As You Wish

REVIEW: As You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti

Summary


Madison, Nevada is a dusty, rundown town in the middle of the desert. It’s the sort of place you pass through on your way to something else. And the locals like it that way. They don’t want folks to linger.

That’s because Madison is hiding a secret. While it seems like a dump on the surface, they are hiding magic. A wish-granting cave. Any time a resident of Madison turns 18, he or she goes to the cave and makes a wish. And that wish always comes true.

Eldon Wilkes is looking forward to his wishing day like someone would “look forward” to an invasive medical procedure. He’s seen how wishes have turned out for others. His parents’ marriage is strained to put it mildly. His sister’s condition is because of a wish. People are trapped in Madison because of wishing. Eldon’s feeling the pressure to make a wish to “fix” his family, but he knows no wish could fix what’s really wrong. But the clock is ticking. Eldon HAS to decide what he’s going to wish for.

Review


Wow. This book has really forced me to think. What impact did wishing have on the town and people of Madison? What would I have wished for? Would I have done something different in Eldon’s place? Eldon’s conversation with Othello Dewitt was the most thought provoking part of all. It’s the sort of passage you would go back to and read through again.

Eldon is an interesting character. I can’t say that I liked Eldon, but I was captivated by him and by his dilemma.  He’s complicated. His whole family is grieving while he is trying to make this huge decision. He’s feeling pressure from all sides. While a guaranteed wish sounds like an awesome thing, Eldon shows that there’s a dark side.

It’s easy to see the wish pieces of this story from the perspective of the decisions teens are making as they anticipate graduation and their future. I love that this book really made me think – even after the reading was done. I would like to read this with some high school juniors and seniors and talk about the parallels with the decisions they are trying to make. This would make a great book for group discussion. (Language)

Thanks to Netgalley and Sourcebooks for an electronic advanced reader copy of this for review purposes in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Escape Claws

REVIEW: Escape Claws by Linda Reilly

Summary


Lara returns to Whisker Jog, New Hampshire to check on her aunt, Fran. Lara hasn’t seen her in 16 years. A childhood friend tells her Fran is having some health issues. She’s also trying to take care of eleven cats. Lara feels responsible for checking up on Fran.

There’s tension between the women from the start. Lara feels guilty for being out of touch for so long. Fran is hurt that Lara never responded to her letters. Only, Lara never received them.

Before they can dig very far into the events of the past, the local land developer is found dead on Fran’s property. He was notorious around town for being a bully. And everyone in town had heard about the argument Fran had with him over property lines and his development plans. Now, Fran and Lara are prime suspects in his murder.

Lara is feeling torn between her responsibilities back in Boston and her desire to help Fran in New Hampshire. Maybe, if she can pin down who really killed the developer, she can clear Fran and get back to her old life.

Review


This was really good! The mystery was great. The rotten land developer is a fairly common set up for cozy mysteries, but there were some other twists in this case that kept the story fresh. There were plenty of suspects to choose from, and the overall solution kept me guessing regarding the motive and the big picture.

The characters were delightful in this book. The tension between Lara and Fran gave a nice layer to this story that is not typical in cozies. I hope future books will dig more into the lost years between them. Lara’s childhood friend and the potential love interests for both Lara and for Fran rounded out the core group well. I’m eager to see what happens next for these folks.

The cat angle was fun. They each had some personality, which was great. The mysterious Blue added yet another interesting layer to the story. I will definitely read more books in this series in the future.

Thanks to Netgalley and Kensington/Lyrical Underground for the opportunity to read an early electronic review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Invisible Emmie

REVIEW: Invisible Emmie by Terri Libenson

Summary


Emmie is a quiet, introverted 7th grader. She used to talk more, when her older siblings were at home. But since they left for college, Emmie’s gotten more reserved.

She has a best friend, but they don’t see each other much during the school day. So Emmie keeps her head down and focuses on her art. Drawing helps her with her lonely feelings and the knots she gets in her stomach at times.

When a note about her crush becomes public, Emmie wants to withdraw even more. What if he sees it? How can he miss it when it gets texted to everyone?!

Review


This was great. Emmie’s a terrific character. She reminded me of several girls I know – definitely on the quiet side (although the young ladies I know are more confident than Emmie and have bigger social safety nets). These things that Emmie goes through are pretty typical for middle school. I think most kids will be able to identify with the highs and lows of school at this age.

There’s an interesting twist to the story that I enjoyed. I won’t spoil it, but I would love to discuss it with some students and get their take on it.

Put this in the hands of kids who like books like Smile, Sisters, Roller Girl, Sunny Side Up, Real Friends and other books like those. They’ll feel right at home with Emmie!

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Young Queens novella

BOOK NEWS: December 26, 2017

Hope you had a terrific Christmas if you celebrate the holiday!! This is our last “Book News” of 2017.

Here are the new books releasing this week – a great way to use any of those gift cards you might have found in your Christmas stocking! Come back later this morning for a new review for kids, too.

Books for Kids


Be Brave, Little Penguin – Pip Pip wants to join his friends, but he is afraid of water.
Dear Girl – A love letter to the special girl in your life
Bad Guys in Intergalactic Gas – Book 5 in the Bad Guys series for new chapter book readers.
Battle of the Boss-Monster – Book 13 in the Notebook of Doom series. Part of the Branches line of early chapter books.
Dog Man and Cat Kid – Book 4 in the Dog Man series. This time, Dog Man gets a sidekick.
Fire, Fire – Book 3 in the Hilde Cracks the Case series about a real kid-reporter. Part of the Branches line of early chapter books
Magic School Bus Rides Again: Monster Power and Sink or Swim – New Magic School Bus books from the folks at Branches
Toy Academy: Some Assembly Required – Toys learn to play at the Toy Academy. You can imagine what happens at the Evil Toy Academy…. And the Evil Academy has Toy Academy in their sights.
Lego Nonfiction: Science – Latest in the Lego Nonfiction series.

Books for Older Kids/Teens/Young Adults


American Girl Real Stories from My Time: The Titanic and The Underground Railroad – Two nonfiction books in a new line from the folks at American Girl.
Detention of Doom – Book 3 in the DC Secret Hero Society series. Great for fans of the DC Super Hero Girls or other DC properties. Similar in style to the Jedi Academy series (although I prefer the art style in the two Jedi series over the art in book one of this series).
Houses of Hogwarts Creativity Journal – A guided journal for Harry Potter fans
The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily – A girl off her ADHD meds meets a brilliant boy in detention, and they connect over ancient love letters.
Love, Life and the List – A young woman with an unrequited crush on her best friend turns to her art as a distraction from love. She sets 10 challenges for herself to conquer in the hopes that it will add the emotion and heart to her art that is missing.
Young Queens (novella) – E-book prequel to Three Dark Crowns. This is the story of the three queens – after they were born, but before they were separated. This is my top pick for this week!  I’ve already requested this from my local library.

Books for Adults


Crust No One – Book 2 in the Bread Shop mystery series about a struggling photographer who tries her hand at bread baking. I enjoyed book one, and I’m looking forward to reading this!
Escape Claws – Book one in the new Cat Lady mystery series about a young woman who goes to care for her estranged aunt who has a houseful of cats. I really liked this mystery. You can read my review of this one here tomorrow.
Murder with Lemon Tea Cakes – Book 1 in the new Daisy’s Tea Garden mystery series. This series takes place in Pennsylvania Amish Country, and the Tea Garden becomes the scene of a murder. Sounds like a great new series. I’ll be checking this one out.
Now that You Mention It – A woman returns to her home after heartbreak to heal. But her old hometown holds a grudge. Her family is falling apart, and she might not have what it takes to hold things together. This sounds excellent! I’ve already requested this from my local library.
Stowed Away – Book 6 in the Maine Clambake series about a woman who returns home to help out the family’s struggling business. In this book, the main character is called on to help an old rival who is suspected of killing her fiancé.
The Good, the Bad, the Guardians – A handbook for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Covers the Winter Soldier through the introduction of Doctor Strange. This seems to be the second book in the line.

Prince in Disguise

REVIEW: Prince in Disguise by Stephanie Kate Strohm

Summary


It’s hard for Dylan to live in her sister, Dusty’s, shadow. Dusty is tall and gorgeous and popular and confident. She was Miss Mississippi. And now she is marrying Ronan, a Scottish lord-to-be that she met on the Bachelor-style reality show Prince in Disguise. Next to Dusty, Dylan feels geeky and awkward and out of place.

This is especially true when she finds herself at Ronan’s Scottish castle for their Christmas Eve wedding. First, the best man leaves her standing in the cold for almost an hour, waiting for a ride to the castle. She’s rescued by another groomsman, Jamie. At least he’s her age, smart and funny. But at the castle, she feels the cameras all around her. Dusty may be fine with all the TV attention, but Dylan wants no part of it.

The wedding-prep days include a lot of surprises for Dylan – things she’d like to keep off camera and to herself. Not the least of which are her feelings about Jamie. But she may find there are more important things than protecting her own privacy.

Review


I’m not sure I have words big enough for how much I loved this book! It was outstanding! I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a book like I did this one. It’s SO funny! It’s romantic. Sweet and fun and fiesty! I wanted it to go on and on. I loved the characters and wanted to spend even more time with them. This will definitely be a re-read for me! If the author decides to write a sequel, I will be the first in line to buy it!

Everything worked for me in this. The reality TV plot was terrific. It forced characters to decide what was for public consumption and what wasn’t. And how they would handle the difference. The family relationships changed and developed in the story in great, realistic ways. The chemistry between Dylan and Jamie was endearing. I loved them together. There were some fun surprises and plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. This could easily be my favorite book of 2017.

Many, many thanks to Netgalley and Disney Hyperion for the opportunity to read an electronic review copy of this spectacular book in exchange for an honest review. I honestly adored it. I read another book by Stephanie Kate Strohm earlier this year – It’s Not Me, It’s You– and I loved it too. That book made it onto my Holiday Hint List for 2017 – and if I had read this before I published the list, Prince in Disguise would have been on there, too.  Hand both of these books to the teens in your life – especially the ones who might not want books with the language and mature content found in some other books for teens and young adults.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥+++

Trouble with Murder

REVIEW: The Trouble with Murder by Kathy Krevat

Summary


Colbie and her son, Elliott, have moved in with her dad temporarily after her dad got sick. Their relationship became strained when she got pregnant at 18 and he kicked her out. Maybe now they can start repairing their relationship.

The new living arrangement is working pretty well. Elliott found a local theater group to join. Colbie is able to build her Meowio Batali Gourmet Cat Food business through local farmer’s markets. She even joined the Sunnyside Power Moms, a group of women with at-home businesses. Colbie is starting to find her rhythm.

The first wrinkle in the system is the nasty review Colbie’s business receives. Reviews like that could ruin her line before it even has a chance to take off. And she can’t pinpoint who the unhappy customer is – or if he is even really a customer. Then the head of the Power Moms is found dead. And Colbie is the prime suspect. With a police detective obsessed with finding her guilty, and a creepy guy threatening her family, Colbie is going to have to do her own sleuthing and find the real killer before she loses everything.

Review


This was such a fun mystery! The gourmet pet food home business is an angle I’ve read in another series. But the two distinguish themselves by the animals involved. Trouble, the cat in this book, is a great character. The whole cast in this book was terrific! Looking forward to reading another book in this series.

I was able to puzzle out the mystery, but there were still some nice surprises. It was fun watching Colbie work through each suspect on her quest for the truth. I hope future books include more of the lead police detective (the reasonable one), and the “puzzle guy.” They were probably my favorite characters after Trouble the cat.

Thanks to Netgalley and Kensington/Lyrical Press for the opportunity to read an early electronic copy of this book for review purposes in exchange for my honest opinion. This book was a delight to read!

Rating: ♥♥♥♥½

Me & Mom vs The World

REVIEW: Me and Mom Vs. the World by Jo Whittemore

Summary


Tori and her mom are getting by. But it’s just the two of them. Expenses exceed income, and money is really tight.

When they get word that Great-Aunt Muriel has died, and she planned a contest for a family member to win the estate, Tori wants to try to win.

The contest is to see who is the last family standing after two weeks of living like a Colonial family. Farming. No electricity. Doing things by hand. Not only will Tori and her mom have to figure out how to leverage both of their gifts, but Tori’s going to also have to work against sabotage and the temptation of a teenage boy.

Review


I’ve mentioned before that I enjoy the MIX line of books from Aladdin. This is one of the books in that line, previously published under the title Colonial Madness.

The story is fun! Tori and her mom have an interesting dynamic since it’s been just the two of them for so long. And while Tori tends to be the serious one, she has a lot to learn about her mom. She sees only how they are different – not the things that make her mom special and capable in her own way.

For me, the contest was secondary to the mother/daughter story and the other things going on between the characters. I was frustrated by some of the adults and the ways they handed things that came up. But it all come together in a satisfying ending!

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Prince in Disguise

BOOK NEWS: December 19, 2017

This week kicks off my favorite time of the year. And in the new releases is a book that may be my favorite book of the whole year. Let’s take a look:

Books for Kids


I Love Pete the Kitty – First in a new series of board books introducing even younger readers to Pete the Cat. In this series, Pete is just a kitten.
Valensteins – Instead of scaring, Fran K Stein is making… A Valentine! Is Fran in love?

Books for Older Kids/Teens/Young Adults



Here, There, Everywhere – A guy feeling alone in a new town meets a girl who changes everything. Except she is counting down the minutes until she can leave.
Prince in Disguise – Dylan’s older sister won the heart of a “prince” on the reality show, Prince in Disguise. Now Dylan is in Europe, at a castle, for her sister’s wedding. The cameras are still rolling, and Dylan wants no part of it. Only Jamie is making any part of this tolerable. THIS BOOK! Oh my goodness. I ADORED this book! I’ll be reviewing this on Thursday – you’ll have to come back then. This could be my favorite book of the year.

Books for Adults


Barna Trends 2018: What’s New and What’s Next at the Intersection of Faith and Culture – The latest research findings from the Barna Group. I know it sounds geeky, but I love information like this. This would be cool to read!
Create Your Life Book: Mixed Media Art Projects for Expanding Creativity and Encouraging Personal Growth – This would be a cool project to kick of the new year.

Lock and Key

REVIEW: Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

Summary


Ruby has gotten used to being abandoned. After her parents’ divorce, her dad drifted off to a new life without Ruby, or her sister Cora. When Cora left for college, she never looked back at her life with an alcoholic mother. Even though she had been Ruby’s protector when they were kids, she left Ruby alone with their mother. Now, Ruby’s mom has walked off, too, leaving 17-year-old Ruby to fend for herself. And she can only dodge their landlord for so long before someone notices that she’s alone and barely getting by.

Once Social Services gets involved, Ruby is sent to live with Cora and her husband, Jamie, in their ritzy neighborhood with expensive cars and expensive private schools. How is Ruby supposed to live in this foreign place with the sister who left her? They are like strangers now. Her other life may have been lonely and desperate, but it was familiar and comfortable. Maybe Ruby would be better off going back to that life.

Review


I must confess, I’ve never read a Sarah Dessen book before. She’s wildly popular, but I just hadn’t tried one. A former student said this was her favorite, and I decided to give it a try on her recommendation.

I really enjoyed it. It felt familiar in some ways – the teen pulled out of her unhealthy yet familiar surroundings, struggling against a safe yet foreign new way of living. But I loved the configuration of family and friends – and circumstances – that led Ruby to eventually give this new life a chance. The road isn’t easy. New challenges and revelations push Ruby to see herself and her life from new angles. This is so well done.

Definitely for teens with language and substance abuse as well as child abuse and neglect. This was so well done. I would definitely read more Sarah Dessen books after enjoying this one.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Murder for the Books

REVIEW: A Murder for the Books by Victoria Gilbert

Summary


Amy is the head librarian at the Blue Ridge Library. She lives with her Aunt Lydia, having left her job as an academic librarian when she caught her boyfriend cheating on her.

In general, the small town librarian life gives Amy no more excitement than a patron asking her opinion on what poison to use in the mystery she is writing. But that’s before she meets Richard -and before she finds the dead body.

Richard is her new neighbor. He’s inherited a house with a history that he wants to research. And the library is the best place for that. In the 1920s, the owner of the house died, and his wife was accused of his murder.

But when Richard and Amy head to the archives to pull some old documents, they find a lot more than newspapers. The body of an elderly patron is there. Suddenly there are two mysteries – the 1925 one, and now this one, too.

Review


This mystery was excellent! In the end, there are actually THREE mysteries, each in a different period of time, that converge together. I found that really satisfying, although I did have to take notes for awhile to keep track of all the people and pieces. So many mysteries in one book! I was able to figure out one and a half of them, and I liked that. I deduced some of the story but not all of it, which  kept me guessing. What a great reading experience this was!

This is the first book in the  new Blue Ridge Library Mystery series. The characters – as well as the great plotting – will bring me back for more. Amy is terrific – smart, determined, and likable. She and Richard have terrific chemistry. I love that he is not in law enforcement, something you find a lot in cozy mysteries (he is a choreographer and a dancer). He also supports Amy in her research and sleuthing.

I’m already looking forward to the next book. There are some intriguing hints in this one about possible future plots – a new job for Amy’s best friend, and a mysterious and secretive character who may be up to no good. I highly recommend this to mystery fans. Put this  on your watch list, too. If you are like me, you won’t want to miss any books in the series. Book 2, Shelved Under Murder is currently scheduled to release in July of 2018.

Thanks to Netgalley and Crooked Lane Books for the opportunity to read an electronic review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. It was a joy to read!

Rating: ♥♥♥♥½