Beverly, Right Here by Kate DiCamillo

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Pages: 256

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Published: September 24, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Revisiting once again the world of Raymie Nightingale, two-time Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo turns her focus to the tough-talking, inescapably tenderhearted Beverly.

Beverly put her foot down on the gas. They went faster still.
This was what Beverly wanted — what she always wanted. To get away. To get away as fast as she could. To stay away.

Beverly Tapinski has run away from home plenty of times, but that was when she was just a kid. By now, she figures, it’s not running away. It’s leaving. Determined to make it on her own, Beverly finds a job and a place to live and tries to forget about her dog, Buddy, now buried underneath the orange trees back home; her friend Raymie, whom she left without a word; and her mom, Rhonda, who has never cared about anyone but herself. Beverly doesn’t want to depend on anyone, and she definitely doesn’t want anyone to depend on her. But despite her best efforts, she can’t help forming connections with the people around her — and gradually, she learns to see herself through their eyes. In a touching, funny, and fearless conclusion to her sequence of novels about the beloved Three Rancheros, #1 New York Times best-selling author Kate DiCamillo tells the story of a character who will break your heart and put it back together again.

My Review:

I had never read Kate DiCamillo until a year and a half ago when several of my students had to read Because of Winn-Dixie for their third-grade class. I have been hooked since.

I’m a huge fan of coming of age literature. DiCamillo does an outstanding job in showing us how sometimes we have to choose our family whether that includes a favorite pet or an elderly woman who is fighting to live on her own. It is ok for family to be those friends you pick up on the way during your life’s journey. Love comes in many different forms and sometimes when we least expect it.

Beverly, Right Here is another perfect read-aloud book to promote discussion with the middle-graders in your life. I enjoy how DiCamillo left the story open-ended as we have the hope to visit the Three Rancheros again.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Candlewick Press, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

Strands of Truth by Colleen Coble

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Pages: 337

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Published: September 10, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Strands of Harper Taylor’s childhood are resurfacing—but will the truth save her . . . or pull her under?

Harper Taylor is used to being alone—after all, she grew up in one foster home after another. Oliver Jackson finally took her under his wing when she was a runaway teenager, and now Harper pours her marine biology knowledge into Oliver’s pen shell research. But she’s never stopped wishing for a family of her own.
So when a DNA test reveals a half-sister living just two hours away, Harper is both hopeful and nervous. Over warm cinnamon rolls, Harper and Annabelle find striking similarities in their stories. Is it just a coincidence that both their mothers died tragically, without revealing Harper and Annabelle’s father’s name?

Oliver’s son Ridge still sees Harper as a troubled teen even all these years later. But when Oliver is attacked, Ridge and Harper find themselves working together to uncover dangerous secrets that threaten to destroy them all. They must unravel her past before they can have any hope for the future.

My Review:

Wow, Coble has made me think twice about doing a DNA test to see my ancestry. I never thought about it being used maliciously. I’m a little scared now.

The mystery is a page-turner and interesting. I appreciate how Coble keeps the romance and the language clean.

There are many characters and some may find that a tad confusing but if you think about it when half-siblings come into play families get large very quickly. I would have loved to know more about Annabelle and Harper’s newfound sisterhood. Maybe someday we will see them in a future book as side characters.

If you are looking for a good mystery with family at the core Strands of Truth is a perfect read.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Thomas Nelson, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

Beach Weekend Wedding by Rachel Magee

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Pages: 298

Publisher: Hallmark

Published: May 15, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: When Brody broke up with Paige and went to Europe, he suggested that someday, they’d pick up right where they left off. A hopeless romantic, she believed him. But when they meet again, Brody’s dating a gorgeous actress. They’re all going to attend the same wedding, and Paige plans to win Brody back. She even enlists her best friend’s brother, Aiden, to pretend to date her and make her ex jealous. A breezy, charming restaurant owner, Aiden actually avoids serious relationships, but as a fake boyfriend, he’s perfect. As old friends and exes take part in wedding preparations and enjoy the beauty of the Florida coast, they begin to see themselves—and each other—in a new light.

My Review: When I want a good-hearted romance I turn to Hallmark Publishing. Their books are as sweet and comforting as their movies. Paige and Aiden’s story is the perfect story to read as you relax on a hot summer weekend.

This book is a good one for the teenager in your life that wants to read romance older than young adult. It has no foul language and no sex scenes (mild kissing). Also a good book for your elderly grandma.

A bonus: the book includes a recipe for BBQ Brisket Tacos with Sunshine Slaw. I am thinking of making this summer.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Hallmark Publishing through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

The Summer Guests by Mary Alice Monroe

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Pages: 368

Publisher: Gallery Books

Published: June 11, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: Late August is a beautiful time on the Southern coast—the peach trees are ripe, the ocean is warm, and the sweet tea is icy. A perfect time to enjoy the rocking chairs on the porch. But beneath the calm surface bubbles a threat: it’s also peak hurricane season.

When a hurricane threatens the coasts of Florida and South Carolina, an eclectic group of evacuees flees for the farm of their friends Grace and Charles Phillips in North Carolina: the Phillips’s daughter Moira and her rescue dogs, famed equestrian Javier Angel de la Cruz, makeup artist Hannah McLain, horse breeder Gerda Klug and her daughter Elise, and island resident Cara Rutledge. They bring with them only a few treasured possessions they can fit in their vehicles. Strangers to all but the Phillips, they must ride out the storm together.

During the course of one of the most challenging weeks of their lives, relationships are put to the test as the evacuees are forced to confront the unresolved issues they have with themselves and with each other. But as the storm passes, they realize that what really matters isn’t what they brought with them to the mountains. Rather, it’s what they’ll take with them once they leave.

My Review: Mary Alice Monroe is my go to Southern writer every summer. I live for her view of the beach, sea life and Southern family drama. It allows me a vacation when I can’t take one.

The Summer Guests is a different summer southern read. The focus is on how a hurricane displaces more than people. Families have to find shelter for their pets from million dollar horses to the tiniest puppy. Living so far from the ocean, these are concerns I do not think about when listening to the news. Monroe does an exceptional job of letting one know about this issue.

Fans of southern fiction need to add this to their “must read” list for the summer. You will not be disappointed.

I received a complimentary copy from Gallery Books through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

A Deadly Feast (A Key West Food Critic #9) by Lucy Burdette

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Pages: 283

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Published: May 7, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: Thanksgiving is nearly here, and Key West food critic Hayley Snow has just one more assignment to put to bed for Key Zest magazine before she gets to celebrate with her family and her police officer fiancé, Nathan Bransford. Then, just days later, wedding bells will ring—if death doesn’t toll first.

The sweet potatoes and stuffing will have to wait when Hayley picks up a distraught phone call from her friend, Analise Smith. On the last stop of a seafood tasting tour run by Analise, one of the customers collapsed—dead. With the police on the verge of shutting down the tour—and ruining Analise’s business—Hayley can hardly refuse her friend’s entreaties to investigate.

As if wedding jitters and family strife weren’t enough for Hayley to worry about, there’s crusty pastry chef Martha Hubbard, whose key lime pie may have been the murder weapon—but did she poison her own pie or was she framed? As the hours to Turkey Day tick away, the pressure cooker is on for Hayley to serve up the culprit on a silver platter in A Deadly Feast, national bestselling author Lucy Burdette’s taste-tempting ninth Key West Food Critic mystery.

My Review: This was my first foray into the world of Lucy and her Key West adventures. I am HOOKED! So much so I have already requested the first book in the series from my local library and have checked daily on its progress to my anticipating hands.

Even though I entered at book 9, I was never lost. The author did a great job in explaining the characters but it never felt like she was overdoing for those readers who have been reading since book one.

The story kept me riveted to the end and the description of the food made me rush to the store to make her Mojito Cookies this past weekend. They have been a hit. Next, I will try her pecan bars.

This is the perfect book to read outside, with a glass of sweet tea and some form of sparkling water in front of you.

I received a complimentary copy from Crooked Lane Books through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

 

Friends to the End (0.5 The Walnut Creek Series) by Shelley Shepard Gray

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Publisher: Gallery Books

Published: February 11, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: When Andy’s baby sister Trish gets stranded at the family cabin during a massive blizzard, he calls upon his best friends—the Magnificent Eight—to go to his sister’s rescue.

Andy knows that several members of the Eight will drop everything to help, and they’re the perfect solution because the Amish aren’t hindered by stalled cars—they can travel just fine in their buggies.

But when Logan, Trish’s secret crush, is the first to volunteer to save her, she can’t help but worry that despite the freezing temperatures, being alone with Logan might mean that things heat up pretty fast. Filled with Shelley Shepard Gray’s signature “heart-warming, heart-stopping” (Wendy Corsi Staub, New York Times bestselling author) prose, Friends to the End is an evocative and endearing romance.

My review: Wow, what an introduction to the Walnut Creek Series. I was blown away by how a novella made me fall in love with the characters so quickly. I am a sucker for Amish romance and this novella delivered on all aspects. The end will leave you hungering for more.

A quick read perfect for a quiet evening.

I have already read the blurb for book one, The Patient One and I am very impatient to read the book. Warning do not read the blurb for book one until you have read this novella.

I received a complimentary copy of this novella from the publisher, Gallery Books, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo

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Pages: 240 (eBook)

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Published: October 2, 2018

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Beautifully written. The ending will bring you all the feels from sadness to happiness to love. Twenty four hours after finishing I am still moved to tears thinking about this book.

Louisiana Elefante is awakened in the middle of the night by her Granny and told they are leaving for good right then. As they cross the FL/GA state line Louisiana realizes she will never see her friends again and starts plotting in her head how to get back to Lister, FL. When Granny starts having dental problems and finding a dentist is the number one goal, Louisiana finds more than she bargained for in a new friend and the family she has always dreamed of being apart of.

If the cover with a little blond girl and a cute bunny barrette does not pull you in immediately you will be pulled in by the second page and falling in love with Louisiana. Her spunkiness and pure childlike look into the word will grip your heart and not let it go. You will admire her determination and strength as she navigates the hand that is dealt to her.

Louisiana’s Way Home is a book I will be re-reading for years to come and will be sharing with my students every year. A wonderful example of how you can overcome a rough start in life and with grit and determination you can decide on who you will become.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Candlewick Press through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

Loving the Person You are Today This is Me by Chrissy Metz

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Pages: 320 (Audiobook)

Publisher: HarperCollins

Published: March 27, 2018

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I wish this book had been around in my early twenties. I have been lucky to have parents who have loved me and encouraged me no matter what size I am but I have always had a small issue with worrying about what others think of me and a little self-conscious wearing clothes that fit instead of baggy clothes that I thought hid everything. In just the last ten years or so have I learned to be comfortable in my own skin. If I had this book in my early twenties I can only imagine how I would have learned to embrace me for me earlier in life.

Chrissy Metz writes as if you are sitting at the dining room table, drinking coffee and sharing your life with each other. You really feel as if she is a friend. Some reviews say this is a self-help book and others classify it as a memoir. I would say it is a cross between the two but in no way did I feel as if she was telling me “Do this or you will never be happy.” She was conversationally telling the reader how she came to love who she is and maybe something in her conversation will help you.

If you are the parent of a young woman who feels unworthy this may be a book you can read together and talk about and help your young woman love herself. If you are phobic of overweight people this may be a book you read to learn we are humans too and have feelings and want the same thing in life you do: love and acceptance.

I commend Chrissy for talking about the ugly and non-ugly parts of her life. I hope she stays true to herself as her fame rises.