Rogue One Graphic Novel

BOOK NEWS: December 12, 2017

Lots of Star Wars books coming our way this week, with the movie release only a few days away. Let’s take a look:

Books for Kids


 

Chewie and the Porgs – I can’t find much of a description for this one, but it looks adorable. I’m curious to see these Porgs in the movie and find out more about them.
The Superstar Story of the Harlem Globetrotters – I love the History of Fun Stuff (and Science of Fun Stuff) line of early readers. They are fantastic for young kids who are skilled readers. Also great for adults to read to curious kids. This particular one focuses on the Harlem Globtrotters.
The Fantastic and Terrible Fame of Classroom 13 – Book 3 in the Classroom 13 series. This time, the kids have a chance to be FAMOUS! But some things are just too good to be true. This sounds like a fun series for new chapter book readers.
Gimme Shelter – Book 5 in the hilarious Chicken Squad series. This quirky group of chicks is back, this time they are trying to build a storm shelter, but they find some unusual things along the way.

Books for Older Kids/Teens/Young Adults


Star Wars Cobalt Squadron – A new Last Jedi story for teens
Star Wars Rogue One Graphic Novel – The story of Rogue One in graphic novel form.
Star Wars The Last Jedi Cross-Sections – Take a closer look at the shops of The Last Jedi

Books for Adults


Bloodstains with Brontë – Book 2 in the Crimes with Classics series, after Arsenic with Austen (which was terrific!). This time, Emily is reading Brontë and finding parallels with the murder case in their midst. I loved the first book so much, this is at the top of my list for this week.
Case of Syrah Syrah – First in a new Wine Country mystery series starring a woman who runs a new business touring area wineries. When the leader of her latest tour group is found murdered, Taylor is a suspect. And the bodies continue to fall. I love trying out brand new mystery series. Looking forward to trying this one.
Ginger Snapped – Book 5 in the Spice Shop mystery series. Piper is prompted to action when local law enforcement – who has become a friend over the years – is suspected of murder.
Murder for the Books – First in the new Blue Ridge Library mystery series. This is an EXCELLENT book with several layers of mystery going on at once. I’ll be reviewing this one Wednesday. Be sure to check this one out.
Trouble with Murder – First in a new series. Trouble the cat is a big help to Colbie when she is suspected of the murder of the leader of the Sunnyside Power Moms. This was great, too. I’ll be reviewing this one next week.
Unnatural Causes – A doctor’s patient commits suicide  with a prescription – one the doctor doesn’t remember writing. Then the suicide is deemed a murder. First in a new series. Sounds like a great mystery.
Art of Star Was The Last Jedi – Coffee table book of the art of the latest Star Wars film.
This Child of Faith: Raising a Spiritual Child in a Secular World (Dec 14) –  Written along with a student who was in third grade at Sandy Hook on the day of the shooting. This releases on the 5th anniversary of the tragedy.
Healthy Meal Prep: Time-saving Plans to Prep And Portion Your Weekly Meals – Includes 12 weekly meal plans as well as how to prep for them and save yourself time.

In 27 Days

REVIEW: In 27 Days by Alison Gervais

Summary


Hadley is stunned to hear that Archer Morales committed suicide. They had had a class together two years ago as freshmen. He’d been quiet. Hadley remembered the annoyed look he always gave her in class. He was something of an outcast at school. And now he was gone.

After the funeral, Hadley meets Death who offers her a unique opportunity. Hadley can go back in time 27 days and try to keep Archer from taking his own life. There are no guarantees it will work. And it’s likely to be a lot harder than Hadley can even imagine. But how can she not try?! So Hadley signs Death’s “contract,” and finds herself 27 days in the past.

Archer is quiet and withdrawn for a reason. Hadley is going to have to figure out a way through his defenses if she’s going to have any chance to make a difference. And her days are zooming by.

Review


I was engrossed from page one. The premise was so clever, it hooked me from the beginning. When I got to know more about earnest and hopeful yet lonely Hadley and withdrawn, angry and protective Archer, I couldn’t put the book down. Not only did I want Hadley’s 27-day mission to succeed but I wanted so much more for both of these characters.

There are “forces” at work against Hadley, an evil force that insists that some tragedy must happen, someone must die. Some sort of trade off will have to take place if Archer ends up not dying. This part of the story was an odd twist for me, and I’m not sure how I feel about how that section and plot point played out. But everything else was perfect. I adored these characters and would absolutely read this again in order to spend more time with Hadley and Archer!

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Twelve Slays of Christmas

REVIEWS: 2017 Christmas Books

I had something else scheduled for review today, but it didn’t work out, so I am going to plug in a few short reviews of some of the 2017 Christmas books I have been able to read this season. I hope you will find something here you like!

How the Finch Stole Christmas – The Christmas production of A Christmas Carol is headed off the rails thanks to a diva-level actor with a drinking problem. A dead body is not exactly what Meg and friends need on top of the production stress! This is book 22 in the Meg Langslow series, one of my favorite cozy series. I love that no matter how many books there are in the series, the stories and the characters stay strong and enjoyable. The mystery in this one was great. And Meg is one of my favorite protagonists of all time. Rating: ♥♥♥♥

 

Merry and Bright – The latest from Debbie Macomber focuses on a young woman whose family sets her up for an online dating service. Her best match turns out to the be last person she wanted it to be.  I really enjoyed this one! The plot is pretty simple and You’ve Got Mail-esque, but the characters are fantastic and really made this a fun holiday read.  This would make a darling Hallmark Christmas movie. Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

 

 

Holly and Ivy – A lonely widow meets a young girl with a great gift in this holiday story. For me, this story suffered from an unsympathetic character right from the beginning. I almost gave up on finishing this one. I pressed through the unpleasant character and things finally started to turn around about half-way through. The ending was great and made me glad I kept with it. Rating: ♥♥♥

 

 

Twelve Slays of Christmas – The first book in a Christmas Tree farm mystery series. A young woman heads home to Mistletoe, Maine after her Christmas Eve wedding is cancelled. Maybe some time at home, celebrating the holiday with family on the farm will be just what she needs. She certainly does NOT need a dead body or for her family and friends to be suspected murderers. This was a delight from start to finish! The setting was perfect – I loved the holiday activities the family does around the farm for Christmas. The characters were a lot of fun – the “voice” was great and there was humor and romance as well as a solid mystery. This is a series I will be following faithfully! Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

 

Sugar Pine Trail – A librarian finds herself taking care of two young boys at Christmas time. And her handsome neighbor pitches in. This is the 7th book in the Haven Point series, but I’m not sure the books are necessarily interconnected, except for the setting. This was so fantastic, though, I have added the rest of the series to my library wish list so I can check out all the rest of the books. The characters in this were spectacular. I loved the foster care angle, and the author did a great job of portraying that pretty realistically. The love story was terrific. Great romance to put you in the holiday spirit. Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

365 Encouraging Verses

REVIEW: 365 Encouraging Verse of the Bible for Boys/Girls by Jean Fischer

These new devotional books for kids have released this week, just in time for holiday gifting. These are written in an everyday, comfortable language for kids. Each entry includes a Bible verse, the devotional thought, and a prayer. The devotional thoughts focus on giving context to the verse, interpreting it, or applying it to every day life. There’s a mix of Old and New Testament verses, as well as a mix of familiar passages and less common ones.

There’s no apparent structure to the layout of the verses; they don’t go in Biblical order or follow a discernible set of themes or have dates assigned. Readers can start day one whenever they like. There is a scripture index in the back if readers want to see if a favorite passage is in there. There is also no difference between the girls’ and boys’ version except for the cover. The devotions are laid out in the exact same order. Therefore, if you have a boy and a girl who are going through the book together with family or friends, everyone can literally be on the same page from start to finish.

I think this would work for readers from age 8 through early middle school. Younger readers may need support with the text, but the content is appropriate for their age. Older readers may want something deeper and more challenging.

Thanks to the folks at Barbour Books and Netgalley for the opportunity to review an electronic review copy of the devotionals in exchange for an honest review! I think this would make a good Christmas gift for the kids in your life.

Rating: ♥♥♥

Little Leaders

BOOK NEWS: December 5, 2017

2017 is whizzing by! Christmas will be here before you know it. Remember, you can see my book recommendations for everyone on your shopping list here.

Here are some of the books releasing this week that you may want to add to your personal wish list

Books for Kids


 

Mouseling’s Words – A mouse finds his purpose in life – discovering new words! And the library is a great place for him to work on his mission. This looks adorable!
The Very Very Very Long Dog – Look at that face! The cover art of this is adorable. I’ll be reviewing this one next week.
Pug vs Pug – Book 6 in the Puppy Pirates series.
Super Turbo and the Fire-breathing Dragon – The school pets are afraid the latest arrival is a fire-breathing dragon! Book 5 in this cute early chapter book series.

Books for Older Kids/Teens/Young Adults


League of Archers: The Stolen Crown – Book 2 in this series about a girl who gathers her League of Archers to continue the work of Robin Hood after his murder. I have book one on my TBR. Looking forward to reading both books!
Pollyanna – The classic story of Pollyanna, with new illustrations by Kate Hindley. The cover art is what caught my attention for this one. If you want to introduce this story to young readers, this looks like a great way to do that, with appealing artwork.
Little Leaders – An illustrated book of black women who have impacted American History. This  looks spectacular, and it has lots of positive reviews. Looking forward to reading this one.
Who Was Chuck Jones? – Biography of the animator for Bugs Bunny and friends
Who Was Coretta Scott King? – Biography of Civil Rights leader, Coretta Scott King, the wife of Martin Luther King Jr.
Who Was Jane Austen?– Biography of the author of Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice.
Ever the Brave – Book 2 in the Clash of Kingdoms, a series about a girl’s battles through various kingdoms and plots as she searches for the person responsible for her father’s death. I have book one on my TBR shelves. Looking forward to catching up on this series, too.
I Am Groot – Graphic novel collecting issues 1-5 of this series where little Groot is on his own, cut off from the rest of the Guardians.
Instructions for a Secondhand Heart – A boy looks for answers after a heart transplant, and he finds the twin sister of the heart donor. I’m sure this will be emotional, but it sounds terrific.
Ten Frames Per Second – Think about this one for the quirky teen – or adult –  in your life who loves clever, pop culture gifts!
Total Devotion – Devotional for teens

Books for Adults


And Death Goes To – Book 3 of the Tobi Tobias series about an advertising agent. This time, when the winner of an advertising award drops dead, Tobi works to find the murderer. I have read several of the author’s other books, but I haven’t tried this series – yet.
Bel Book and Scandal – Book 3 in the Bel McGrath series. This time, Bel looks into the cold case disappearance of her friend, Amy. This is another series I haven’t gotten to yet, but I’d like to try this one. I love this sort of mystery.
Canto Bight – Part of the Journey to The Last Jedi series of Star Wars materials. Takes place in the casino city of Canto Bight. This book includes 4 stories set in the city.
Comic Sans Murder – Book 3 in the Dangerous Type Mystery series centered around a typewriter and book repair shop. In this story, a horror writer is in town and the gang stumbles on a gruesome death. I have the first book in this series on my TBR shelves. I think 2018 may need to be my “catch up” year!
Crime of Poison – Book 3 in the Silver Six Crafting Mystery series about a crafty group of retirees. I love the whole premise of this series! This is on the top of my mystery list.
Honey-Baked Homicide – Book 3 in the Down South Cafe Mystery series about a cafe owner, selling Southern comfort food and favorites. I enjoyed the first book in the series. In this book, a beekeeper is murdered and Amy is determined to find the culprit.
Live and Let Fly – Book 2 in the Kite Shop Mystery series about an Oregon shop owner. In this book, Emmy is a suspect in the death of a reality-TV star. I have book one on my TBR shelves.
The Art of Star Trek: The Kelvin Timeline – This coffee table book is on the top of my Christmas wish list! I love all things Star Trek, and I can’t wait to see this Art of book in person.
Hand Lettering 201 – An Intermediate lettering instruction book by Chalkfulloflove. I put the first book on my Christmas list; I’m always looking for ways to improve my crummy handwriting.
Hello Mornings: How to Build a Grace-Filled, Life-Giving Morning Routine  – This book introduces a “powerful” three-minute morning routine to start your day right, with Bible study, planning and fitness. I am curious to see if this can deliver what it promises. I’ve put this on my library list.

Enjoying Jesus

SATURDAY SMORGASBORD: Spiritual Growth Resources from 2017

I have had fantastic luck this year finding terrific spiritual growth resources. I wanted to highlight a handful of them here today. These would make great Christmas gifts.

Draw the Circle – A 40-day prayer challenge. This was inspiring! I would have preferred to read it cover to cover because I enjoyed the writing so much, but I’m so glad I took it one day at a time.

Enjoying Jesus – This study on spiritual disciples from the folks at IF: Equip was exceptional. I completed the study with the folks at IF, and I enjoyed the videos that went along with the study. I have tried a lot of studies this year, trying to replicate the experience I had completing this study.

Enough – I chose “enough” as my word for 2017. Our pastor’s wife posted about this study  on Facebook, and as soon as I saw the title, I knew I had to try the study. It was excellent. I felt like I was able to split the sessions into polite-sized chunks to cover a portion each day and really dig into the material. I wanted to go deeper, not just check something off a list. I have a second study by these same folks waiting on my shelf for 2018.

Nothing to Prove – I read this with a group that was meeting each week on Facebook with the author. It was a timely book, working with my word for the year, “enough.” And I have purchased the Bible study that goes with this so I can spend more time with the material in 2018. You can read my review of the book here.

She’s Still There – Proverbs 31 hosted a study of this book that included videos and conference calls. The entire experience was excellent! I grew so much from working through this book. I’ll be reviewing this in 2018.

The Wellness Revelation – This may be the resource that impacted me most this year. This 8-week journey toward lifestyle change and pursuing wholeness was like a breath of fresh air. I’ll also be reviewing this in 2018. I highly recommend this book!

Lois Lane Triple Threat May1

REVIEW: Lois Lane Triple Threat by Gwenda Bond

Summary


So far, Lois Lane has taken down two criminals. One was experimenting on kids and turning them into a single-minded weapon, and the other experimented on a friend’s sister to frame the mayor and shake things up in Metropolis.

Now Lois is itching for a new story – and just in time as a group of super-powered kids have been sighted around Metropolis. So far they’re just a spectacle, but they seem to be targeting Lois.

As if this case isn’t enough to keep her occupied, things are heating up with SmallvilleGuy and the “flying man” situation. SmallvilleGuy is coming to Metropolis to meet Lois face-to-face. Lois’ dad, the general, is off to Smallville to look for information on the flying man. And the general’s information seems to be coming from The Inventor. SmallvilleGuy might trust The Inventor, but Lois isn’t convinced he’s really on their side.

It all comes together in this exciting third book in the Lois Lane series.

Review


I have thoroughly enjoyed this series by Gwenda Bond. I’m not a huge DC Comics fan, but the books I have been reading – Superhero High and this series, are starting to change that for me.

I have enjoyed the characters even more than the mysteries in this series, and that’s especially true for this book. On it’s own, the mystery in this was a slow start and a quick finish. I had some unanswered questions at the end. Maybe those things were left open in case the publisher decides to add to the series later (I hope so!! The author said on Twitter this summer that there are no plans at this time for more books in the series. It’s too bad. I would snap up more if she wrote them!)

But the character pieces, especially the Lois and SmallvilleGuy parts in this particular story are excellent. Their time face-to-face was a perfect culmination of the lead up in the previous books. We don’t get as much time with the other kids at The Scoop in this one, which I missed. But the pieces with The Inventor were a nice addition. Lots of open-ended issues with that character, too, which would make for awesome future stories (hint, hint, Capstone Press!)

I have loved this whole series. I highly recommend it for strong storytelling; excellent, nuanced characters; and clean adventures for teen readers.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

The Innocent

REVIEW: The Innocent by David Baldacci

Summary


Will Robie is a government assassin. When he gets an assignment, he’ll travel anywhere in the world to take out the bad guys. His usual targets are terrorists and mass murderers. But on his latest assignment, he finds himself looking into the eyes of his target… and he can’t go through with it. Something about this hit just isn’t right.

A young girl sneaks out of her horrible foster home to go see her parents. She gets home in time to see her father killed. When her mother tells her to run, the girl takes off, certain that she will never see her parents alive again.

The two meet when Will saves the girl from being killed on a bus to New York. When the bus later explodes, Will feels responsible for keeping the girl safe. But they are both on the run and don’t know who they can trust. Are the two situations connected? The body count rises quickly while Will tries to puzzle out the truth. Can he figure it out in time to save them both?

Review


This book was part of our family’s summer reading challenge. My husband recommended this to me, and I really enjoyed it. This is the second Baldacci book he has had me read. The mysteries are great although the deaths tend to be more plentiful and more graphic than my usual cozy mysteries.

I wasn’t sure I would be able to get past the main character’s profession in order to enjoy this book. It took several chapters to get past the idea that he kills people for a living. Bad people, to be sure, but without due process – and maybe without knowing the whole story. But Will’s protectiveness of the girl, Julie, endeared him to be. From there, I didn’t put the book down until the last page. I was able to get close to solving the mystery myself, but not all of it, and I was guessing on parts all the way to the end. I would definitely read more Will Robie books in the future. (language, violence)

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Rookie of the Year

REVIEW: Rookie of the Year by Phil Bildner

Summary


Rip and Red are back with basketball on their minds. They’re ready for another round of fall basketball. But things have changed since their last season.

First, there’s a new girl in Mr. Acevedo’s class. Tiki’s family has moved a LOT. She’s quirky and has a BIG personality. And she’s amazing on the basketball court. She stirs up a lot of competitive and jealous feelings in Rip.

Second, the kids are OVER the awful changes in the school cafeteria. They miss the Lunch Bunch, an awesome group of lunch ladies who truly loved the kids and made a difference throughout the school. And they miss having something edible to buy for lunch!

Third, Red is becoming more comfortable with his classmates. He copes better with physical contact, and even starts joking with the other kids.

All of these changes come together to make a great school story starring Rip and Red.

Review


I thoroughly enjoy the kids at the center of this series. Red is endearing. I think the author does a great job of portraying him in a kind and accurate way. And I love how cued in Rip is to Red’s habits and facial expressions. It feels realistic that sometimes he responds to those cues and sometimes he doesn’t. He’s still a kid.

The adults in the book – specifically Mr. Acevedo and Rip’s mom – work hard to teach when they correct kids. They don’t talk down to the kids; their expectations are reasonably high.

This would make a great family or classroom read aloud. Rip struggles with his place on the basketball team in this, and I think there are lots of things kids can learn as they read about Rip. There’s also lots to discuss about Red’s place in the group, and making accommodations to include everyone at school. There’s also lots to discuss about how to pursue change when you have a complaint. And the author uses tons of great examples of “show, don’t tell” for kids learning to write.

Book 3, Tournament of Champions, came out earlier this summer.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Plot is Murder

BOOK NEWS: November 28, 2017

I hope your Thanksgiving holiday was restful and meaningful for each of you. Remember, you can check out my 2017 Holiday Hint List here for some book ideas for your holiday gift-giving.

This is another small release week, at least for my wish list. Enjoy this look at some new books releasing this week.

Books for Kids


The Crystal Caverns – Book 2 in The Last Firehawk series, a Branches series for new chapter book readers. You are probably tired of hearing about how much I love Branches books for this age group. But it is still true!
365 Encouraging Verses of the Bible for Boys/Girls (releasing December 1st) – A devotional book for kids. I’ll be reviewing these next week. I will tell you now that the content is the same in both books, so a family with boys and girls could use the books together.

Books for Teens/Young Adults


The Chaos of Standing Still – A teen carries one unread text on her phone – the last from her dead best friend – until she accidentally swaps phone with a guy at the airport. This sounds FANTASTIC! This is at the top of my list for the week.

Books for Adults


Ditched 4 Murder – Book 2 in the Sophie Kimball mystery series about a young woman who has moved closer to her mother’s retirement community in Arizona and stumbles onto a murder. This sounds like a fun series in one of my favorite settings. Looking forward to reading these.
Etched in Tears – Book 4 in the Webb’s Glass Shop Mystery series about the murder of a glass artist. I have this series on my wish list. The premise – with the glass work – sounds fascinating.
Hark the Herald Angels Slay – Book 3 in the Year-Round Christmas Mystery series. In this book, the main character’s ex is found dead. Merry will have to track down another killer in order to get her summer grove back. I have enjoyed this series, and I’m looking forward to seeing what summer is like in Rudolph. You can read my review of book two here.
Of Murder and Men – Book 3 in the Cat Latimer Mystery series about a writer’s retreat. I am a book behind on this one, but you can read my review of book one here.
The Plot Is Murder – First in a new series that takes place at a mystery bookstore. As the shop owner is plotting out her own cozy mystery story, murder shows up in her real life, too. Sign me up for this one!
X Marks the Scot – Book 11 in the Liss MacCrimmon mystery series about an art purchase that hides an old treasure map and leads to a dead body. I’m not familiar with this series, but the plot of this is intriguing.
Star Trek Prometheus Fire with Fire – This looks like the first in a new series from the folks at Star Trek, focused on the U. S. S. Prometheus. I’m curious about this one as it does not have any long-term connection to a TV series (that I know of before reading it). I wonder how it will do without a stable of familiar characters.
Star Trek Titan Fortune of War – Book 10 in the Titan series. Titan is the ship under the command of William T. Riker from ST: The Next Generation. I am several books behind on this series, but I have enjoyed it from the beginning and have the remaining books on my TBR shelves.
Star Trek Waypoint Graphic Novel – This contains issues 1-6 from the Waypoint comic book line. While I collect one line of Star Trek comics, this is not one I am familiar with. I’d like to check this one out. It includes short stories set in the universes of all of the Star Trek traditional TV programs (TOS, TNG, DS9, Voyager and Enterprise)
The Art of Brush Lettering – I am completely fascinated by lovely, fancy handwriting. Probably because mine is abysmal. I would love to learn to do gorgeous work like this. I follow the artist/author, Kelly Klapstein on Instagram. I’m eager to see this in person to see if I would have any hope of learning brush lettering from this book.