Like Nothing Amazing Ever Happened by Emily Blejwas

amazing

Pages: 224

Publisher: Random House Children’s (Delacorte Books for Young Readers)

Published: April 14, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: A moving story involving PTSD, war, poverty, death, and love. A book for middle-grade readers and adults. It will open the eyes of adults to the questions and emotions children experience when facing death. Everything may look fine on the outside but inside there are questioning everything from could they have done something different to prevent it from why did it happen.

I can see many of the kids I work with connecting with this book on many levels. Unfortunately so many have lost a parent to death. Hopefully, this book will show them questioning the whys and hows is ok but that it is also ok to cry and talk with others about what they are experiencing. Everyone experiences death differently.

I am interested in other works by this author.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, Random House Children’s, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: A poignant story of a boy picking up the pieces of his life after the unexpected death of his father, and the loyalty, concern, and friendship he finds in his small-town community.

Justin doesn’t know anything these days. Like how to walk down the halls without getting stared at. Or what to say to Jenni. Or how Phuc is already a physics genius in seventh grade. Or why Benny H. wanders around Wicapi talking to old ghosts. He doesn’t know why his mom suddenly loves church or if his older brother, Murphy, will ever play baseball again. Or if the North Stars have a shot at the playoffs. Justin doesn’t know how people can act like everything’s fine when it’s so obviously not. And most of all, he doesn’t know what really happened the night his dad died on the train tracks. And that sucks.

But life goes on. And as it does, Justin discovers that some things are just unknowable. He learns that time and space and memory are grander and weirder than he ever thought, and that small moments can hold big things, if you’re paying attention. Just like his math teacher said, even when you think you have all the information, there will be more. There is always more.

Set during the Gulf War era, Like Nothing Amazing Ever Happened is a story about learning to go on after loss, told with a warmth that could thaw the coldest Minnesota lake.

On the Horizon by Lois Lowry

horizon

Pages: 80

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group

Published: April 7, 2020

Rating 5 out of 5 stars

My Review: A very interesting read regarding Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima told from a child’s perspective. I liked how Lowry focused on some of the soldiers’ lives before Pearl Harbor. It gives children something to connect to on an event that they might find hard to relate to as it occurred so long in the past.

It was also very moving to read how American and Japanese children felt in Japan after the bombing of Hiroshima. Kids just want to play with each other and be friends. Unfortunately, as adults, we prevent that from happening by teaching them discrimination from an early age.

The eeriest part of the book is reading about the hospital ships, Mercy and Comfort being used after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. These are two ships the United States is currently using during the pandemic of the Coronavirus. They are ships of pain and heartache once again helping our nation in our time of need.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: From two-time Newbery medalist and living legend, Lois Lowry comes a moving account of the lives lost in two of WWII’s most infamous events: Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. With evocative black-and-white illustrations by SCBWI Golden Kite Award winner Kenard Pak.

Lois Lowry looks back at history through a personal lens as she draws from her own memories as a child in Hawaii and Japan, as well as from historical research, in this stunning work in verse for young readers.

On the Horizon tells the story of people whose lives were lost or forever altered by the twin tragedies of Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. Based on the lives of soldiers at Pearl Harbor and civilians in Hiroshima, On the Horizon contemplates humanity and war through verse that sings with pain, truth, and the importance of bridging cultural divides. This masterful work emphasizes empathy and understanding in search of commonality and friendship, vital lessons for students as well as citizens of today’s world. Kenard Pak’s stunning illustrations depict real-life people, places, and events, making for an incredibly vivid return to our collective past.

In turns haunting, heartbreaking, and uplifting, On the Horizon will remind readers of the horrors and heroism in our past, as well as offer hope for our future.

The Grace Kelly Dress by Brenda Janowitz

grace

Pages: 384

Publisher: Harlequin – Graydon House Books

Published: March 3, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: A beautiful 3 generational story that will leave you filled with hope and love. I loved how it showed the importance of honoring our past. Our past helps make up who we are today whether we realize it or not.

My favorite storyline was the bride’s mother. There were many surprises that when revealed tied so much together and made the story.

The title is what drew me to this book as I remember reading a paperback over and over again throughout middle and high school about Grace Kelly. The cover had a picture of her in her wedding dress. I wish I still had the book.

This book is for all romance, fiction, and fans of weddings.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Harlequin – Graydon House Books through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above reviews are entirely my own.

NetGalley: Two years after Grace Kelly’s royal wedding, her iconic dress is still all the rage in Paris—and one replica, and the secrets it carries, will inspire three generations of women to forge their own paths in life and in love.

Paris, 1958: Rose, a seamstress at a fashionable atelier, has been entrusted with sewing a Grace Kelly—look-alike gown for a wealthy bride-to-be. But when, against better judgment, she finds herself falling in love with the bride’s handsome brother, Rose must make an impossible choice, one that could put all she’s worked for at risk: love, security and of course, the dress.

Sixty years later, tech CEO Rachel, who goes by the childhood nickname “Rocky,” has inherited the dress for her upcoming wedding in New York City. But there’s just one problem: Rocky doesn’t want to wear it. A family heirloom dating back to the 1950s, the dress just isn’t her. Rocky knows this admission will break her mother Joan’s heart. But what she doesn’t know is why Joan insists on the dress—or the heartbreaking secret that changed her mother’s life decades before, as she herself prepared to wear it.

As the lives of these three women come together in surprising ways, the revelation of the dress’s history collides with long-buried family heartaches. And in the lead-up to Rocky’s wedding, they’ll have to confront the past before they can embrace the beautiful possibilities of the future.

The Elephant by Peter Carnavas

elephant

Pages: 176

Publisher: Myrick Marketing and Media LLC

Published: March 17, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I solely picked this book based on the title and was greatly surprised by how deep the theme of the story. We met Olive who along with her family is working through the grief after the death of her mother.

While this may be considered a middle grade/children’s fiction book I think adults could get a lot of info from this. One is how children are more perceptive to what we as adults are experiencing and feeling. We try to keep on a happy face in front of them but they know when we are upset or are bothered. A lot of children will try their hardest to fix us but do not understand why their fix is not working.

Another review mentioned she was a little worried that this book would convince children that with a little hard work they could fix the adult troubles and that is not always the case. My personal opinion is that it shows children that with hard work they can overcome their own grief and depression when the time is right.

I am intrigued to look into the author’s other works.

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

NetGalley: A jewel of a middle-grade novel about a resilient little girl who longs for her dad to break free from the elephant of his depression.

When Olive’s dad drags himself to work in the morning, the elephant goes with him. When he comes home again, so does the elephant. It’s always there, heavy and silent, casting a shadow of sadness over him. Olive knows it has been like this since her mother passed away when she was a year old, and she can’t stand to see her father burdened anymore. With help from her grandfather and her best friend Arthur, she hatches a plan to rid her family of the elephant once and for all.

Before long, she’ll learn that while happiness isn’t that simple, small things can move mountains—or elephants.

Award-winning author-illustrator Peter Carnavas portrays a child’s response to her father’s depression with naïve wisdom. In defiance of the looming grey presence, The Elephant is an intergenerational story of resilience, family, and hope.

Judy Moody and Friends: Prank You Very Much by Megan McDonald

judy

Pages: 64

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Published: March 10, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: A good book for young elementary school readers. It would be a good read-aloud for first graders.

Illustrations have great detail and will draw the littlest reader’s attention.

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.

NetGalley: Judy can’t wait for her mischief to bear fruit when Stink discovers that his backyard science project is an overnight success. Hardy-har-har!

Prankenstein strikes again! The Summer Science Showdown is just around the corner, and Stink is positive that he has the recipe for a winning entry. Soon he’s acting like a mad scientist, with strong-smelling potions in hand and visions of super tomatoes dancing in his head. Judy takes one look at her busy brainiac brother and sees a situation ripe for a little mischief! Everyone knows that Judy has never met a practical joke she doesn’t like, and soon the Princess of Pranks is cooking up a recipe of her own. From Megan McDonald comes an epic match of wits in a Judy Moody story perfect for newly independent readers.

One Little Lie (The Pelican Harbor #1) by Colleen Coble

one

Pages: 354

Publisher: Thomas Nelson – Fiction

Published: March 3, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I was not happy with the ending! Why, do you ask? The ending left cliffhangers I wasn’t expecting. I thought I still had another chapter to go. I wanted closure.

One Little Lie kept me riveted to the edge of my seat. I was surprised so many times that I lost count. I’m happy to learn that book two is set to be released in September.

The is a clean Christian suspense with a little romance. There is mild violence but nothing with gory detail.

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

NetGalley: It started with one little lie. But Jane Hardy will do everything in her power to uncover the truth in this gripping new romantic suspense.

Jane Hardy is appointed interim sheriff in Pelican Harbor, Alabama after her father retires, but there’s no time for an adjustment period. When her father is arrested for theft and then implicated in a recent murder, Jane quickly realizes she’s facing someone out to destroy the only family she has.

After escaping with her father from a cult fifteen years ago, Jane has searched relentlessly for her mother—who refused to leave—ever since. Could someone from that horrible past have found them?

Reid Bechtol is well-known for his documentaries, and his latest project involves covering Jane’s career. Jane has little interest in the attention, but the committee who appointed her loves the idea of the publicity.

Jane finds herself depending on Reid’s calm manner as he follows her around filming, and they begin working together to clear her father. But Reid has his own secrets from the past, and the gulf between them may be impossible to cross—especially once her father’s lie catches up with him.

The Winemaker’s Wife by Kristin Harmel

winemakers

Pages: 401

Publisher: Gallery Books

Published: August 13, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My Review: I admit when my friend suggested this book for our monthly buddy read I was like ok. I wasn’t thrilled and the reason being was the cover turned me off. It felt ugly and boring and every time I looked it I thought the story would be too. I was WRONG! The story is anything but boring. I describe the story as fascinating, heartbreaking, triumphant and riveting.

I have read quite a few WWII historical fiction novels lately that go from present to past as alternating viewpoints throughout the story but for some reason, this felt fresh and exciting to read. The story of Ines, Celine, Michel, and Edith feels so real that as you read you physically experience what they are as much as you can. I admit I full out bawled the last 50 pages. I still get teary-eyed thinking about the ending.

Look past the cover and give this book a try. I think you will be as moved as I was.

Goodreads: The author of the engrossing international bestseller The Room on Rue Amélie returns with a moving story set amid the champagne vineyards of northern France during the darkest days of World War II, perfect for fans of Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale.

Champagne, 1940: Inès has just married Michel, the owner of storied champagne house Maison Chauveau, when the Germans invade. As the danger mounts, Michel turns his back on his marriage to begin hiding munitions for the Résistance. Inès fears they’ll be exposed, but for Céline, half-Jewish wife of Chauveau’s chef de cave, the risk is even greater—rumors abound of Jews being shipped east to an unspeakable fate.

When Céline recklessly follows her heart in one desperate bid for happiness, and Inès makes a dangerous mistake with a Nazi collaborator, they risk the lives of those they love—and the champagne house that ties them together.

New York, 2019: Liv Kent has just lost everything when her eccentric French grandmother shows up unannounced, insisting on a trip to France. But the older woman has an ulterior motive—and a tragic, decades-old story to share. When past and present finally collide, Liv finds herself on a road to salvation that leads right to the caves of the Maison Chauveau.

 

Finding Home (The Baxter Children #2) by Karen Kingsbury

home

Pages: 320

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing

Published: February 25, 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I’m a fan of Kingsbury’s Baxter Family series even though I have not nearly read enough of them. It is definitely a series I like to savor and take my time to read. I was very excited last year to read about the creation of a new series centering around the Baxter children. I am happy to say that book two was just as good as the first.

I find it refreshing to read a children’s book that highlights kids using their imagination during playtime. Being a teacher, I am saddened how many children cannot free-write stories using their imagination because they do not know how to imagine. I constantly hear stories from my littles telling me that they go home and watch hours of endless TV, Youtube or play video games that are far too adult for them. So many rarely go outside and pretend they are on an island made of lava and find ways to escape.

I love how Finding Home teaches right from wrong and being humble. No matter the age of the reader (child or adult) I think we all could learn from it. Even a gentle reminder. Being humble is a wonderful trait but one of the hardest in today’s society.

Finding Home is a great read-aloud for families.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: Summer is over and Dad begins his important position at an Indiana hospital. Like it or not, Bloomington is the Baxter Family’s new home. As school starts, everyone finds reasons to be excited about the move. Everyone that is except Ashley. Ashley desperately misses the home and friends she left behind. As she realizes her siblings have their struggles, too, she can’t help but wonder if unlikely friends can be the best friends of all? And could time and love from her family be enough to make a house feel like home?

In the second book in the Baxter Family Children series, #1 New York Times bestselling Karen Kingsbury and Tyler Russell tell the funny and poignant tale of the Baxter children finding home!

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

dream

Pages: 381

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: October 2, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: I tried reading this when it came out but never could get past the first few chapters. Every time I went to the library the cover kept pulling me towards it saying open me and read. Finally the other day I succumbed to the call and brought it home. I fell instantly in love with Carly’s story and hated to stop to be an adult and take care of my family.

Personally, I don’t believe in the time travel theory and that there are portals all around us but as I was reading The Dream Daughter I found myself thinking what if you could? Would you be brave enough to do as Carly did to save your child?

I highly recommend The Dream Daughter.

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

NetGalley: From bestselling author, Diane Chamberlain comes an irresistible new novel.

When Caroline Sears receives the news that her unborn baby girl has a heart defect, she is devastated. It is 1970 and there seems to be little that can be done. But her brother-in-law, a physicist, tells her that perhaps there is. Hunter appeared in their lives just a few years before—and his appearance was as mysterious as his past. With no family, no friends, and a background shrouded in secrets, Hunter embraced the Sears family and never looked back.

Now, Hunter is telling her that something can be done about her baby’s heart. Something that will shatter every preconceived notion that Caroline has. Something that will require a kind of strength and courage that Caroline never knew existed. Something that will mean a mind-bending leap of faith on Caroline’s part.

And all for the love of her unborn child.

A rich, genre-spanning, breathtaking novel about one mother’s quest to save her child, unite her family and believe in the unbelievable. Diane Chamberlain pushes the boundaries of faith and science to deliver a novel that you will never forget.

In Cold Chamomile (A Tea and Read Mystery #3) by Joy Avon

cold

Pages: 215

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Published: February 11, 2020

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

My Review: The third book in the A Tea and Read mystery series did not deliver the expected punch. It fell very flat.

There was much potential with the relationships between Iphy and Strong, Ace and Callie, and Quinn and Peggy but none of the stories between those couples were given a chance. What we did get was nuts and pieces and felt very rushed.

Overall it was a nice read.

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

NetGalley: Just in time for the holidays, In Cold Chamomile is sure to be a cupid’s arrow aimed straight for your bookshelf.

Tea party organizer Callie Aspen learns that Cupid’s arrows can be deadly when a Valentine’s Day soiree ends in murder.

Callie Aspen can’t think of a more appropriate place to spend Valentine’s Day than her adopted hometown of Heart’s Harbor, Maine. When she’s not helping out at Book Tea, her great-aunt Iphy’s vintage tearoom, Callie’s adorning Haywood Hall with hearts and roses for the big Valentine’s event, where townspeople will fall in love with sweet treats, heartwarming music, and delightful books. But tension is brewing: The librarian argues with the expert who is on hand to appraise precious volumes. And Iphy is shocked to recognize the baritone who’s slated to sing at the event as an old acquaintance–one she’d hoped she’d never meet again. And then, when a dead body is discovered, the stirring spoon of suspicion points at the many people who had reasons to want the victim dead.

When Iphy’s old acquaintance draws the attention of Deputy Ace Falk, Callie finds herself in a spot. Ace, as usual, doesn’t want Callie involved, but how can she ignore Iphy’s anguish over the fate of a man she cares for more than she will admit? Bringing the killer to justice may endanger Callie’s budding relationship with Ace–and, quite possibly, her own life.

Callie and the Book Tea crew may think they have this case in the bag, but un-kettling truths are yet to be decanted.