The Cats Came Back, Sofie Kelly

 

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Title: The Cats Came Back

Author: Sofie Kelly

Pages: 336

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Is this part of a series?  Yes, book 10 of the Magical Cats Mystery series.

Publish Date: September 4th, 2018

Summary:

         The magical cats are back with their beloved librarian-owner Kathleen.  Their town is busy these days, getting ready for Roma’s wedding as well as the town’s music festival.  When a close friend and look-alike of one of the cabaret singers for the festival turns up dead, everyone is looking to Kathleen for answers- forget that it’s her boyfriend that’s the detective.  

Can Kathleen help solve this crime with the help of her sleuthing scamps without putting herself or her relationship in danger?

My thoughts:

           I love these stories!  This is a great cozy mystery series.  The characters are interesting and well developed, and I love how they interact with one another.  Owen and Hercules, the magical cats, are a great addition (due to where they came from each has a unique ability; Owen can turn invisible and Hercules can go through walls).  Each book in the series gives me a little more development with the characters as they continue to grow throughout.  I like that.

            A fast paced book with a good story line, this is just a good, fun read.  I give it a four.  I cannot wait for more!  normal star rating normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

        On the adult content scale, I wouldn’t rate it too high.  There is some language and violence, but as always it’s pretty tame.  I would let my niece read these.  Let’s give it a three.  General.svg

I was lucky enough to receive an eARC of this book from First to Read in exchange for an honest review.  My thanks!  first to read

The book comes out 9-4-18!  Are you ready?

Link to book:

Amazon  

Happy Reading,

Amber

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New Release Tuesday!!! 8-28-18

Hi guys!!! This is a super exciting release day.  I have not one… not two… but three ARC’s to discuss.  Let’s get started!!!

harbor me Geared toward children… I would say ten and up… this is an amazing piece that will rock readers of all ages.  When six fifth graders without a lot in common are allowed an hour a week in a room without adults to talk things get real.  Fast.  They accept their safe place for what it is- somewhere they can discuss what’s bothering them.  Everything from bullying, racial profiling, change in social/ economic status, loss of a loved one- both permanent and temporary… their lives, their fears are laid bare.  In doing to they learn how to accept one another, make each other stronger, and be a safe harbor.  See full review here.

darius the great is not okay

Geared toward teens and up.  Half Persian, half American, Darius has always felt like he belonged to two worlds without ever being part of either.  He doesn’t speak Farsi unless one counts food.  He doesn’t fit in with the American crowd.  Socially awkward and clinically depressed, it’s hard for him not to feel like he’s a disappointment to everyone.  When they go Iran for the first time to see his sick grandfather.  He didn’t even know how to relate to his grandparents over face time!  As he spends time here, though, and makes a friend and familial connections… can he finally find a part of him that belongs somewhere?  And what happens when they go back to America?  See full review here.

sold on a monday

Geared toward adults.  Ellis sees two boys sitting by a sign: 2 children for sale.  Stopping on his way to cover another society event he never meant to be drawn to those kids.  To take a picture of them.  He certainly never meant for the picture to get the the boss.  Now he has one shot at doing what he really wants- Meaningful stories.  How far would you go to get your dream?  When a simple article skyrockets both Ellis and the family in the picture into the media, no one is ready for the results.  Can he keep his career and keep the family safe? 

….It all started with a picture….. Read full review here.   

One last thing!  While I know it isn’t exactly a new release, having come out July 31st, 2018, it’s new to me.  I discovered a book by The Daily Show with Trevor Noah  entitled The Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library  I haven’t bought it yet, but I plan to.  I have found myself flipping through it on break (yeah, we sell it at my Walmart!), and giggling.  It’s broken into chapters and has some pretty great stuff.  You should check it out.  Amazon

donald twitter library

Have I missed any releases?  Let me know!

Happy Reading,

Amber

Harbor Me, Jacqueline Woodson

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Title: Harbor Me

Author: Jaqueline Woodson

Pages:  192

Genre:  children’s/ middle grade realistic fiction

Is this part of a series?  No.

Publish Date:  August 28th, 2018

Summary:

          It starts with six kids meeting in a classroom at their teacher’s insistence to talk.  No adults and no off limit topics so long as it’s done with respect.  They barely know one another, but as they begin to see the ARTT room as a safe place, they begin to talk about what’s bothering them.  The loss- both temporary and permanent- of a loved one, deportation, racial profiling, bullying and change in financial station.  As they begin to trust one another, to lean on one another, they find a safe harbor in the storm of life.  

Ms. Laverne had said once that they needed to ask themselves a question:

‘If the worst thing in the world happened, would I help protect someone else?  Would I let myself be a harbor for someone who needs it?’  Heavy thoughts for a fifth grader…. but these aren’t just any kids.  Each one has been shaped by hardship of some sort, each one is strong enough to shoulder burdens that would bury others.  This is their story.

My thoughts:

I will be buying this book- most likely several copies for loved ones.  It’s hard hitting, painful and poignantly beautiful.  I loved these characters so, so much.  Haley especially.  With her mother dead and her father in jail, her uncle is the only parent she has ever really known… so what happens with her father comes home and everything changes?  How do you even talk to someone that has been away for that long- especially when you can’t comprehend what he went through?  Estaban, keeper of his father’s poetry, was captivating.  Amari, who wants so badly to be a man- or at least a tough kid- having to come to terms with things he can no longer do even though his best friend can- all because his father wants to keep him alive.  Tiago, who has to watch his mother shink time and again every time she’s told to go back to their own country- all for speaking Spanish.  It isn’t even that they can’t speak English, but that the language is ingrained into their Puerto Rican heritage… it’s part of who they are.  All of these kids, and the things that they face, could be any one.  It reminded me that we don’t know people’s story… it’s so easy to judge someone, you know?  And it’s an ugly, ugly thing.  But here, these six learned to talk about their issues, and help one another through them.  I loved that.  I loved that it showed another path- not being scared, angry, hurtful… but harboring one another.  Taking their pain.  Helping them move forward.  It was beautiful.  

I mean, the writing got a bit choppy from time to time.  Everything is seen through Haley’s eyes and emotions, so that will happen.  For the most part, though, it was well written and engaging.  It oddly felt far too short, and yet there was so much more here than I would have imagined a novella capable of.  I highly recommend this book for readers of all ages.  Five stars!normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

On the adult content scale, these are some really heavy hitting subjects.  While it is written for 9+, I would definitely have a discussion at the end.  I give it a three.  General.svg

I was lucky enough to receive an eARC of this book from First to Read in exchange for an honest review.  My thanks!  first to read

The book comes out 8-28-18.  Is it on your TBR?

Link to book:

Amazon

Kobo

Happy Reading,

Amber

Darius the Great is Not Okay, Adib Khorram

 

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Title: Darius the Great Is Not Okay

Author: Adib Khorram

Pages:  320

Genre:  YA, cultural

Is this part of a series?  No

Publish date: August 28th, 2018

Summary:

       Darius The Great is not okay.  He has depression, and he gets picked on at school.  He has trouble connecting with his father, always feeling like a disappointment not only to his father but everyone.  Half American, half Persian he feels like he can’t sit comfortably within either label.  Terribly awkward and a little too in love with Lord of the Rings, it isn’t easy to make friends and form connections.

When they find that his grandfather is sick, the family takes off to Iran.  Enveloped into the culture that makes up the other half of him is a bit overwhelming.  He doesn’t know Farsi, as we have established…. but it runs deeper.  He doesn’t understand the social cues.  His sister, nearly fluent in Farsi, is doing great and their grandparents love spending time with her…. but how does he create his own space in their life?  How are family members also complete strangers, and how does he learn to open up to them?

Sohrab, the boy next door to his grandparents, changes everything.  He is kind, confident and well adjusted.  He makes sure to include Darius, and makes sure that others do as well.  For once, he isn’t a disappointment and he doesn’t need to change or hide.  And it feels amazing!  Having a good friend to talk to, lean on, play with and care for has allowed Darius to open up, to move forward and to accept the good in himself even with the issues.  When it’s time to go home, though, and let go of the Football playing Persian Darioush, will he be able to keep a bit of that at home?  Sohrab had told him once that there was a saying- “you’re place was empty”.  Had Darius found his place beside Sohrab and his grandparents?  Could he find one in America?

My thoughts:

I feel like I am kind of all over the place here.  I loved the book, even if the last two chapters made me cry in public (do not read those chapters while eating in the mall food court…. trust me).  I loved Darius with his awkwardness and odd references.  The fact that he named things- like the water boiler at work and his grandfather’s car- made me smile.  It reminded me that, depression aside, he’s a basic teen.  I am not a fan of Lord of the Rings, and thus didn’t get all the references…. but I got enough for it to be charmingly geeky.  The issue with this character is that he lives so much in his own mind, letting his perception of things along with his insecurities take over his life.  I saw a lot of myself there.  As a teen I struggled with depression, and I felt like a failure a lot of the time.  I would try to hide it… but I felt like I would never fit in.  That part of Darius spoke to me.

The other characters were well developed.  I kind of loved Sohrab.  He was a good friend to Darius and allowed him to be himself.  He also made mistakes, though…. colossal ones.  I liked how he tried to make things right and owned his mistakes.  This character allowed for Darius to take down walls and try for things.  While I did wonder a few times if there was a bit of a romance there; it never came to anything.  At best it was one person feeling another, or someone being just too warm toward their first real friend.  

     I do like how he spoke of his depression.  Even though he was ashamed of it- or maybe because of this- it rang true for me.  As far as the mental health issues, though, I think Stephen said it best.  He had always seemed distant because he was upset about giving this to his son; and he didn’t know how to protect him from it or from how the world would see it.  That hit me profoundly.  This is an issue for a lot of parents with depression, and anxiety.  In opening up to his son, he allowed me to see him differently.  It was a great scene.  for me, this is a four star book.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

On the adult content side, there’s a little bit.  There’s some extensive verbal bullying and the like.  A bit of language.  Then there’s how others perceive Darius’ depression.  While I feel that was needed for the book, it made it a bit…. much at times.  I don’t know if I should place it in the realm of “adult content” but it may be upsetting for young teens.  Let’s give this one a three.  General.svg

I was lucky enough to receive an eARC of this book from First to Read in exchange for an honest review.  My thanks.  first to read

The book comes out 8-28-18.  Is it on your TBR?

Link to book:

Amazon

Happy reading,

Amber

 

 

New Release Tuesday! 8-21-2018

not her daughter
I didn’t have any ARC’s coming out this week, but I did see Not Her Daughter.  It sounds amazing, but what really caught my attention was the review I saw on novel gossip.  I loved hearing her thoughts on the story line and overall book.  I bought this one today, but I don’t know when I will be able to get to it.

Summary:

(From Goodreads).  Gripping, emotional, and wire-taut, Not Her Daughter raises the question of what it means to be a mother—and how far someone will go to keep a child safe.

Emma Townsend. Five years old. Gray eyes, brown hair. Missing since June.

Emma is lonely. Living with her cruel mother and clueless father, Emma retreats into her own world of quiet and solitude.

Sarah Walker. Successful entrepreneur. Broken-hearted. Kidnapper.

Sarah has never seen a girl so precious as the gray-eyed child in a crowded airport terminal. When a second-chance encounter with Emma presents itself, Sarah takes her—far away from home. But if it’s to rescue a little girl from her damaging mother, is kidnapping wrong?

Amy Townsend. Unhappy wife. Unfit mother. Unsure whether she wants her daughter back.

Amy’s life is a string of disappointments, but her biggest issue is her inability to connect with her daughter. And now Emma is gone without a trace.
As Sarah and Emma avoid the nationwide hunt, they form an unshakeable bond. But what about Emma’s real mother, back at home?

I really want to read this one!  Are there any other releases I missed?

Happy Reading,

Amber

 

 

 

 

 

Sold on a Monday, Kristen McMorris

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Title: Sold on a Monday

Author: Kristina McMorris

Pages:  332 (this is the end of the actual book in the paper copy.  Then there are some interesting notes from the author and a book club Q&A).

Genre: Historical fiction

Is this part of a series?  No.

Publish date: Now here’s the rub: everyone is saying that the book comes out on August 28th- Publisher, Amazon, Netgalley….. and yet I bought my copy at Walmart last Tuesday.  ($12.99)

Summary:

sign children for sale

          “It all started with a picture.” 

   Ellis only stopped for a second- on the way to cover another boring society dig.  The boys, sitting by this sign, though…. it caught him.  It wasn’t the first time he’d used the paper’s camera like this…. but it would be the most meaningful.

      When the pic gets brought to the chief’s attention Ellis is offered his chance- just one shot- to write worthwhile stories.  Starting with one about this family.  He has good intentions- keep the family mostly out of the spotlight- write about it like this could be just about the turmoil of so many American Families.  But you can’t shine a spotlight like that and expect the family to stay hidden.

            The worst part?  There’s a secret, only known to Ellis and the mother and kids, that no one can know.  Not only is his career skyrocketing due to someone’s pain…. the secret is breaking him apart.  

          Lilly, secretary at the paper, only meant to help.  First to help Ellis with his story, then help with the fallout.  Sometimes you can do things with the best of intentions… and still cause pain.  When the family risks being torn apart can a reporter and his friend really be enough to turn the tide? 

      This book brought to stark image the pain and desperation of 1930’s America.  

My thoughts:

        This book broke me for so many reasons.  I think the author stated it best in her notes.

In the direst of times, I could fathom perhaps having to make such a heartbreaking choice for the sake of my children.  But why on earth ask for money in return?’

Her friend answered “because they wanted to eat”.  It’s easy to judge a family that could do this without thinking of why, what they are going through.  It’s also far too easy to ignore the suffering of others unless it’s placed in a spotlight… like, say some cute kids with a for sale sign in the paper.  It’s easy to say that they could have done something else… any thing else… but could they?  When I read the reasoning it actually made perfect, heartbreaking sense. 

        The characters are well developed and wonderfully flawed.  Each has their strength, their goodness, their hidden guilt and their faults.  It’s these well developed characters that really brought the book to life for me.  I fell madly in love with these well meaning but flawed individuals.  

           Part of the heartbreaking aspect for me was that this was inspired by an actual picture that first showed up in the Vidette-Messenger of Valparaiso, Indiana in 1948.  

4 children for sale

The story was well written and thought provoking.  I loved the way it moved from Lilly to Ellis and back allowing for a duel narrative that gave a better understanding of what each character felt.  Even as Ellis tried to enjoy his success, and did things he never thought he would in order to achieve it, there was still that small bit of the good guy wanting to shake the world.  For me, this is a five star book.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

            On the adult content scale, this is has violence, language and drinking.  It isn’t much and if that was the only concern then I would say it was about a three.  Due to the treatment of the children, though, I feel I have to add a bit more.  This is some heavy hitting material.  I have to give it a five.  I would say that this is definitely geared toward adults.  Parental Guidance

           I was lucky enough to receive an eARC of this book from Netgalley and Landmark in exchange for an honest review.  I also ended up buying it, so that I could add a few quotes to the bottom of the review (and because I loved it).  pro_reader_120

The book is still marked to come out August 28th, 2018 (I am a bit confused).  Have you read it?  Is it on your TBR?

Link to book:

Amazon

And now… a few quotes.

‘Seeking inspiration, he again studied the photo.  There were a variety of slants to consider.  His fingers hovered over the keys, waiting for words to come.  Something provocative.  Something newsworthy.  Maybe even…. Creative.’

‘It was darkly intriguing in a way. The sight of strangers in dire straits had become so commonplace that they were as good as invisible to most.  But shine a spotlight on members of a single family- a pair of cute kids huddled together, a desperate mother shielding her face- and they become human.  Folks who deserve compassion.’

‘There was so much more she could say, about what she had learned of that photo. About the damning secret he harbored.  About how pictures, like people, so often were not as they appeared. ‘

Seriously, though… go get the book, it is phenomenal!

Happy reading,

Amber

 

Please… just read this.

gonzalez        Picture courtesy of 10 News.

I don’t care about your political leanings, this should concern you.  No matter how one feels about the current problem with illegal immigration it has to be said: these are people.  They have a past, a future, hearts and dreams- and they had their reasons. Whether what they did was right, or their reasoning justified…. let’s table that for the moment.  Let’s just remember they are humans- friends, neighbors…. maybe your children even go to school with theirs.

So many are saying that we need to just let ICE and the Trump administration take care of things…. but have they really looked into what that entails?  I am leaving a link to a story I first read about in USA Today.  I couldn’t find the link for that story on their website, so I chose another news outlet that is also running the story.   Read it, and ask yourself one thing- what if this individual didn’t have friends to help?  What happens to those that have no one to fight for them?

10News

-Amber