaves my dear friend Betsie and their three beautiful daughters behind. He was an amazing guy and will be greatly missed. Love ya Andy!