Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Book Report: The Disasters by M. K. England

The Disasters

The Disasters

By M. K. England

Harper Teen, 2018

 

I won a copy of an ARC of The Disasters by M. K. England through Literary Rambles, an ‘everything literature’ blog by Natalie Aguirre. SPOILER ALERT

Blurb From Goodreads:

Hotshot pilot Nax Hall has a history of making poor life choices. So it’s not exactly a surprise when he’s kicked out of the elite Ellis Station Academy in less than twenty-four hours.

But Nax’s one-way trip back to Earth is cut short when a terrorist group attacks the Academy. Nax and three other washouts escape—barely—but they’re also the sole witnesses to the biggest crime in the history of space colonization. And the perfect scapegoats.

On the run and framed for atrocities they didn’t commit, Nax and his fellow failures execute a dangerous heist to spread the truth about what happened at the Academy.

They may not be “Academy material,” and they may not get along, but they’re the only ones left to step up and fight.

Book Report

I truly enjoyed reading The Disasters. Nax is a mix of Captain Kirk and Han Solo-rebellious, risk-taking, and flying by the seat of his pants. Oh, and don’t forget skilled and able to creatively solve problems. The rest of the cast was just as interesting and unique. These failures who were kicked out of Ellis Station Academy formed a team capable of trying to figure out what to do to help, well, the Universe.

What I loved: I enjoyed the characters and the setting of post now. I found it intriguing that once humans left the area, they were unable to ever visit Earth again. I loved the mystery and thrill of bad things happening, evil plans, and plot twists. The living in outer space setting was fun and I might have learned a few new things.

I found the writing to be smooth, engaging, and page-turning. I think I finished the book over 2-3 evenings. Just couldn’t put it down.

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Thanks to M. K. England, Literary Rambles, and Natalie Aguirre. Great read!

You can read the interview over at Literary Rambles here.

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Despite my love for cats, I adore birds. I just can’t put feeders out. That’s like saying, “Here, kitty, kitty! All you can eat buffet!” My Monet is a great hunter on her own, without my baiting traps for her.

So, I enjoy the birds that fly beyond her reach or call from barns, trees, and migration routes. She can’t get to those. In my car I keep a falling apart copy of a bird identification book. It’s amazing how many birds I can spot, research, and identify while my honey is driving over rivers and through woods. I’ve learned much about birds on our road trips.

After reading this post via Writers Rumpus, I discovered more bird books I need to read. Just in time for winter birding! I’m sending a big thank you to the authors, illustrators, and Kirsti Call (Writers Rumpus). Thank you!

Go check it out. You will learn a thing or three.

via Flying High with Gifted Authors Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple


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Book Report: Porcupine’s Pie by Laura Renauld

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Porcupine’s Pie

Written by Laura Renauld

Illustrated by Jennie Poh

Beaming Books, 2018

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I’ve never used Capri Sun in a recipe before reading this book. Yes, that has something to do with the adorable Porcupine’s Pie!

Porcupine is getting ready for Fall Feast Day. She checks her cupboard for ingredients for her famous Cranberry Pie and heads to the river to wash cranberries. Along the way she meets her friends who have famous recipes as well, but these friend are missing ingredients. By the time Porcupine gets to the river, circumstances have changed and she is no longer able to make Cranberry Pie.

Instead, once her friends arrive at her home, Porcupine makes a new treat, Friendship Pie (recipe included).

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Porcupine’s Pie is full of sharing, kindness, and friendship. I’ve wanted to read it since it was born, but had to wait for it to arrive at my library. (Let me tell you a trick: Most libraries have a way to request new titles. I LOVE this feature. I requested Porcupine’s Pie a few months ago. Now I have a brand new copy in my hands to enjoy.)

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I read Porcupine’s Pie with my grands the other day. My granddaughter immediately jumped up, ready to bake a Friendship Pie. But alas, their larder did not have all necessary ingredients. So Nana went shopping and last night we made Friendship Pie.

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Where does Capri Sun fit in? The recipe calls for cranberry juice (or a favorite juice). On the first night when we first looked in the fridge, there was a big container of apple juice. So Nana did not purchase more juice. ONE DAY later, when we prepped the recipe, the juice was all gone! That happens in families with three kids. The only similar ingredient to be found was Capri Sun. Well then. I can now say I’ve cooked with Capri Sun!

Porcupine’s Pie gets two thumbs up! Add this one to your fall/friendship/sharing themes.

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Book Report: BRIGHTLY BURNING by Alexa Donne

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Brightly Burning

By Alexa Donne

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018

 

Excerpt from book jacket:

“Stella Ainsley leaves poverty behind when she quits her engineering job aboard the Stalwart to become a governess on a private ship…But no one warned Stella that the ship seems to be haunted, nor that it may be involved in a conspiracy that could topple the entire interstellar fleet.”

Add to that nineteen-year-old Captain Hugo (aka love interest/person of interest), murder attempts, possible marriage, and personal risk for Stella, and you have an excellent mystery adventure set in space. Post ice age space, where all humans have jettisoned from Planet Earth to live in spaceships above the frozen landscape.

I was hooked from the beginning chapter to the final words. Brightly Burning is a fast read. At least I read it quickly! Memorable characters, mysteries and escalating tension, and a unique setting kept me glued to the pages. Though Brightly Burning is written for teens, readers of all ages will enjoy the captivating world created by Alexa Donne.

I received a copy of Brightly Burning from Alexa Donne, through Literary Rambles  and Natalie Aguirre. Thank you both very much for a great read!

 


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10 Gift Giving Ideas that Support Writers & Authors

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Do you have a writer in the family? A friend who is a writer? Or maybe you love to read books?

Writers work hard, most don’t make enough to pay the bills, and many need to build their readership (so in the future perhaps they CAN make enough to pay the bills and not hold down a full-time job AND write at the same time). Christmas is the perfect time to support the writers you know and love. Anytime is the perfect time to show support and help writers on their journey.

Here are some GIFT GIVING IDEAS that Support Writers & Authors.

1. Purchase the book. Paperback, hardback, digital. Spring for a REAL copy. This will financially support your writer and encourage him or her to continue writing.

2. Join Goodreads. Look up titles you read. Write a review, rate the book, follow the author. Goodreads is a great community of writers, readers, and professionals dedicated to the world of books. My kind of community. P.S. You can discover new authors and books by reading reviews and suggestions!

3. Post book titles you are reading on your social media accounts. I love to include a snapshot of the cover so other readers will remember the title, author, and cover. Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram, and more are great social media ways to show and tell.

4. Check out the book from the library. Even if you’ve purchased a copy. Tell the librarians how much you enjoyed such and such author. Check out other books by the same author.

5. Not in the library? Most libraries have a way to suggest titles for purchase. I’m fortunate that my library system has a very up-to-date web site. I can go right in and suggest titles. I love it when I get a confirmation email for an approved purchase. I’m also the first in line to check it out! Pretty cool.

6. Write a review on Amazon. The more reviews a book has, the higher it ranks in importance. Don’t ask me to explain more, because that’s all I’ve got. Somehow, reviews help drive the benefits authors receive from Amazon (benefits=promotions=sales=income for authors). Even ONE sentence helps!

7. Tell someone why you like the book. Share your copy. Tell others about your favorite authors. Don’t keep it a secret.

8. Suggest books for book chats, book discussion groups, or book gifts. Give books as gifts. Include book titles on your wish list.

9. Make book giving a tradition in your family or circle of friends. I love to give a new book to my grandchildren each year. Some families (granted, with only one or two children) have a book pile for Christmas Advent, each book individually wrapped. One is opened and read every day leading up to Christmas. This could be a shared advent project for families with more than one child. OR if you are independently wealthy, each child could have his or her own advent stack of books.

10. Send a note to an author. Tell what their books or writing means to you. Give the gift of encouragement. Now that’s a jolly gift!

Extra Gift Idea: Follow authors on your social media platforms. Look for their web sites and follow those. Sign up for newsletters to receive notices of new book releases. Read their blogs. Join discussions by commenting. All efforts will be appreciated.

How about you? Can you think of any other cool gifts to give to writers? Share below in the comments. Thanks! Happy Gift Giving!


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Book Report: The Three Rules of Everyday Magic by Amanda Rawson Hill

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The Three Rules of Everyday Magic

Written by Amanda Rawson Hill

Boyds Mills Press, An Imprint of Highlights, 2018

 

Believe. Give. Trust.

Those three rules of everyday magic are what give Kate hope over difficult life circumstances. From her Grammy, who is sinking into loss of memory, these rules are passed to Kate to help her deal with a fading best friend,  missing father, and stressful home and school life. Though Kate doesn’t believe in magic, she clings to the three rules to seek help with her struggles.

The Three Rules of Everyday Magic is a well-written, interesting chapter book by Amanda Rawson Hill. I loved the characters, situation, and real-life stresses faced by Kate and her family. Tough issues, like mental illness, memory loss, school, and friendship give this book a current world flavor. The music theme ties the components of the story together in a refreshing and believable way.

I recommend The Three Rules of Everyday Magic for upper elementary and middle school students, especially those who are struggling with home life and need someone with whom to identify.

Thanks for a copy of The Three Rules of Everyday Magic from Literary Rambles, Natalie Aguirre, and Amanda Rawson Hill. Thank you for sharing good literature for young readers.

 


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Book Report: Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners

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Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners

by Natalie Rompella

Sky Pony Press, 2017

 

What’s a girl to do when she is suddenly placed in a class WITH the hard-nosed teacher and WITHOUT her best friend and co-chef? The project they have been planning for years is swept off the table and the friends are paired with new partners.

Ana is devastated to learn she must partner with Dasher, a new kid from Alaska. All the new girl talks about is sled dogs. Worse, she has no culinary skills! Even worse, best friend Lily is paired with Via, another non-cook but super cool girl.

AND only Lily knows the truth about Ana. OCD dogs her every waking minute, leading Ana to obsess over germs and wash her hands to the point of cracked, chapped skin.

There are so many great things about Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners! I loved the characters and the middle school angst. The finer details of friendship, making new friends, OCD, school, projects, hobbies, teamwork, trying something new – all of these important issues play together in this engaging chapter book.

I learned new information about obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and treatment for this disorder. I also learned many new things about racing sled dogs and creating unique recipes. Readers will find at least one thing to identify with through the characters in Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners. Readers looking for books about dogs, friends, cooking and creating, going to school, or OCD will love this book.

Two thumbs up for Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners by Natalie Rompella.

P.S. ACTUAL recipes are shared in this book, creations by the main characters.

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I won a copy of Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners after reading an interview with Natalie Rompella and commenting about her new book at groggorg.blogspot.com. You can read the interview here.


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Book Report: I Am NOT a Chair!

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I Am NOT A Chair!

By Ross Burach

HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2017

 

I Am NOT A Chair! is hysterical!

I love the simple but hilarious tale of a giraffe who is continuously mistaken for a chair by other jungle animals. He is extremely creative as he tries to educate others about their misdirected assumptions so he can stop being a chair.

Brilliantly colored illustrations add depth and life to the story and will attract young readers as they see life on the wild side (though recognizable as sort of like going to school). Well done, Ross Burach, in story telling through words and images.

This book is great for young and old readers.

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KID KANDY

Make a Chair

Materials: whatever you find in your jungle environment

1. Search your jungle.

2. Find interesting items that look comfy and sturdy.

3. Make a chair. Does it look like Giraffe? Or a different jungle animal, like a pillow monster or box creature? Give your chair a name. Have someone take a picture of you sitting on your chair.

4. Read a book while sitting on your chair. 🙂

 


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Book Report: The Bird and the Blade

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The Bird and the Blade

by Megan Bannen

(Balzer + Bray, An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2018)

 

I recently received a free copy of The Bird and the Blade from Literary Rambles,  Natalie Aguirre, and Megan Bannen.

I was interested in reading The Bird and The Blade because of the title. I like birds. The blade, I could only assume, was sword like and sharp. I was correct on one count. The blade was an actual blade, though I will not spoil the ending by telling you much more about it. The bird was not an actual bird, but the main character, Jinghua.

Without giving too much away, this story is about love, war, families, dynasties, refugees, stations in life, relationships, and courage. The tale begins with a young female slave, Jinghua. But that is not the whole of her.

Through careful revelation and continually going back in time while moving forward, readers learn about Jinghua and how her life has changed. I didn’t know before I read, but this tale was inspired by the opera Turandot and is a retelling of
“Prince Khalaf and the Princess of China.” Despite the ancient beginnings of the story, it is worth every century!

I enjoyed The Bird and the Blade. I loved how the story is organized, with flashbacks to share important details. As I read the “current” portions of the story, I eagerly anticipated the next travel back in time to find out more details. And there are some very juicy details!

Young adults and adults will enjoy this well-written tale, The Bird and the Blade. Thank you, Literary Rambles, for introducing me to this book and author.


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Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling

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Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus

By Dusti Bowling

(Sterling Children’s Books, 2017)

 

I won a copy of Dusti Bowling’s chapter book Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus from Literary Rambles.

What first attracted me to this book was the title. I could just imagine what type of events a cactus would stoically attend, though I knew the book was not about those fascinating plants.

What attracted me next were the characters and the setting. Having grown up in Arizona, I looked forward to reading a book set in the starkly dry and hot desert. The book has a captivating cast of diverse characters. I loved reading of friends Aven (born without arms) and Conner (spits at people when he eats) and how they manage their disabilities. The strength and courage of Aven compelled me to cheer for her and will inspire others who struggle with any type of disability. Family issues, a mystery discovered in an old out building, and facing ones’ own fears come together in a nicely written page-turner.

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus is a great read for any young (or old) person. Compassion, understanding, and acceptance of diversity will develop as readers live alongside Aven and Conner. I found that Bowlings’ book gave me the viewpoint of someone living with challenges and how they faced daily life and difficult situations. Readers will see that they can do anything if they put their mind to it!

Well done and great read!