Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Book Report: Three Things I Know Are True by Betty Culley

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Three Things I Know Are True

Written by Betty Culley

HarperTeen, 2020

 

Two best friends. A single shot. A family broken.

These words on the book jacket perfectly set the scene for Three Things I Know Are True.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this debut YA novel by Betty Culley. Thank you, KidLit411  and Betty Culley, for sending me a copy!

***Spoiler Alert

Three Things I Know Are True is the tale of (as mentioned above), friends, a loaded gun, and two families broken. The story, written with brilliant and spare words, packs this emotionally charged tale about dealing the the aftermath of an accidental shooting. Liv, the younger sister of the victim, tells the story through her viewpoint. I absolutely love how she processes and reacts to the situation. Raw, honest, painful, witty, flawed. All of the good things. And I say two families are broken, because Liv’s family and the family who owned the weapon are both torn apart by a tragic event.

Why I Love This Book:

~ Raw, honest, emotional (you will be amazed, cry, admire, and appreciate the reality of living with tragedy)

~ Brilliant writing (the book looks huge, but it’s not; I stayed up well past my bedtime to read it)

~ I CARED about the characters in the book and what happened next

~ The pain and conflict in the book are phenomenal; it’s full of emotional landmines!

~ I love the Three Things I know Are True game

~ Hope and acceptance in difficult circumstances

~ Friendship and romance

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Amazon Blurb:

Fans of Jandy Nelson and Marieke Nijkamp will love this deeply moving novel in verse about the aftermath of a gun accident.

Life changes forever for Liv when her older brother, Jonah, accidentally shoots himself with his best friend Clay’s father’s gun. Now Jonah needs round-the-clock care just to stay alive, and Liv feels like she’s the only person who can see that her brother is still there inside his broken body.

With Liv’s mom suing Clay’s family, there are divisions in the community that Liv knows she’s not supposed to cross. But Clay is her friend, too, and she refuses to turn away from him—just like she refuses to give up on Jonah.

This powerful novel is a stunning exploration of tragedy, grief, compassion, and forgiveness.


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Book Report: JELLY by Jo Cotterill #BookBirthday

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Jelly

Written by Jo Cotterill

Yellow Jacket (an imprint of Little Bee Books); January 7, 2020

 

Happy Book Birthday, Jelly!

I LOVE Jelly! This is a great story about a large girl who figures out how to cope with rude comments about her size. Humor and excellent impressions of others keeps everyone laughing, but deep in her heart, she hides her true feelings. This is also a coming of age story. I loved the writing, the setting, the poetry (!!!), and the music. Not everyone has to fit in the same package or do the same things to belong. Honesty with family and friends is worth the risk. I love the way school, friendship, and home life is all tied up in one exciting bunch. Excellent read!

Thank you, Yellow Jacket, for the Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of Jelly to review.

As an adult who struggled with being the chubby kid at school, Jelly resonated with both my younger and more mature self.

 

Why I LOVE This Book:

~ The personality of Jelly is fantastic. This is someone I would love to meet in real life. Her story rings true.

~ The struggle with being overweight and how Jelly is treated by others is sadly life-like. Bullies are everywhere and Jelly learns how to deal with mean comments by reacting with humor. But beneath it all, she is hurt and is hiding her true self.

~ The courage and honesty of Jelly as she changes how she interacts with others and shares her real feelings is refreshing.

~ I love that Jelly writes in her journal to process life. I love the way she expresses herself through poetry.

~ Fantastic friendship, family, and school dynamics

~ The story!

~ I really enjoyed Jelly. Readers will see themselves in the many characters and hopefully learn to treat others kindly, no matter what size.

Happy Book Birthday, Jelly!

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Amazon Blurb:

Twelve-year-old Jelly hides her true self behind her humor and keeps her true thoughts and feelings locked away in a notebook. Can she find the courage to share who she really is?

Angelica (Jelly for short) is the queen of comedy at school. She has a personality as big as she is, and everyone loves her impressions. But Jelly isn’t as confident as she pretends to be. No one knows her deepest thoughts and feelings. She keeps those hidden away in a secret notebook.

Then her mom’s new boyfriend, Lennon, arrives. He’s kind and perceptive, and he is the first person to realize that Jelly is playing a part. Jelly shares her poetry with him and he convinces her to perform one of her poems as a song at the school talent show. Can Jelly risk letting people see the real her? What if it all goes wrong?

  • Age Range: 10 – 14 years
  • Grade Level: 4 – 9

 


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Book Report: The Memory Keeper by Jennifer Camiccia

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The Memory Keeper

Written by Jennifer Camiccia

Aladdin, An imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division; 2019

 

I received a copy of The Memory Keeper through Natalie Aguirre’s blog Literary Rambles. Thank you, Natalie and Jennifer!

I enjoyed reading The Memory Keeper. The cover is very attractive and captured my attention while also giving me a place of setting. The characters are really fun and engaging. I learned SOOOO much about brains in this book. Do not be turned off by that statement. This is a far cry from medical descriptions of brain information. Jennifer expertly wove brain facts into the story. Each chapter begins with a new bit of information relevant to that chapter, and then off we go!

The story of Lulu, a young girl with HSAM (Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory) and her grandmother, who might be beginning to suffer from dementia OR memory-related stress incidents, is a great read.

Why I Loved This Book:

~ The characters are fantastic.

~ I learned so much about brain science (in a fun, non-textbook sort of way).

~ Mystery, danger, intrigue!

~ I liked the friendship factor.

~ Dysfunctional family. Who doesn’t have one of those?

~ I enjoyed the history and inter-generational relationships.

~ The problem-solving and hidden secrets really upped the story intrigue.

~ Excellent writing and story telling.

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Amazon Blurb:

Fish in a Tree meets The Thing About Jellyfish in this heartfelt middle grade debut about long-buried secrets, the power of memory, and the bond between a girl and her gram.

All Lulu Carter wants is to be seen. But her parents are lost in their own worlds, and Lulu has learned the hard way that having something as rare as HSAM—the ability to remember almost every single moment in her life—won’t make you popular in school.

At least Lulu has Gram, who knows the truth about Lulu’s memory and loves her all the more for it. But Gram has started becoming absentminded, and the more lost she gets, the more she depends on Lulu…until Lulu realizes her memory holds the very key to fixing Gram’s forgetfulness. Once Lulu learns that trauma can cause amnesia, all she needs to do to cure Gram is hunt down that one painful moment in Gram’s life.

With her friends Olivia and Max, Lulu digs into Gram’s mysterious past. But they soon realize some secrets should stay buried, and Lulu wonders if she ever knew Gram at all. It’s up to Lulu to uncover the truth before the only person who truly sees her slips away.

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I hope you enjoy The Memory Keeper. Great read!

 

 

 


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Thanks so much, Sally, for sharing my review of Winter Cats by Janet Lawler. We all appreciate your willingness to find and share great information!

Head on over to Sally’s blog to read her blog lineup. Happy reading!

via Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – Thursday December 12th 2019 – #Storycontest Stevie Turner, #FlashFiction Charli Mills Carrot Ranch, #Bookreview Angie Quantrell.

You can meet Sally here.


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Book Report: All Colors by Amalia Hoffman and Book Winner

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First, congratulations are in order to announce the winner of Baby’s First Nativity by Nomar Perez (Little Bee Books).

The winner is: Melissa!

Watch your mailbox, Melissa. I hope you enjoy this adorable Christmas board book. Merry Christmas!

And now, on to the book report.

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All Colors

Written and illustrated by Amalia Hoffman

Schiffer Publishing, 2019

 

I won a copy of All Colors from Kathy Tremean’s blog Writing and Illustrating and Amalia Hoffman. You can read more about Amalia Hoffman here. Thank you to Kathy and Amalia!

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Why I Love This Book:

~ The colors! I’ve seen colors represented in books many times, but usually the colors are introduced on a white background. It’s very interesting to see them on black.

~ The friendship theme (spoiler alert). We need books about being friends with others even if they are different than we are.

~ The board book. This is one durable book. Nice and sturdy for lots of use.

~ Kid-friendly. I read this one to my two youngest grands, and one immediately said, “Again!”

~ The art approach. I know this book can be used to help young readers feel confident in drawing pictures (instead of just coloring them). Each step is easy to replicate, no matter the age.

Amazon Blurb:

This board book introduces children to colors, textures, and parts of the body while conveying a message about friendship, celebrating diversity, and inclusion. As the reader turns the pages, colors are added one by one, creating the image of a boy. Different strokes and textures make up each body part, and at the end the boy joins his friends, all made of different combinations. All Colors shows that all people are made up of the same pieces, yet are all unique and full of color!

 

Thanks for stopping by. Have a great day!

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Need a fun board book that teaches colors AND how to draw a simple person? Check out ALL COLORS by Amalia Hoffman. #boardbooks #picturebooks #kidlit

Click to tweet! Thank you!

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Author/Illustrator Interview PLUS Giveaway: Meet Nomar Perez

Welcome! I’m excited to introduce you to Nomar Perez. Thanks to Vivian Kirkfield, I was sent a copy of Baby’s First Nativity by Nomar Perez. After reading this adorable board book, I reached out to Anna Howland of Little Bee Books and she connected me with Nomar. Thank you, Anna, Paul Crichton, and Little Bee Books.

Without further ado, here’s Nomar Perez! Be sure to read to the end and find out how to get your name in the hat for a drawing to win a copy of Baby’s First Nativity.

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Baby’s First Nativity

Illustrated by Nomar Perez

Little Bee Books, 2019

1. I was delighted to receive a copy of Baby’s First Nativity (September 17, 2019) from Little Bee Books. I love the colors of the illustrations and the patterns you’ve chosen to use to add texture. When were you asked to illustrate this adorable board book? How did you connect with Little Bee Books?

I was approached to work on the Baby’s First Nativity board in September of last year.  Little Bee connected with my agent to have me work on this and another board book. It has been a delightful project to work on. Especially being such wonderful story that I grew up listening to it.  Also is a very special story that I truly value during the Christmas time.

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2. Tell us about the process you used to illustrate Baby’s First Nativity.

The process was pretty simple. I was giving some style and technique direction. This was a bit of a change in style that I normally work on. The process starts with sketching lots of ideas of how the characters will look like. Once the publisher and me feel we are in the right direction on look and style. I begin to put together the rest of the animals, characters, and scenes.  I was delighted to create something new and different from what I’m use to doing.

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3. What is your favorite part of illustrating picture books?

I enjoy the entire process of creating a book, but my favorite part is when I have all my sketches finalize and I start to paint and add color. This is really exciting because you start to see the book in such a wonderful new way.

4. Tell us a little about your background. What was your path to becoming an illustrator?

I’m originally from Puerto Rico. I came to the United States at the age of 10. I’ve always love to draw and paint. I still remember drawing in my notebooks from school.  Once here in the USA I went to school for Computer Animation and Digital Art. After college I was given the opportunity to work at a wonderful company called American Greetings. I’ve been working as an Illustrator for over 17 years as a Senior Illustrator and as a Freelance illustrator.

5. What other illustration projects are you working on?

Currently, I work on a variety of school publishing work. But one thing that I am most excited about is a book I’m currently writing and illustrating called “Coqui in the City” this will be my first book as an Author and Illustrator. It will be a semi-autobiographical children’s book of my experiences coming from Puerto Rico to America.

6. Fantastic news! Does Coqui in the City have a book birthday yet? Have you completed any illustrations?

The release of the book will be the fall of next year. Here is a sneak peek at what I’ve been working on. 

Congratulations, Nomar! I look forward to reading Coqui in the City. Thank you for visiting with us today and sharing your journey. Best wishes as you continue to illustrate and write.

 

About Nomar Perez

Nomar Perez was born on the beautiful island of Puerto Rico, where he grew up in the city of Ponce, a unique city with new and Old Spanish colonial architecture and an amazing array of colors, sounds, and flavors. These aspects of his Puerto Rican culture have influenced Nomar throughout his artistic life. After leaving his homeland at the age of 10 for the U.S., Nomar found himself in touch with all types of media, including animation, puppetry, and computer art. He studied computer animation and painting at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, and since then has worked as an illustrator and designer on humor, kids, and young adult products for over 17 years in the social expressions market. Nomar has had the opportunity to work on a variety of children books including both educational and mainstream markets.

 

You can connect with Nomar here:

Nomar Perez

Instagram

Painted-Words Portfolio

GIVEAWAY!!!

Thanks to Little Bee Books for sending a giveaway copy of Baby’s First Nativity.

To enter the giveaway, comment on this blog and tell me the name of your favorite Christmas picture book.

A winner will be chosen on Friday, December 6. This giveaway is open to residents of the United States.

 

 

 

 


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Giveaway Winner and Upcoming Author Interview

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Congratulations, Melissa!

I’ll be sending you a copy of the October Missions Mosaic magazine. Watch that mail box. Thanks for commenting and checking in on my blog. 😉

This weekend, Friday and Saturday, Vivian Kirkfield will be my featured author. On Friday, I will post a Book Report about her new book Making Their Voices Heard, The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe (Little Bee Books, January 14, 2020). On Saturday, I’ll share an interview with Vivian where she’ll talk about her new book and her writing life. We’d love to see you as we celebrate Vivian’s new book and Universal Music Day (since her new book is about musical friends).

See you Friday and Saturday!

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Book Report: Pauses for the Vacationing Soul, A Sensory-Based Devotion Guide for the Beach

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Pauses for the Vacationing Soul, A Sensory-Based Devotion Guide for the Beach

Written by Cathy Baker

http://www.cathybaker.org, 2017

 

I was recently gifted Pauses for the Vacationing Soul, A Sensory-Based Devotion Guide for the Beach by the amazing Cathy Baker. Ok, by recently I mean…a bit ago. But I digress.

I started reading this adorable little devotional guide, again, a bit ago. Then I realized it would be the perfect special devotional guide to take with me on my week-long writing residency at Holly House (Hypatia-in-the-Woods). So I tucked it in my growing stack of things to take with me on my residency.

It turns out I was correct. This little gem was just the right length and focus for my week near several beaches in the Shelton, Washington, area. I loved reading the entry for each morning and reflecting on God’s beauty, vacation (though I was on a residency), relaxing, and resting. I especially enjoyed Cathy’s inclusion of travel days and coming back to reality after vacation.

Cathy has a sweet spirit, which is very obvious when you read her book or her newsletters. I first discovered Cathy when I bumped into one of her posts. Her site has a picture of the cutest Tiny House on the Hill. My honey and I want to build a tiny house, so I latched right on to her site. Cathy and her husband are working on her writing studio/retreat tiny house. I’ve loved watching each step they take as they add to the tiny house. I can’t wait to see it when it’s finished.

If you are heading out for a week away, or are still looking forward to vacation, consider reading Pauses for the Vacationing Soul, A Sensory-Based Devotion Guide for the Beach by Cathy Baker. Check out her web site at CathyBaker.org.

Thank you, Cathy, for the gift of a book that added just the right touch to my writing residency. Be blessed!

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Bird Sighting: 2 Pileated Woodpeckers & Haiku Moment

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red crest, heavy head

hop, skittle, scrape, taste, chitter;

wary woodpeckers

 

pileated woodpeckers by Angie Quantrell

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I feel like I struck gold! Or black and red, the colors on my 2 feathered guests.

I almost didn’t see them, as they were very quiet. I went out the Holly House front door to my car and spotted huge black birds, one on a dead stump, clawing to grasp and dig in, the other on the ground scooping bits of snack with a sideways tilt of the head.

As soon as red-crested heads popped into view, I knew exactly what they were. And they were huge! Due to my constant perusal of A Guide to Field Identification, BIRDS of North America book, in particular the page on woodpeckers and flickers, I recognized them. But only when I saw them in person did I realize the immense size compared to the flickers and scrub jays I usually identify. The guide says their length is 15-inches. Fascinating.

According to the guide book, pileated woodpeckers are “uncommon and local; a wary bird of extensive deciduous or mixed forests” (p. 180). I feel like I won the lottery. Here there were two uncommon and wary woodpeckers gently hopping along the driveway, chittering quietly to each other, sort of like chickens chat as they go about their day.

I watched them until they hopped beyond the bend of the driveway. They didn’t take off while I observed, and didn’t seem too bothered by me. They seemed a bit gangly in movement, young, perhaps teens? Not sure if they were mated or siblings, but I was thrilled to listen and watch.

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I love that Holly House has a copy of my favorite bird book. Their book is in much better shape. The pages are stuck in the proper place. What a special opportunity! Smack dab in the middle of a mixed forest, plenty of deciduous and coniferous trees and stumps for all to enjoy. Says the resident who learned the black bear is back and loves to scrub at trunks for bugs and wander behind my cabin on his dusk forays. Yikes! I would like to see him (or her) but only from my car or cottage window.

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Summer Camp

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Alas, with the 4th of July and other extra activities, my guest bloggers were unable to contribute to the blog last week. Nana to the rescue!

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Summer Camp Theme of the Week: Gardening

Gardening is near and dear to my heart. Add outdoor and nature connections, and the setting and theme is just perfect.

Some activities we did during Gardening Week:

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~ We made dandelion play dough! Look on Pinterest for several different recipes. Tips from Nana: Use a LARGE blender or food processor for the boiling water and dandelions. Both of my prospects were too small and leaked. All over. Use MORE dandelions than you think you will need. We didn’t get as much yellow as we wanted, so added a bit of yellow gel food coloring. I doubled the recipe, since 5 gardeners wanted to explore.

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~ We watered. Of course. They are all quite adept at handling a variety of gardening watering implements. We also refilled the fountain numerous times. Like the grands, I’ve been enjoying the quick dip of a smaller watering can into the fountain to tend to tiny water needs. As a result, fountain water disappears much quicker than one would expect.

~ We dissected a sunflower from the Sunflower Forest. We have plenty! It was pretty neat to see baby seeds, petals, the pithy center, and other plant parts in their glory.

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~ After coloring cardboard egg carton sections, we went on a nature collecting hunt, looking for bits of nature that matched the colored sections. Rocks, flowers, petals, leaves, pine cones, bark, pottery shards, glass marbles . . . The grands did enjoy this activity even if all colors did not exactly match.

~ I’ve been wanting to have a nature loom for a long time. With freshly cut wood chunks from a recent trip to wood hunt, the oldest grand Hayden hammered in nails around the edges of one log. I looped jute around and back and forth to create a loom. I think Nana enjoyed this most, but I hope over time they will wander back and add to the nature weaving. I think next week I will have to allow them to hammer all the  nails they want into a sacrificial log. That seemed to be the biggest draw.

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~ The two girl grands, Khloe and Autumn, loved helping Papa transplant root-bound mint out in the pasture. Just for fun. Since it will be mowed with the pasture grass.

~ The youngest, Gage and Autumn, enjoyed giving hair cuts (mowing the hair) to paper plate faces.

~ Swimming! This involved puppy power and hogging of the big pool, but still, cooling fun was had by all.

~ Gardening books were read. Always books.

I had more plans, but the mid-week holiday took out a huge chunk of our Summer Camp time. Until the next week of Summer Camp (camping!), enjoy your July and the rest of this quickly evaporating summer vacation!