Wizard For Hire: Apprentice Needed by Obert Skye

Wizard for Hire Apprentice Needed by Obert Skye

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Book Review of Wizard for Hire: Apprentice Needed (Book #2) by Obert Skye

After the cliffhanger ending of Book #1, my house has been waiting and waiting for Book #2. Where did Rin go? Is he ok? Is he ever going to come back? What about Ozzy and Sigi? Are they ok? There are so many unanswered questions from the first book that need to be answered! One of the biggest questions is if Rin is really a wizard or not. I mean, the scene in New Mexico makes you think one way, but you thought the other way the whole rest of the book. Will Book #2 give us the answers we crave? Or will it too end in a cliffhanger? I’m not going to give anything away, but you might find out some of those answers. Maybe? Haha. Just read it already! Or, check out my book review of A Wizard for Hire: Apprentice Needed by Obert Skye.

Blurb:

“Ozzy Toffy’s adventure, which began in Wizard for Hire, continues when one dark and windy night, he gets out of bed, jumps out his window, and walks straight into the ocean. More than ever, Ozzy could really use the services of Rin, the wizard he hired to help find his parents—but Rin is missing, despite Ozzy’s continual attempts to contact him. And Clark, the mechanical bird his father left him, is as peculiar and vain as ever. When a mysterious package arrives, Ozzy and his good friend Sigi are sure that the plane ticket and thumb drive in it are from Rin. Trying to get Clark through security at the airport proves complicated—as most things are with Clark. But when they arrive in New York, they discover that there’s even more adventure in store for them.

Will Rin return and save the day? Can Sigi find a way to trust her delinquent father? Will someone please appreciate Clark the way he’d like to be appreciated? For once?

Wizard for Hire: Apprentice Needed is a story filled with humor and excitement that shows us the magic in everyday things.”

My Book Review:

Book #1 sure ended with a bang, right? Wow—can you say cliffhanger? At my house we have been waiting and waiting for Book #2 to come out so we could see what happens. It’s spring break here, thank goodness, and so I had the time to sit down and read. This book is just as crazy as the first one! Things are happening and neither Ozzy nor Sigi understand what that means. Then one day they receive a package, and it sets off a series of events that they will never forget. Buckle those seat belts and get ready for an adventure!

I like the writing style of this book. It’s fast-paced, full of action, and full of mystery. Yep, you’re still wondering! Even after the events in New Mexico, you’re still wondering if Rin is really a wizard or not. Is he? Hmmm…no. Well…yes, I think he is. Ummm…no. No way. Haha! That’s a good way to keep your readers reading…make them go crazy wondering. And then to make it worse, Ozzy starts doing some crazy and dangerous things—unconsciously!

Obert Skye has a fun, witty writing style. He really likes to use figurative language! This is the first paragraph of chapter one:

The day had departed, dashing off like a frightened child as the first slender fingers of dusk gripped the sky. In its absence, darkness arrived at 1221 Ocean View Drive. Like a large visitor whom nobody had invited, the inkiness came early and in force, its arms filled with fatigue and exhaustion. It sat down on everything and moaned like an old man with tired legs and no intention of getting back up anytime soon.

English teachers unite! In one paragraph you have personification and several similes. Not every paragraph is like this, but many of them are, and I love it. I don’t think enough authors take the time to craft the language of their books. It’s refreshing.

The characters are well developed and realistic. Ozzy, Sigi, and Clark are all great characters. As a reader, you feel like you’re one of them. You feel like you’re there with them and experiencing things with them. Rin is hilarious, and I love all his words of wisdom. My favorite is when Ozzy and Sigi are trying to leave meaningful messages on his phone. I’m going to start doing this, I think. You may only leave a message if you leave an inspirational quote with it. My kids (and husband) would get so irritated!

This book answers a few questions, but adds about 100 more! AHHHHH! Yep, there better be a book three! And pronto. ‘Cuz it’s another cliffhanger ending ladies and gents. Of course, the cover art is amazing! The fabulous Brandon Dorman has done it again! You’ll want to read the book just because it has such a fantastic cover! If you want action, suspense, mystery, wizardry—or not wizardry, cool mechanical birds, mind control, car chases, or night-time sailing expeditions, this book is for you! Hang on, though, it’s quite the ride!

Content Rating PG+Content Rating: PG+ (I’m adding the + to this book because even though there isn’t any profanity, he sometimes uses words that are very close to profane words as a substitute. He also says things like, “This guy cursed up a storm.” I thank him for not using the actual words, but the reader does know that cursing was involved. There isn’t any “intimacy,” but there is some violence. Ozzy, Sigi, and Rin fight off some bad guys, and there is a kidnapping.)

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/2FSMGK6

 

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Wizard for Hire by Obert Skye The Inventor's Secret by Chad Morris Janitors (Book #1) by Tyler Whitesides
 
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The Five Legends by the ANASAZI Foundation

The Five Legends by the ANASAZI Foundation

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Book Review of The Five Legends by the ANASAZI Foundation

When the publicist asked if I would review this book I said, “Yes!” because it has a good title. I don’t usually read the blurbs about books, so when I picked it up I totally thought it was going to be MG or YA fantasy. Hahaha! Ummmm…no. This book is not fantasy at all. It’s fiction, but it’s an allegory written about two brothers whose hearts have turned against each other. These brothers happen to be people that lived long ago. The Anasazi. It’s not very long, but it packs a big punch! There’s a lot of wisdom and knowledge squeezed into a few pages. There are many lessons to be gleaned from this story. Find out more in my book review of The Five Legends by the ANASAZI Foundation.

Blurb:

“Drawing on thirty years of helping families in crisis, this profound fable by the ANASAZI Foundation illustrates the anguish of conflict and shows how we can end war within ourselves, within families, and even between nations.

The Five Legends is the story of two estranged brothers, leaders of their people, who find themselves on an unexpected journey marked by struggle as they fall into a formidable canyon. Trapped and injured, the two brothers are rescued by an old man—‘the last of a people’—who agrees to guide them out of the canyon, but only if they agree to listen to the Five Legends of peace. The brothers learn that to heal any conflict we must first look within ourselves. At its core, ‘War does not begin or end with armies and leaders. In truth, war begins and ends within each of us—within our hearts.”

My Book Review:

When I agreed to review this book I had never heard of the ANASAZI Foundation. It sounds like an amazing program. The ANASAZI Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3)that is based in Arizona. It’s a “wilderness therapy program for young adults and youth at risk [and has been] recognized internationally for its caring and nonpunitive approach to helping youth overcome challenges and see their seeds of greatness.” This program “gives young people an opportunity, through a primitive living experience and a philosophy that invites healing at the hands of nature, to effect a change of heart—a change in one’s whole way of walking the world…[It gives youth] a place free from distractions, where one can learn, ponder, and build” If you’d like to learn more about the ANASAZI Foundation, you may find more information at: www.anasazi.org.

Now onto the story. Picture two teenage or early-twenties young men. Brothers. They are the sons of their people’s leader, and they do not get along. They argue and disagree with each other. When their father passes away the disagreements come to a head and the two brothers go different ways. Each leads his people, and each blames his brother for the rift, heartache, and all his problems. Many years pass, and with each passing year their hatred of each other increases. Then something happens that brings them together for the first time in many years. An accident follows, and they embark on a journey to mend their divided hearts.

This book is very well written. It flows well, is easy to read and understand, and I really like the writing style. Somehow it makes you feel calm and peaceful even when it’s discussing war and fighting. I loved reading about the Five Legends of peace. This book is broken up into different sections, and I didn’t find it off-putting or difficult to read. The character development is very well done. You feel like you are feeling the emotions of the characters.

My favorite thing about this allegory is all the lessons that it packs into its slim 96 pages. Wow! You’ve got forgiveness and repentance. You have looking inside yourself first before placing the blame on someone else. There’s also the importance of family and living a life of WE. I love that one! We can’t do much by ourselves, but when WE work together, we can do amazing things. You also have the importance of seeing each other as people. Real people—with feelings, dreams, hopes, strengths and weaknesses—people who are doing their best. We need to look at the positives and the good in people before we focus on everything that is wrong.

I think the journey the brothers take is significant also. Being together and doing things together on this journey through life is what bonds us together. Also, life is a journey. Sometimes bad things happen, and sometimes good things happen along the way. There may be times where we get lost or lose our possessions. There may be times along the way where we feel like we can’t go on or we lose hope. What’s important is the connections in our lives—our connections to other people. It’s living a life of WE instead of me. It’s the importance of looking outside ourselves and seeing other people. Really seeing them.

I liked this book a lot. I loved watching the characters grow and develop along the way, and I loved all the symbolism and lessons. This book teaches some very important lessons that are needed in today’s world. I highly recommend this book. I think it would make a great family or school read-aloud too!

Content Rating PGContent Rating: PG (There isn’t any profanity or “intimacy” in this book. There isn’t any violence either.)

Age Recommendation: YA (13-18) and Adult (Younger children could read it, but they will not grasp the symbolism or lessons taught.)

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

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

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Review of Atomic Habits by James Clear

Atomic Habits by James Clear

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Book Review of Atomic Habits by James Clear

I swear, everywhere I turned, James Clear was there talking about his book. I heard him on several podcasts, heard other people talking about it, and then I kept seeing his book everywhere. Well, it worked. All that promotion definitely caught my attention. I reserved Atomic Habits at the library and then waited. After a brief wait, I checked the book out and brought it home. I was super excited to read it. Then life happened—school, kids, house, other books—and I kind of forgot I had the book. That was, until I got an email saying it was due back to the library. Oops! I hadn’t even started it yet. Guess what I did? I started the book. Yep, I didn’t take it back. That was a couple of weeks ago, and I just finished the book. Ummm…yeah, I’m going to have quite the fine, but I had to finish! If you haven’t heard anything about this book, check out my book review of Atomic Habits by James Clear.

Blurb:

“No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for getting 1% better every day. James Clear, one of the world’s leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.

If you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves not because you don’t want to change but because you have the wrong system for change. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. In Atomic Habits, you’ll get a plan that can take you to new heights.

Clear is known for his ability to distill complex topics into simple behaviors that can be readily applied to daily life and work. Here, he draws on ideas from biology, psychology, and neuroscience to create an easy-to-understand guide for making good habits inevitable and bad habits impossible. Along the way, readers will be inspired and entertained with true stories from Olympic god medalists, award-winning artists, business leaders, life-saving physicians, and star comedians who have used the science of small habits to vault to the top of their fields.

Atomic Habits will reshape the way you think about progress and give you the tools and techniques you need to transform your habits—whether you are an athlete looking to win a championship, a leader hoping to optimize an organization, or an individual who wishes to quit smoking, lose weight, reduce stress, and achieve success that lasts.”

My Book Review:

I know you’re asking…was it worth the big fine at the library? In a word, yes! I have never thought about habits in this way. It is clearly a new way of thinking, and it takes a bit of a shift in perspective. However, once that shift is made, I think it will be difficult to go back to the old way of thinking. Clear makes it seem so easy!

This book is very well written. His writing is clear and to the point. His writing style is easy to read and understand. The book has a great progression from small to big-picture, and each chapter is well thought-out and full of ideas. I like the chapter summaries at the end of each chapter that give the reader quick bullet points to remember what was taught. There are also diagrams throughout each chapter that do a great job of illustrating his points.

I love the examples that Clear uses to show and explain his thoughts and ideas. He uses Olympic athletes, professional sports coaches, and important business people’s routines and processes to show how it all works, and it makes it seem so simple! He’s not naïve, though. Clear knows that it’s harder than it seems, so he does a good job explaining how easy it is to fall off the habit-train. What’s great is that he gives you ideas on how to make it easier to start, follow, and continue habits.

I feel so ready to start some habits! I’m pumped, and I’m also ready for the long-haul. This truly is a remarkable book. It’s filled with a new way of thinking about habits, and a simple shift in perspective that will allow people of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, and abilities to improve their lives. This book aims to make people the best they can be, and I’m excited to get started!

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

Age Recommendation: YA (13-18+) and Adult

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

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

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

the seven habits of highly effective families by stephen r covey The Compliment Quotient by Monica Strobel does change have to be so hard
 
 

Waiting For Fitz by Spencer Hyde

Waiting For Fitz by Spencer Hyde

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Book Review of Waiting For Fitz by Spencer Hyde

Mental health is a difficult topic to discuss. It’s rough sometimes. It is also a topic that is very close to my heart. I have a child who suffers from debilitating anxiety, panic attacks, and depression. This child missed months of school and was so sick that he had to be hospitalized. Twice. We thought he may need to be put in a mental ward, but, thankfully, he never had to. That was almost two years ago, and although it’s gotten a lot better, anxiety is something he deals with daily. We’re still living minute to minute with him. The more people I tell his story to, the more people tell me that their child deals with something similar. We need to talk about this. We need to bring this issue to the forefront because it is way more common than we think it is. Let’s end the stigma. Fiction is a great way to start this process, and I applaud Spencer for tackling this tough issue. Learn more about his book in my book review of Waiting For Fitz by Spencer Hyde.

Blurb:

“Addie loves nothing more than curling up on the couch with her dog, Duck, and watching The Great British Baking Show with her mom. It’s one of the few things that can help her relax when her OCD kicks into overdrive. She counts everything. All the time. She can’t stop. Rituals and rhythms. It’s exhausting.

When Fitz was diagnosed with schizophrenia, he named the voices in his head after famous country singers. The adolescent psychiatric ward at Seattle Regional Hospital isn’t exactly the ideal place to meet your soul mate, but when Addie meets Fitz, they immediately connect over their shared love of words, appreciate each other’s quick wit, and wish they could both make more sense of their lives.

Fitz is haunted by the voices in his head and often doesn’t know what is real. But he feels if he can convince Addie to help him escape the psych ward and get to San Jan Island, everything will be okay. If not, he risks falling into a downward spiral that may keep him in the hospital indefinitely.

Waiting For Fitz is a story about life and love, forgiveness and courage, and learning what is truly worth waiting for.”

My Book Review:

I loved this book! The wit, humor, and word play Spencer Hyde uses make the book, for sure. Let’s talk about the wittiness of this book. It’s clever, well-timed and well-placed, and it makes for some great banter between Addie and Fitz. Fitz’ shirts are great, and I love that Addie and Fitz are about equal in their wittiness so they have some fun conversations. The humor goes along with the wit. I am a word lover, so I love the words and language in this book. Both Fitz and Addie are very intelligent, and I love how they use words in their conversations. Oftentimes we think of wit and word play as strategies to convey humor or happiness. It’s light and airy, right? Well, somehow Spencer Hyde is able to use both wit and humor during difficult and hard conversations as well. He is quite a gifted writer.

I’ve talked a bit about Addie and Fitz. They are definitely the main characters in the book, and they are great characters. Each of them is well thought-out, well developed, and unique. Even though they both like to be witty, they do it in a way that matches their own personality. I loved learning about each character’s history, strengths, weaknesses, and struggles. OCD and schizophrenia are very different diagnoses, and even though I don’t have either one of them, I thought they were portrayed well.

The other patients in the ward are also developed well. Leah, Wolf, Didi, and Junior each have their own reasons for being in the mental ward, and you really feel for each of them. Yes, there is humor around them and some of their conditions, but at the same time, you know how much they struggle. You know they don’t want to be there. You want them to get help and hopefully be able to graduate out of the ward. The use of humor around some of their difficulties makes you laugh, but it also serves as a way to highlight that condition and how hard it must be to live with that mental illness.

This story pulls at your heartstrings. As the reader you want to be able to jump in and help those kids. You want them to feel loved and to be able to find a way to cope with their conditions so they can return to the outside world. I’m so thankful to the people that work in mental health. There are not enough of them. When my son was struggling the most, I called pretty much every psychologist within a 50 mile radius of my house. The shortest wait I could find was three months. Yep, all of them were either booked out three months, didn’t see children, or didn’t take our insurance. We need more good, smart, and kind people to work in mental health.

I loved this quote by the author:

Addie’s OCD is a reflection of my experience translated through a fictional character…In Waiting For Fitz, I have taken my personal experiences and fictionalized them. I have created this made-up world and tried to fill it with real-world significance, and meaning, with truth. I believe that is the aim of all fiction: we strive to put words into a rhythm and order that will reveal something redemptive about what it means to be human. It is a lesson in empathy; it is practice in how to live.

I agree completely. What a great way to discuss complex topics. Fiction allows you to see a more complete picture of the characters’ lives, of their personalities, wants, dreams, strengths, weaknesses, and trials. Fiction allows you to see a different side of the story, and to feel many of the characters’ emotions. Just as Wonder highlights physical attributes, Waiting For Fitz highlights mental illness and the need for more compassion, empathy, knowledge, and acceptance.

fitz blog tour 1

Content Rating PG-13Content Rating: PG-13 (There isn’t any profanity or “intimacy” in this book; there is one scene that is a bit violent. However, this book is full of themes that are inappropriate for MG or younger readers. )

Age Recommendation: YA (13-18) and Adult

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

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

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2Fbif1j

 

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Seven at Sea by Erik and Emily Orton

Seven at Sea by Erik and Emily Orton

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Book Review of Seven at Sea by Erik and Emily Orton

Wow! What an adventure! I grew up boating—on lakes. I love it so much. I’m a pretty good slalom skier, and I love the feel of the wind as you cruise on top of the water. However, when the weather turns nasty, I want to be as far away from the water as possible. The big waves scare me. A lot. It scares me so much that I won’t even go on the cruise my husband wants to go on. You know, the one on the really big, fancy boat. There is absolutely no way you’d get me in a 38 ft. catamaran that I’d have to sail. Through the Caribbean. With my four kids. And the Ortons have five kids. They are brave and adventurous! I admire their sense of family, and am kind of jealous of some of the lessons they learned together, but I think I’d rather learn some of those lessons on land. Learn more about their book, and their adventure, in my book review of Seven at Sea by Erik and Emily Orton.

Blurb:

“Working the night shift as a temp in a high-rise cubicle, Erik Orton knew something had to change. He felt the responsibility of providing for his wife and their five children—the youngest with Down syndrome—but craved a life that offered more than just surviving.

Watching the sailboats on the Hudson River during his sunset dinner breaks, Erik dared to dream. What would it be like to leave the hustle of the city and instead spend a year on a sailboat, somewhere beautiful, as a family? Despite having no sailing experience, his wife Emily’s phobia of deep water, and already stretching every dollar to pay rent and buy groceries, the family of seven turned their excuses into reasons and their fears into motivation. Sure, they would miss their friends, they could go broke, they could get injured or die. Worst of all, they could humiliate themselves by trying something audacious and failing. But the little time they still had together as a family, before their oldest daughter left for college, was drifting away. The Ortons cast off the life they knew to begin an uncertain journey of 5,000 miles between New York City and the Caribbean, ultimately arriving at a new place within themselves.

A portrait of a captivating and resilient family and a celebration of the courage it takes to head for something over the horizon, this is a deeply compelling story—told alternately by Erik and Emily—for all those who dream of leaving routine in their wake.”

My Book Review:

I just have to say that they are way braver than I am! There is no way my husband could ever talk me into doing something like this. I’m way too scared of the ocean. I don’t mind playing in the waves if the water is warm, but I’m scared of going on a cruise on a big, fancy boat. Yeah, no way. However, I do greatly admire them. I have a 17 year-old who will be a senior next year, and I would love to do something like this, but on land. I’d love to have my family all to myself for just a little while.

This book is well written. I liked the writing styles of both Erik and Emily. Sometimes I had to look back to see which one of them had written that chapter, but it was usually obvious by their writing. As a woman, I thought it was interesting to read Erik’s point of view. It’s not often we women get to delve into a man’s brain like that. I definitely related more to Emily, but it’s always great to hear the other point of view. Each of their chapters were well thought-out and full of emotion.

I found it interesting that you could feel the tension between them in some of the chapters. It wasn’t always easy. They made sure the reader knew that it was a hard journey. Living in a little boat like that with seven people for that long would be very difficult, and I appreciated their honesty. I know how frustrated I get sometimes when we’re camping for a week. Haha! Living on a boat would be so hard. I think they all had to learn how to read each other and give space, if needed. They also had to learn how to individually handle their personal struggles so they didn’t turn into a complete meltdown.

I loved learning about their journey! The strength and growth of the children was amazing to see. What an amazing memory and story they’ll always have to tell. I’d love to read about this journey from their perspectives as well. Some of the lessons they learned will be invaluable in their lives.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Although I’d never want to do it on the ocean, I may need to make time for a similar land journey. Maybe travel across the country, or something. I highly recommend this book. It’s fun to read about people reaching and fulfilling their dreams. It allows you, as the reader, to dream and plan too.  

Content Rating PG-13Content Rating: PG-13 (There isn’t any violence in this book, and there are only one or two swear words. However, there are two occasions where they mention that they, “Make love.” There aren’t any details or descriptions–that’s all it says.)

Age Recommendation: Young Adult (14+) and Adult

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

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

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2Ux1D9p

 

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A Monster Like Me by Wendy S. Swore

A Monster Like Me by Wendy S. Swore

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Book Review of A Monster Like Me by Wendy S. Swore

Have you ever thought of yourself as something unlovable or scary? It starts as a small idea and then festers into something uncontrollable and real. I think everyone has short moments where they may think that of themselves. Sophie thinks this of herself constantly. She’s convinced she’s a monster, which breaks my heart. No one should think that, especially a child. She got the idea from her favorite book—The Big Book of Monsters that she always keeps with her. Yes, it’s big and heavy, but that doesn’t stop her from carrying it everywhere. It’s how she determines which monsters or creatures are living around her—so she can protect herself. Find out more in my book review of A Monster Like Me by Wendy S. Swore.

Blurb:

“Being the new kid at school is hard, but Sophie has a secret weapon: her vivid imagination and her oversized, trusted Big Book of Monsters—an encyclopedia of myths and legends from all over the world. The pictures and descriptions of the creatures in her book help her know which kids to watch out for—clearly the bullies are trolls and goblins—as well as how to avoid them. Though not everyone is hiding a monster inside; the nice next-door neighbor is probably a good witch, and Sophie’s new best friend is obviously a good fairy.

Sophie is convinced she is a monster because of the ‘monster mark’ on her face. At least that’s what she calls it. The doctors call it a blood tumor, and it covers almost half of her face. Sophie can feel it pulsing with every beat of her heart. And if she’s a monster on the outside, then she must be a monster on the inside, too. She knows that it’s only a matter of time before the other kids, the doctors, and even her mom figure it out.

The Big Book of Monsters gives Sophie the idea that there might be a cure for her monster mark, but in order to make the magic work, she’ll need to create a special necklace made from ordinary items—a feather, a shell, and a crystal—that Sophie believes are talismans. Once she’s collected all the needed ingredients, she’ll only have one chance to make a very special wish. If Sophie can’t break the curse and become human again, her mom is probably going to leave—just like her Dad did. Because who would want to live with a real monster?”

My Book Review:

As a mom and a teacher, it breaks my heart to think of this darling girl thinking something so terrible of herself. She has a blood tumor on her face, and it’s big. You can see why she’d think of herself as an ugly monster. The problem is, she can’t figure out which kind. She’s read her book dozens of times, and she can figure out what everyone else is, but she can’t find a description that matches her monster-type. She must be one, though, because she’s ugly, and it would explain why her dad left her. Once again, it makes me so sad that she thinks of herself in this way.

This book is so well written. Sophie’s voice in the story is sweet, real, and protective of her secret. Her thought process is realistic and child-like, and it draws you into the story. The descriptions of the monsters are witty and clever. I love how quick Sophie’s mind worked to match a person to a monster. It works because we all tend to judge people by their appearance and actions (whether or not those judgments are accurate is a different story), Sophie just goes a step further and puts a monster description with it.

The character development in this book is fantastic. You feel like you know each of the characters personally, and they come to life on the page. Sophie is well developed, likable, imaginative, and spunky. Sometimes I cringe with her because she has a bit of temper sometimes. Autumn is so sweet and fun. Just like a fairy. Mrs. Barrett reminds me of my grandma and Sophie’s mom is realistic, has her flaws, and has her strengths. I think she’s really good for Sophie. I do feel bad that Sophie feels like she can’t tell her mom everything she’s feeling.

This is such a clever story. The way Sophie’s imagination puts everything together is so imaginative and unique. It’s like living in a whole imaginary world. Having four kids myself, I can see that she’s using it as a coping mechanism to help her deal with her reality. And, she’s using it as a way to hide. It’s a good lesson to learn, though. There are quite a few great lessons and values in this book: friendship, the importance of relationships, learning that everyone has trials to overcome, not being judgmental, and the importance of talking about your problems.

A Monster Like Me reminds me of Wonder. It’s important for children and adults to read stories like these because it tends to put things in perspective. Learning lessons from a book Is a lot easier and less painful than learning them in real life. I loved this book and think the middle-graders and YA will also love it! If you liked Wonder or Mustaches for Maddie then you will enjoy this book. I highly recommend A Monster Like Me by Wendy S. Swore. This book would also make a great read-aloud.

Author’s Note

Sophie’s story is dear to my heart because I know how it feels to be bullied because I looked different from everyone else. When I was a child, I had a hemangioma on my forehead that stuck out so far my bangs couldn’t cover it, no matter how hard my mother tried. Because the tumor was made up of blood vessels, I could feel my heart beating inside it when I was playing hard or really upset.

The incident at the grocery store where the hydra lady says, “Hey, look kids! That girl doesn’t need a Halloween costume. She’s already got one!” is an exact quote of what a woman once said to my mother and me. Another woman told a classroom full of kids that I had the mark of the devil. Kids asked if it was a goose bump, or hamburger, or if my brains had leaked out. My dad had to chase away some bullies who had followed me home, called me names, and pushed me into the street. Sometimes, after a bad day of bullying, I wished I could just rip the mark off my face and be like everyone else—but it was a part of me, and wishing didn’t change that.

My parents decided to take an active role in educating the people around me so they would know what a hemangioma was and understand that it wasn’t icky, or gross, or contagious. Whenever we moved to a new place, my dad would go with me to the elementary school and talk to the kids about my mark and let them ask questions. After those talks, kids befriended me and noticed when bullies came around. Like Autumn, my school friends would speak up when they saw someone being mean to me, and sometimes they would stand between me and the bullies until they left me alone. I didn’t let the bullies stop me from doing what I wanted to do. I climbed trees, went swimming, wrote poetry, brought my tarantula and snakes to show-and-tell, and played in the tide pools.

This is my message to anyone who experiences bullying: Don’t let the bullies define you! I’ve been there, I know it hurts to be teased, but don’t let it stop you from doing what you want. Find something you enjoy—a hobby, talent, or challenge—and practice that skill. Know that someone out there, maybe even someone in your same school, needs a friend as much as you do. Be that friend. Stand up for each other. And know that you are not alone.

You can always find me at WendySwore.com, and I would love to hear your stories and what you thought of the book.

MLM blog tour Image

Content Rating PGContent Rating: PG (It’s clean! There’s no profanity or “intimacy.” There is some bullying and there are a few blown tempers with unkind words.)

Age Recommendation: Middle-graders (4th-6th) and YA (13-18)

My Rating: 4.5/5

4.5 Star Rating

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

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2EO91Ik

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

mustaches for maddie Squint by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown Wonder by R.J. Palacio
 
 
Featured Image Photo Credit: Goodreads.com

Book Review of Healing Hearts by Sarah M. Eden

Healing Hearts by Sarah M Eden

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Book Review of Healing Hearts by Sarah M. Eden

What a fun surprise to be able to return to Savage Wells! I liked The Sheriffs of Savage Wells even though it was a bit corny. When I heard about Healing Hearts by Sarah M. Eden, a sister book about another character from Savage Wells, I had to get my hands on it. Lucky for me it turned out be about one of my favorite characters. The doctor, Gideon MacNamara, is a favorite in the town and of readers. I liked his character a lot in the first book, so I was excited to read more about him in this book. Even though I lost a little respect for him when I found out he sent for a mail-order bride, he may have done enough after that to gain back some of that respect.

Blurb:

“As the only doctor in the frontier town of Savage Wells, Gideon MacNamara knows his prospects for a bride are limited. The womenfolk in town are either too young, too old, or already spoken for. So, being a practical man, he decides to take advantage of the matchmaking service of the day—mail-order brides—and sends away for a woman with nursing experience.

When Miriam steps off the stagecoach in Savage Wells, she sees a bright future in front of her. But when the town—and Gideon—meets her, ready for a wedding, her excitement quickly turns to horror. Somehow Dr. MacNamara’s message had gotten turned around. He didn’t want just a nurse, he wanted a wife. When she refuses to marry him, she finds herself stranded in Savage Wells with some very unhappy townspeople.

But Gideon is not like the other men Miriam has met. Embarrassed by the misunderstanding, he offers her a job, and the two begin an awkward—and often humorous—dance of getting to know each other as they work to care for the people of their town. Romance blossoms between the two, but when a former medical associate of Miriam’s arrives in town, Gideon and the other townsfolk must rally around Miriam to protect her from a dangerous fate. Gideon and Miriam must decide if they are willing to risk their hearts for each other even as buried secrets are brought to light.”

My Book Review:

Well, the first thing that comes to mind after reading this book is how thankful I am to live right now—in February of 2019. I’m thankful that “the matchmaking service of the day” is no longer mail-order brides! It might be an internet dating site or a crazy aunt Esmerelda, but thankfully it isn’t mail-order any more. I’m also thankful for vaccinations, medical knowledge, hospitals, and women’s rights. I know that it may not be perfect, but we live in an amazing time, and we’ve come a LONG way!

Healing Hearts is written well. I personally think it’s much better written than The Sheriffs of Savage Wells is. It still has a few cheesy parts, but really, what is a romance without those morsels? The writing style of the book just draws you in. From the very first page you just feel connected to the story. It’s descriptive without feeling overdramatic, and simple enough to match the feeling of the time. Don’t get me wrong, although seemingly simple, the story is complex, with several plot lines converging from many places.

You have Miriam’s past and present, Gideon’s past and present, along with the townspeople. As the reader, you have the opportunity to meet many of the townsfolk. As you meet them and learn of their stories, it helps you better understand their feelings, motivations, and loyalties. The townspeople and the main characters are well written and well developed. There are a few familiar faces along with a few new faces as well. Some of the new faces aren’t too friendly, but a few of them may surprise you. Miriam and Gideon are so well developed.

Miriam is a bit guarded about her past, and it’s understandable when you learn more about her. Gideon takes her guardedness the wrong way and almost ends up destroying their chances all together. Of course we get to see Paisley, Cade, and Hawk again, and that’s fun. I love how they all play off of each other. Their friendship and loyalty are part of what makes them such great characters.

At first glance, the story may seem superficial. Man sends for mail-order bride. Bride didn’t get the bride memo and runs away. However, when you get into the story, it’s quite complex and has a heavier feel to it than the previous book. The topics and themes are very weighted and serious. There are some severe and deathly diseases discussed, along with serious mental health issues, which were not dealt with properly in the 1800s. Women’s rights are also right there at the top in this book. I wish it were just women’s pay, or something easier to discuss, but it’s truly about a woman’s right to be herself. To take care of herself.To represent herself.To prove herself.To be a human.

Although I liked the ending and thought it came together well, there were a few situations that worked out a little too perfectly. As a reader, I’m glad they did, but it may not be quite as realistic as what would have really happened. It’s also a little predictable. Overall, though, I loved the book. Since I’ve started teaching I don’t have as much time to read as I’d like to, but even with little time, I made time for this book. I finished it in two days because I couldn’t put it down. Now, my dishes and children may have felt a bit ignored, but they’ll live.  If you like proper romances, sweet love stories, or medical dramas, you’ll enjoy this book.

healing hearts blog tour image

Content Rating PG-13Content Rating: PG-13 (There’s no profanity or “intimacy” this book (except for some kissing). You don’t read any physical violence scenes, but there is some physical abuse described, and it’s not pretty. There is also some emotional abuse and a severe sickness that sickens many characters. The themes and topics discussed are quite heavy.)

Age Recommendation: 14+ (Some of the topics discussed may be too much for 14 year-olds. Parents will be the best judge of what their children can handle.)

 

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 the photo below:

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

The Sheriffs of Savage Wells by Sarah M. Eden Longing for Home by Sarah M. Eden  Ashes on the Moor by Sarah M. Eden
 
 
*Featured Image Credit: goodreads.com
 

The Transparency Tonic (Book #2) by Frank L. Cole

The Transparency Tonic by Frank L Cole

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Book Review of Potion Masters: The Transparency Tonic (Book #2) by Frank L. Cole

When I grow up I want to be a potion master! Seriously. It sounds like so much fun! Brewing potions that make you weigh as much as a car or make ivy grow all around you sounds like so much fun! I really like this blind batching stuff. Who knew that some people are so smart that they can come up with new potions on the fly? Yep, I want to be a potion master. I’ve probably already passed the age of showing my ability, but who knows? It sounds so fun! I mean, you are always in danger, with evil forces constantly working against you, but that’s a small price to pay for all that fun, right? Right? Find out in my book review of Potion Masters: The Transparency Tonic (Book #2) by Frank L. Cole.

Blurb:

“It has been nine months since Gordy and his friends, Max and Adilene, stopped Esmerelda from destroying B.R.E.W. (the Board of Ruling Elixirists Worldwide) and the Vessel—the main source of power for the secret society of potion masters. Gordy is starting the eighth grade, and has been practicing new potion brewing techniques, but when he starts zoning out during practice, he knows something is wrong.

Gordy and his friends continue to work on their potions, but when Gordy chooses Max as his lab partner, Adilene starts to wonder if she still has a place with her old friends. She turns to a new friend, Cadence, who might know a way to help Adilene become a potion master on her own.

And in Greenland, Mezzarix has a chance to escape his Forbidden Zone—as long as he agrees to work with the mysterious Ms. Bimini and replicate an unusual solution known as ‘Silt.’ It could be just the weapon Mezzarix needs to destroy B.R.E.W. forever.

As Gordy’s potion-making talents increase, so do the frequency of his blackouts, which raises some troubling questions. With both B.R.E.W. and the Vessel in danger, and with the potion world in chaos, it’s up to Gordy, Max, and Adilene to rally the remaining Potion Masters before it’s too late.”

My Book Review:

First off, I love the cover of this book! Owen Richardson did a great job with the cover art. This series is so fun! I loved the first book and couldn’t wait to get my hands on the second one. My kids enjoyed it as well. Even my big 15 year-old enjoyed this book. In my sixth grade classroom, many of my students have also read the first book and enjoyed it. Needless to say, I was excited to read book #2!

The book starts off with Gordy trying out a new potion called ‘Trapper Keeper.’ Fun stuff! I seriously love the creativity in this book! Frank Cole has quite the imagination! For example, Bolter’s car is hilarious! Estelle the cat car—she has many feline characteristics, but my favorite is the oily mesh and wire ‘hair ball.’ Haha! And the different potions that Gordy comes up with are so great! I love the potion that makes the person weigh as much as a car. I’m not sure when I’d use a potion like that, but I bet it could come in handy at times.

I love the characters. Gordy, Max, and Adilene are great characters. They have different personalities, strengths, and weaknesses, and yet they work well together. I like that they’re not perfect and they still act like eighth graders. Mezzarix is scary. Evil. Brilliant. Creepy. He makes a good bad guy! There are some of our favorite characters in this book, and there are a few new ones as well. They’re well developed and well written.

Frank Cole’s writing is witty, descriptive, captivating, and so creative. His writing style is engaging, and it pulls you into the story. There are a few different story lines in the book, and they all come together very well.  This book is well written—I  couldn’t put it down, and I’m a mom! The middle-graders are going to love this book! If your child has read and enjoyed the first book…run, don’t walk, to pick up this one!

Content Rating PG+Content Rating: PG+ (There is no profanity or “intimacy” in this book, but there is some violence. Good vs. evil battle it out, and although it’s not too graphic, it might be a bit scary for younger readers.)

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/2FXIgCK

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Potion Masters book 1 by Frank L. Cole Dragonwatch (Book #1) by Brandon Mull  The Inventor's Secret by Chad Morris
 
 

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