What is your favorite genre to read?

Monday, December 11, 2017

Wonder Showdown: Book vs Movie

The book Wonder by R.J. Palacio compared to the 2017 movie Wonder


Wonder Showdown: Book vs Movie

Way back in 2013 when I read the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio, I said that I hoped there would NEVER be a movie made from this book. Why? Because there is NO way. EVER. to capture the feelings, attitudes, and emotions from this book. No way. There is no way that a movie could ever live up to my expectations for this book. And part of what made it so good was that your mental picture of what Auggie looked like was so important. If  the character's face on the movie screen didn't live up to what you saw mentally, would it be as good? Well, here we are now in 2017 and they did make a movie. Tough choice! Do I go or do I not go? My husband actually made the choice for me by purchasing tickets. So I went. Begrudgingly, I may add. Or, maybe hesitantly. So, you may ask, "What was the verdict?" Surprisingly, I actually really enjoyed the film! Keep in mind that I read the book over four years ago now, so it's been long enough for me to forget all the little details, but I think they did a great job of capturing the feeling and emotion of the book. Does it have all those little details? No, it doesn't, but I did not leave feeling let down or disappointed. I left feeling inspired and uplifted. I feel like they captured the most memorable moments in the book that I remember, and that overall they did a very good job. Was it perfect? No, and if you read the book yesterday you may have a very different opinion, but overall, I was impressed! The acting was really good; I was skeptical about Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson together, but I think they did well together. And Jacob Tremblay, who played Auggie, did an excellent job! Was it as good as the book? Nope, it wasn't, but it was well done, and I would recommend it. It's inspirational, and it has the morals, lessons, and attitudes that made the book so good. We definitely need more media like this! 

First Place:                                                      Second Place:

What are your thoughts? I'd love to hear your opinions of the movie and the book! Please comment below!


Friday, December 8, 2017

[Book Review] A Tangled Mercy by Joy Jordan-Lake

A Tangled Mercy by Joy Jordan-Lake
Photo Credit: Goodreads.com


A Tangled Mercy

by

Joy Jordan-Lake


Blurb:

"Told in alternating tales at once haunting and redemptive, A Tangled Mercy is a quintessentially American epic rooted in heartbreaking true events examining the harrowing depths of human brutality and betrayal, and our enduring hope for freedom and forgiveness. After the sudden death of her troubled mother, struggling Harvard grad student Kate Drayton walks out on her lecture--and her entire New England life. Haunted by unanswered questions and her own uncertain future, she flees to Charleston, South Carolina, the place where her parents met, convinced it holds the key to understanding her fractured family and saving her career in academia. Kate is determined to unearth groundbreaking information on a failed 1822 slave revolt--the subject of her mother's own research. Nearly two centuries earlier, Tom Russell, a gifted blacksmith and slave, grappled with a terrible choice: arm the uprising spearheaded by members of the fiercely independent African Methodist Episcopal Church or keep his own neck out of the noose and protect the woman he loves. Kate attempts to discover what drove her mother's dangerous obsession with Charleston's tumultuous history are derailed by a horrific massacre in the very same landmark church. In the unimaginable aftermath, Kate discovers a family she never knew existed as the city unites with a powerful message of hope and forgiveness for the world."

My Review:

The other day I was looking back at the list of books I have read this year. It's not as long as it has been in years past, because my son has been sick for so long, but I have read some very good books. This book, however, is my favorite of the year. It's so well written. The narrative transitions between 2015 and 1822, and it's not hard to figure out where you are; it flows and transitions very well. Usually in books where it goes back and forth between the present and the past, I have a favorite. I like one better than the other one. In this book I loved both story lines! The descriptions in this book are amazing. I haven't ever been to Charleston, but after reading this book I'd love to go there. I actually did "google" Charleston, though, and looked through pictures of the skyline. I can't remember the last time I did that with a book. The city just came to life on the page, and I wanted to see it for myself. Each of the characters are developed so well. They are so realistic and lifelike, and you become a part of their lives as you read the story. Kate, Gabe, Dan, Scudder, Rose, Tom, Dinah, Emily, and Angelina become your good friends as you read. Many of the characters in the 1822 story line are real people, and it is so interesting to think of them and their lives. I love that real events are also woven into the book; both old events and very recent as well. The topics discussed in the novel are current and not without controversy. Ms. Jordan-Lake brings it up in way that provokes contemplation and a good soul-search. This book is intriguing and engaging; it will make you laugh and cry, and will make you take a good look at yourself and your beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions. I could not put this book down, and I highly recommend it!

Rating: PG 13+ (There is very little profanity and no "intimacy." There is quite a bit of violence, though. A couple of scenes, especially, are very violent, graphic, and descriptive. Many people die, and it's horrendous and very tragic. The scene that relates a more recent event is especially brutal and graphic to read.) 

Recommendation: 16 years-old and up, at least. (If the teenager is sensitive to violence then I would definitely wait. There is some value in having a teenager read it-it definitely gets you thinking about real life situations, and helps you think outside your box. I would not recommend it for anyone younger than 16. For sure.)


Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Monday, December 4, 2017

[Book Review] Remember the Ladies by Callista Gingrich

Remember the Ladies by Callista Gingrich


Remember the Ladies
by
Callista Gingrich

Blurb:

Ellis the Elephant is headed back to the White House! In Remember the Ladies, the seventh in Callista Gingrich's New York Times bestselling series, Ellis meets some of America's greatest first ladies and discovers their many contributions to American history. Join Ellis as he travels back in time to encounter:
  • Martha Washington as she invents what it means to be a first lady
  • Dolley Madison as she saves a portrait of George Washington from a burning White House
  • Mary Todd Lincoln as she supports Union troops throughout the Civil War
  • Eleanor Roosevelt as she redefines and strengthens the role of first lady
  • Jackie Kennedy as she brings style and glamour to the White House
With beautiful illustrations and charming rhymes, Remember the Ladies will delight young and old alike with a look at the first ladies who helped make America an exceptional nation.

My Review:

This book is so cute! The illustrations are adorable, and I love that it's teaching the children about the first ladies. I think the first ladies sometimes get overlooked, but many of them have done some great things, and have championed some very important causes. I actually learned a lot! I didn't know about many of the middle first ladies. I know quite a bit about Martha Washington and Abigail Adams, and then I know quite a bit about the more current first ladies, but I learned a great deal about some of those first ladies in the middle. For example, did you know that Abigail Fillmore added a library to the White House? I'd love to see the library in the White House! And I didn't know that Jackie Kennedy gave Americans the first televised tour of the White House, or that Lady Bird Johnson worked to clean up America's highways. This book highlights many of the first ladies, and I love that the title is based on Abigail Adams telling her husband to "remember the ladies!" I think this book does a good job of covering first ladies from both parties. At the end there is a little snippet on each first lady. I was surprised to know that in a few cases the presidents' wives didn't want the role, so a daughter or someone else would fill the position. I enjoyed this book and do recommend it.

Rating: G (Clean!)

Recommendation: Everyone

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Friday, December 1, 2017

[Book Review] The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Anderson



The Little Match Girl
by
Hans Christian Anderson
Retold by
David Warner
Paintings by
Greg Newbold

Blurb:

"It's Christmas Eve, but for one little girl, there will be no stockings hung lovingly above the fireplace or shiny presents wrapped under the tree. The best that the little match girl can hope for is a warm, dry corner of the street to protect her against the freezing snow that has been falling for hours. Helpless and cold, the child seeks a bit of comfort from the only source she has--the bundle of matches in her apron pocket. She had struggled all day to sell even one, but the crowds of people had only hurried past her with hardly a glance as they finished up their holiday shopping and rushed home to begin their feasts. Alas, at least she has the matches now, each one holding the promise of a few short seconds of warmth and light. But as she strikes each match, she discovers a truth that sets her heart soaring--all along, even in times when she has felt most alone, she has been lovingly watched over by those who have gone before her and have anxiously awaited a joyous reunion. She learns she is not forgotten, and in the learning shares a poignant message of love and service. The tender tale of the little match girl reminds each of us to take notice of the least of those among us and to do our part to extend a kindly hand--at Christmastime and always."

My Review:

Happy December everyone!! I wanted to get this review out earlier today, but life happened! I did go for a run and get my house cleaned though, so that was something. I wanted to start December out with this beautiful Christmas picture book. The illustrations are amazing. Seriously. They are so beautiful! The story is so sad, but very well written. I haven't read it before, so I wasn't prepared. Grab your Kleenexes my friends, you'll need them. Even though it is very sad, there is a little bit of hope for something better. In the intro. it says,

Though on the surface, the little girl seems the picture of misery and despair, her story is one of 
hope for a better life and assurance that a joyous reunion in heaven is awaiting even God's most helpless children. Despite her suffering, the little girl finds warmth and light, ever believing that all will be right in the end. It is a message that has stood the test of time--and one that reminds each of us to look for ways to bring warmth of love and light of understanding to others. 

This book is a wonderful way to start the Christmas season. Christmas is a wonderful time of year to remember those around us, and to try a little harder to help and serve those around us who are in need of our help, love, kindness, smile, comfort, friendship, and service. With that, I thought I'd share this wonderful opportunity with you. I don't do this often, but I think this one is important. It is put together by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes called the Mormon Church), but it is non-denominational. It is people and service oriented. It's called "Light the World," and it's 25 ways to serve for 25 days. It started today. Each day from now until Christmas there is a short movie clip and an idea for an act of service. I'll post the first movie here. If you would like to participate (you don't sign up or anything, it's just on your own), you may go to www.mormon.org to find out more information and to see the daily videos. Merry Christmas everyone!!!



Thursday, November 30, 2017

[Book Review] Adventurers Wanted: The Axe of Sundering (Book #5) by M.L. Forman

Adventurers Wanted: The Axe of Sundering (Book #5) by M.L. Forman


Adventurers Wanted: The Axe of Sundering (Book #5)
by
M.L. Forman

Blurb:

"Whalen Vankin is a great and honorable wizard, and he has only ever personally trained two other wizards. One is Alexander Taylor, a young man who has earned a reputation as a brave adventurer, a warrior, and a man of honor. They other is Jabez, Vankin's nephew--a man whose choices have led him down a different, darker path. Dark magic has covered Westland, and evil is stirring. Whalen and Alex must journey together into the heart of danger, confronting a sea serpent, and facing down more than one dragon. Alex must find the legendary Axe of Sundering--the one weapon that offers a chance to defeat Jabez--and protect the land from  the dark wizard's plans. But finding it will be an adventure of its own as the only pathway to the Axe leads through the underground tunnels and secret passages of the Castle of Conmar. But Jabez has a final weapon at his disposal: the powerful Orion stones, which could spell the end to Whalen and Alex both."

My Review:

May I just say how much fun this series has been? My boys have read lots of books and series (they are now 16 and 14) and this series is high up there as one of their favorites! My 14 year-old put this book on hold at the library a couple of years ago, because it's anticipated date of publication was back then, and it was on hold for a year. After the year was up I redid it and it was on hold again for awhile, then the library took it off. My son asked every couple of months if this book was out yet. There were some complications in getting this book written and published; I think the author was very sick or something. Needless to say, at my house, the anticipation for this book was enormous! So, when I was asked to review it, of course I said, "Yes!" And, both of my sons read it before I did; they were so excited! Did it let them down? Nope! (Thank goodness!) The Axe of Sundering is a great end to the series. I will really miss reading about Alex and his amazing adventures. This book has some great twists and turns, and there are a few times that you are very worried about both Alex and Vankin. Will they pull out of this one? Will they be able to defeat all this evil? They both put themselves in some sketchy situations in order to try and defeat the Brotherhood and its leaders. I missed having the familiar adventurer friends in this book, but some new friends were introduced, and by the end they had won my  approval. I just love the creativity of M.L. Forman; what an imagination! The concept of the Axe of Sundering is quite clever, and the different places that Alex and Vankin travel are so unique and interesting. This book, along with the rest, is well written, the character development is great, it is exciting and full of adventure, and it's a great end to the series. There were some unanswered questions and a few things left undone, but I know the author's health was not great, and I'm glad he persevered to finish. I loved the twist at the end, and thought it was very fitting! I highly recommend this book, and the whole series! 

Rating: PG+ (There is no profanity or "intimacy," but there is quite a bit of violence. They are in the middle of a war against evil, and there is quite a bit of fighting. Some prominent characters die; some of the deaths are a bit graphic.)

Recommendation: 4th or 5th grade and up (Perfect for middle-graders and YA readers...and their moms!)

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Adventurers Wanted Series:
(Click on the images to find out more about each book!)
Adventurers Wanted: Slathbog's Gold (Book #1) by M.L. Forman
Book #1

Adventurers Wanted: The Horn of Moran (Book #2) by M.L. Forman
Book #2

Adventurers Wanted: Albrek's Tomb (Book #3) by M.L. Forman
Book #3

Adventurers Wanted: Sands of Nezza (Book #4) by M.L. Forman
Book #4
Adventurers Wanted: The Axe of Sundering (Book #5) by M.L. Forman
Book #5





Wednesday, November 22, 2017

15 Books I'm Thankful For



At this time of year it's important to think about the things we're thankful for, right?
The typical list usually includes family, friends, health, a home, etc. Well, today I'm stepping
out of that box! There are many books that have influenced my life in different ways, and today
I'm giving you 15 of the non-religious books that I'm thankful for. (I could do another whole post
on religious books...that's a post for another day.) 
(All the credit for the book photos in this post goes to goodreads.com)

1

When I was probably too young to be reading chapter books, I begged and begged my mom to let me read them. She gave in, thankfully, and that is where my love of reading began. The Beezus and Ramona books were some of those very first chapter books I read. I loved them, and read them over and over again. I'm thankful for this book because it's books like these that capture the young mind and get children, like me, hooked on reading. 


2. 

The Little House On the Prairie books were also books that I read again and again as a young child. Thankfully, I live in this day and age with grocery stores, furnaces, cars, and hospitals. I would not have lasted long as a pioneer or as a settler out in the middle of the prairie. Reading these books allowed me to live that life vicariously through the stories. I'm thankful for this book because it was one of the first series that I read that allowed me to travel to a new place and experience a different life through reading. 


3.

How I loved The Secret Garden! Yep, you can guess...I read it so many times while I was growing up. I loved it because as the garden came to life, so did the characters. And what little girl wouldn't love a secret garden all to herself? Ok, maybe lots of girls wouldn't, but I would have loved it. However, it would have to be secret, and my own idea, because I didn't like it when I had to go weed the gardens as my chore growing up. I'm thankful for this book because it allowed me to experience living in a different part of the world, and to learn about friendship.


4. 

I cannot even count how many times I read the Anne of Green Gables series in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. I loved Anne so much! I would laugh with her, cry with her, and learn lessons right along side her. Reading this book allowed me to escape into a different place and time. Poetry came to life when Anne read it. I'm thankful for this book and series because it taught me a lot about people and how everyone just wants to be loved and nurtured. 


5. 

My dad read this book to me when I was younger. It was one of the only books that he read to us, and I loved every second of it. I thought Buttercup was the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen, and I loved each of the characters. I'm totally going to date myself here, but when we finished reading the book we went and saw the movie in the theater. It was amazing! To this day, I love this book and the movie. This was one of the first experiences I had with reading the book and then watching the movie. Thankfully, to me, the movie was just as good as the book. I'm thankful for this book because of the many memories I have of the time we spent reading it as a family.


6.  

I am the oldest of six children, and that includes one sister and four brothers. My sister and I always felt out numbered, even though we were the oldest. We would dream of having more sisters (We do have more sisters now because all of my brothers are married-it's so fun!!). Reading Little Women allowed me to experience life with more sisters. I'm thankful for this book because of the experiences these women had, and all that I learned from them. 


7. 

Where do I even start with this one? Reading Pride and Prejudice opened the door for me into Jane Austen's world. And oh, how I love that world! I believe I've read all of her books now, although I may have missed one, and they are my favorites! I love the romance and the characters. I'm thankful for this book because it opened up a whole new world to me.


8.

I've read most of Agatha Christie's books, but I chose And Then There Were None because it was one of the most memorable to me. I loved the mystery of her books, and I enjoyed trying to figure it all out before I got to the end. I wasn't very good at it, but I sure enjoyed it! I'm thankful for this book (and her other books too), though, because it was something that I shared with my sweet grandma. My grandma and I would read these books and discuss what we thought about them. She's gone now, but I'm so thankful for the memories we shared with these books.


9. 

Oh, how I love this book! I've read the UNABRIDGED version of Les Miserables at least three times, and I love it more and more each time I read it. You should see my copy. It's definitely well loved! Victor Hugo was a master of character development, of description, and of emotion. The characters are beloved friends in this book. I love how Jean Valjean grows and develops throughout the book, and how Cosette begins to come out of her shell under Valjean's love and care. I love all of it, including all the history. I love the language in this book; it is so well crafted. I'm thankful for this book because of the lessons it teaches me, the beloved friends that I have made, and the emotion I feel as I read it.  


10.

The Count of Monte Cristo is another book that I am thankful for. Yes, I have read the UNABRIDGED version probably three times as well, and have loved it more each time I've read it. Getting lost in the story is my favorite part! I can't imagine being imprisoned for so long for something you didn't do. The hatred, bitterness, and anger you would feel would be hard to break free from. I'm thankful for this book because you get to see Edmond grow, learn, and change, and you are able to experience life in a different place and time.


11.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is an amazing book that opened my eyes to many things! I learned a lot from this book, and it was nonfiction! That is why I'm thankful for this book today; I'm thankful for this book because it showed me that nonfiction doesn't need to be poorly written, long, and boring. This nonfiction story was written so well that it read like fiction. Loved it!


12.

1776 by David McCullough is another nonfiction book that is so well written it reads like fiction. The Revolutionary War is one of my favorite subjects to learn about, and I loved getting caught up in this story! I enjoyed learning about George Washington and his leadership; you learn that he wasn't perfect, but he worked hard, and did his best. I also enjoyed learning about some of the other key players in the war. I am thankful for this book because I'm thankful to be able to learn about the history of my country.




13.

The books I've been thankful for so far have revolved solely around me. And most of them have been classics. Here, my focus changes a bit. I'm thankful for Fablehaven because it is fun series that 2nd-3rd graders are able to read, and it gets them excited about reading. Times have changed, and although my children are great readers, they have not enjoyed the classics. I'm going to write about this at a later time, but for now I'm thankful for Fablehaven because it has introduced my children to the fun of reading, and has gotten them excited about reading. 


14.

The Harry Potter series is the same way. I read these as an adult and enjoyed them, and was excited to pass them onto my children. I'm thankful for these books because they open the doorway into reading for many children. My oldest three have read all of them, and my youngest is reading book #5 as we speak. It's so fun to watch your children get involved in the story! 


15.

I had to choose at least one picture book! I have always loved picture books! I'm sure my mom got tired of reading them to me; I haven't read them to my kids in awhile now, but I loved it! The Best Nest is especially good because it combines humor with a cute story. The illustrations are super cute, and I love how hard the daddy bird works to find the perfect home for his family. I'm thankful for this book because picture books are the foundation for good readers! They're the perfect starting point because parents and children get to spend time together, and reading together brings such wonderful memories. 

Which books are you thankful for?

I hope you all have a very
Happy Thanksgiving!!!


Monday, November 20, 2017

[Book Review] Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage

Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage
Photo Credit: Amazon.com


Jesus the Christ
by
James E. Talmage


Blurb (Credit: Amazon.com):

Considered one of the all-time great classics of LDS literature, Jesus the Christ is a comprehensive look into the life and ministry of the Savior. Written at the request of the First Presidency by the Apostle James E. Talmage, and penned from an office inside the Salt Lake Temple, this volume is more than a simple outline of the Savior's life. It presents a far-reaching view of the Savior-including His life in the flesh, His antemortal existence, and His activities across time as the world's Redeemer. Allow this unparalleled work to enhance your knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ as it magnifies your understanding of the scriptures.

My Review:

Every once in awhile a book comes along that changes your life. As you read it, the words influence you so much that you will never think the same way about the subject again; you will never be the same. A few books I've read in my lifetime have made me feel this way. Believing Christ by Stephen Robinson was one, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo was another. And today I add Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage. It's hefty, for sure! The edition I read has 793 pages, and it is not an easy read. It took me months to read. James E. Talmage was a very intelligent man, and his vocabulary is off the charts. I had to look up the definitions of many words. It's strange, because at first it took me forever, but by the end I was in the groove, and his style and language became easier to understand. This is the most comprehensive book on the life and mission of Jesus Christ that I have ever seen. It's incredible. It begins with why we need a Savior. Then it takes you through many of the prophets of the Old Testament that prophesied about the coming of a Savior. A Messiah. It delves into the lives of Mary and Joseph and the birth of Christ in Bethlehem. Talmage takes you step by step through the New Testament and the life of Jesus Christ here on earth. He is very comprehensive in his writing. He discusses Christ's teachings and miracles. I loved learning about life in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas; who the different groups of people are and how they came to be. The events take on different meanings when you know more about the context in which they happened. Sometimes when I'm reading the parables of Christ I understand their meanings and sometimes I don't. This book explains them all, and it helped me so much. He goes into detail about the symbolism in the writings of the New Testament, which, once again, is very helpful in finding new meaning in the words on the page. One thing in particular that helped me was learning about the difference between the Pharisees and the Sadducees and scribes, the Samaritans and the Jews. It was also extremely helpful to learn about the structure of the Roman government in Jerusalem, and who was in power over what. The detail Talmage puts into his description of Jesus Christ's Atoning sacrifice helps you to understand the importance of this moment. 

 Christ's agony in the garden is unfathomable by the finite mind, both as to intensity and cause. The thought that He suffered through fear of death is untenable. Death to Him was preliminary to resurrection and triumphal return to the Father from whom He had come, and to a state of glory even beyond what He had before possessed; and, moreover, it was within His power to lay down His life voluntarily. He struggled and groaned under a burden such as no other being who has lived on earth might even conceive as possible. It was not physical pain, nor mental anguish alone, that caused Him to suffer such torture as to produce an extrusion of blood from every pore; but a spiritual agony of soul such as only God was capable of experiencing. No other man, however great his powers of physical or mental endurance, could have suffered so; for his human organism would have succumbed, and syncope would have produced unconsciousness and welcome oblivion. In that hour of anguish Christ met and overcame all the horrors that Satan, 'the prince of this world' could inflict.

Next, Talmage takes you through Jesus' arrest and trials before Herod and Pilate. Then he thoroughly discusses Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. At the end, he goes into some detail into the lives of the eleven apostles and what occurred after they were all gone, and he even goes a little into the dark ages. 

This is an amazing book! It takes a long time to get through it, but it's worth it. It was written by a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes known as Mormon or LDS), but anyone wanting a better understanding of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ will benefit from reading this book. I promise it is worth the effort. Your understanding and love for the Savior will grow tenfold. Reading this book changed my perceptions and increased my love and appreciation for my Savior, Jesus the Christ. 

Rating: PG (Clean)

Recommendation: 16 years-old and up. (A younger person could read it, as it is taken from the Bible, but Talmage's language is difficult to understand because of his awesome vocabulary, so I think 16 and up are more likely to understand it.)

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Printable Bookmarks

I don't know about you, but I'm always tearing off pieces of receipts or
using gum wrappers as bookmarks. No more, my friends! I have for you, hot
off the press, my new theReadathon bookmarks!




Simply click on the image above, print (cardstock works best), cut, punch a hole in the
top, and then thread yarn through the hole. Easy peasy! 


the Readathon free printable bookmarks




Tuesday, November 14, 2017

[Book Review] Hum If You Don't Know The Words by Bianca Marais

Hum If You Don't Know The Words by Bianca Marais
Photo Credit: Goodreads.com

Hum If You Don't Know The Words
by
Bianca Marais

Blurb:

"Life under apartheid has created a secure future for Robin Conrad, a nine-year-old white girl growing up in a mining town in the 1970s Johannesburg. In a rural village, worlds apart, Beauty Mbali struggles to raise her children alone in the blacks-only Bantustan of the Transkei. Their lives are divided by the colors of their skin, and their paths should never have crossed...until the historic Soweto uprising, where government forces violently crush a protest by black students, igniting reprisals on both sides. Their worlds shatter in the aftermath when Robin's parents are found dead and Beauty's daughter goes missing. After Robin is sent to live with her irresponsible aunt, Beauty is hired to care for Robin, and, for the first time in her sheltered existence, Robin learns about life beyond the white, upper-class privilege she has always known, discovering in Beauty the love and support she desperately craves. While Beauty's frantic search for her beloved activist daughter puts her in contact with whites and blacks secretly combatting apartheid, her growing responsibility and affection for Robin, whose loss mirrors her own, forces painful choices on them both. When it becomes clear that Beauty could be lost to Robin forever if Beauty's daughter is found, Robin makes a risky decision with devastating consequences. Her quest to make amends and find redemption is a journey of self-discovery that brings to light the harsh truths and injustices of a society she thought she knew."

My Review:

Growing up as a white girl in the United States hasn't always been easy, and my parents, and now my husband and I, have worked very hard to get where we are. After reading this book, however, I realize that I've definitely lived a sheltered and fairly easy life. My eyes were opened while reading this book. I've learned about apartheid in school, but I had no idea that things like the Soweto uprising occurred. I loved this book. I couldn't put it down. The writing draws you in and captivates you. Ms. Marais' descriptions and writing style are very well done. To be drawn into this time and place, and to be a part of such a difficult and harsh period in South Africa's history, is surreal. The emotion seeps from the pages. Beauty is a difficult character to understand; she leaves her sons alone in order to go find her daughter. She thinks this journey will be a quick one. When it's not, she doesn't give up. Her sons are being taken care of by the community at home while she continues to search for her daughter. I love her determination and love for her child. Robin is just a child, but she and Beauty are bound together by the grief they share following the uprising. I had to keep reminding myself that Robin was just a child; she made some choices that, as an adult, made me scream at her through the pages. How could she be so selfish? Thankfully, she realizes her mistake and tries her best to fix it. The growth of both of these characters throughout the book is amazing to watch. It's unthinkable the atrocities that occur around the world today, and those that have occurred in the past, and it's when we step out of our own worlds, our own boxes, and truly see around us that we can begin to make things right. I loved that this book took me out of my comfort zone. I loved the lessons learned. This book is very well written. The characters come to life on the page, and you feel like you are there, living the story along with them. There are so many lessons to be learned in this book. We are all the same. We may look different, come from different places, speak different languages, have different experiences, but we are all the same. We just want to live, provide for our families, be loved, and be safe. Selfishness may seem ok when we rationalize it, but it can cause so much pain and heartbreak. Doing what we know is right, even when it is difficult. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I highly recommend it. 

Rating: PG-13+ (There is a little bit of profanity, but not much. There is no "intimacy," but there is violence. The Soweto uprising was difficult to read because of how many children were killed or injured. There was a character beaten almost to death, and there was also some domestic violence.)

Recommendation: 16 years-old and up. This book is not appropriate for younger readers. 

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


I have a free copy of this book to give away!
(All you need to do is "like" my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TheReadathon/ 
then comment on this post (below) with your name and email address 
so I can contact you if you win.)


Monday, November 13, 2017

[Book Review] Mustaches for Maddie by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown

Mustaches for Maddie by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown


Mustaches for Maddie
by
Chad Morris and Shelly Brown

Blurb:

"Twelve-year-old Maddie has a quirky sense of humor and a fondness for spotting fake mustaches--a neon pink handlebar, a green fuzzy chevron, a blue pencil mustache--her fake mustaches always seem to get a laugh. Being funny gets her noticed by class queen Cassie and things are looking up when Maddie is cast as the lead in the school play. When strange things start to happen to her body, like tripping when she walks and having her hand curl up by her side, she blames it on growing pains, but her mom isn't so sure. The doctor confirms Maddie has a brain tumor and in an instant her world is turned upside down. With scary medical tests and surgery ahead of her, as well as typical sixth-grade problems--including the class queen who quickly turns into a bully--Maddie uses her friendliness, positive attitude, imagination, and her fake mustaches to battle her challenges. Maddie even gets an unexpected surprise when she receives hundreds of photos from friends, family members, and even complete strangers wearing fake mustaches to cheer her on. Based on a true story, Mustaches for Maddie teaches that everyone is going through somethings hard and everyone needs a compassionate friend and maybe a little bit of laughter from a mustache."

My Review:

I loved this book! This is such an inspirational story!  I love Maddie's voice in this book; her humor and wit are refreshing and so much fun, and her positive attitude during such a difficult time is truly admirable. Although this book is based on a true story, a big portion of the story is fictional. Part of the fictional story is about Cassie. She is a bully in Maddie's class, and the way that Maddie decides to handle the situation makes her an example to all children in similar situations. Instead of being mean back to Cassie, or turning inward and becoming depressed, Maddie decides to use her wit, her kindness, and her sense of humor to change the dynamics. I loved that part of the book! Maddie is actually the daughter of the authors, and she really did have a brain tumor. Neighbors, friends, and even strangers, sent her pictures of them with silly mustaches to cheer Maddie up after her surgery. How sweet is that? Seriously! That is how we should always treat each other; building up and doing everything we can to help during difficult situations. It's heart breaking to hear stories of children battling cancer, and to hear of such an amazing outcome is truly inspirational. The author was in the hospital with his daughter when his debut novel The Inventor's Secret was published. I did not know that at the time, but I was lucky enough to participate in his book tour, and his book has turned into one of my all-time favorite middle-grader reads! Mustaches for Maddie is well written, it flows well, the voice in the book is witty, charming, and so cute, and the character development is great. Another fabulous thing about this book are the lessons that it teaches. They are very powerful: standing up for yourself, anti-bullying, being yourself, enjoying life, and doing things that you love are just a few. So great! This is a fast, easy read that will leave you wanting to hear more from cute Maddie. I laughed and cried, and couldn't put it down. I highly recommend this book for kids and adults alike! It'll make a great read aloud too! My copy came with these cute "Compassion in Action" postcards as well.

Compassion in Action postcards from Mustaches for Maddie by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown

Rating: PG (Clean!! There is a bully in the book, and she does some mean things. It also discusses Maddie's medical issues. There isn't any profanity, "intimacy," or violence.)

Recommendation: As a silent read I'd say 2nd or 3rd grade and up, and as a read aloud I'd say K or 1st grade and up. All children should read this book to see how their actions affect those around them, and to see how Maddie handles the situation. I'm going to have all four of my kids read it!



Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Also by Chad Morris:

Cragbridge Hall: The Inventor's Secret (Book #1) by Chad Morris
Book #1







Cragbridge Hall: The Avatar Battle (Book #2) by Chad Morris
Book #2
Cragbridge Hall: The Impossible Race (Book #3) by Chad Morris
Book #3