Book Review: Blue Skies

For fans of Louisiana’s Way Home, this heartwarming novel tells the story of ten-year-old Glory Bea as she prepares for a miracle of her very own—her father’s return home.

Glory Bea Bennett knows that miracles happen in Gladiola, Texas, population 3,421. After all, her grandmother—the best matchmaker in the whole county—is responsible for thirty-nine of them.

Now, Glory Bea needs a miracle of her own.

The war ended three years ago, but Glory Bea’s father never returned home from the front in France. Glory Bea understands what Mama and Grams and Grandpa say—that Daddy died a hero on Omaha Beach—yet deep down in her heart, she believes Daddy is still out there.

When the Gladiola Gazette reports that one of the boxcars from the Merci Train (the “thank you” train)—a train filled with gifts of gratitude from the people of France—will be stopping in Gladiola, she just knows daddy will be its surprise cargo.

But miracles, like people, are always changing, until at last they find their way home. 

Expected publication: March 1st 2020 by Simon & Schuster

What did I think?

This Middle-Grade WW2 novel is about all about the grief of the people left on the home front. Glory Bea Bennett is looking for a miracle. She believes her father could still come home three years after D Day and the battle on Omaha Beach. There is also a funny side plot containing the adventures of her Gram, the matchmaker which tempers the sadness that surrounds having to adjust your dreams to reality.

It’s a solid choice for Middle Grade World War 2 reading lists.

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Book Review: The Inside Battle

Thirteen-year-old Rebel Mercer lives in west Texas with his dad, Nathan, and his aunt Birdie. His dad is finally home after serving in the military, and Rebel longs for his approval. But something isn’t right. His dad has PTSD, and lately he has been spending his time communicating with a racist, anti-government militia group called the Flag Bearers. Rebel doesn’t agree with his dad’s newfound ideas, but he turns a blind eye to them. So when his best friend Ajeet beats Rebel at a robotics tournament by using one of Rebel’s pieces, Rebel begins to wonder if there’s some truth to what his dad has been saying, and he lashes out at Ajeet.

Expelled from school, Rebel’s dad takes him to the mountains of Oklahoma, where they meet up with the Flag Bearers. Soon his dad is engulfed in the group and its activities, and they’re becoming more and more dangerous. When Rebel gets wind of a planned attack on an African American church, he knows that this group has gone too far and innocent people could get hurt. Can Rebel find his voice and stop the Flag Bearers from carrying out their plans before it’s too late?

The Inside Battle is a gripping story of family, bravery, and speaking up for what’s right from author Melanie Sumrow.

Expected publication: March 3rd 2020 by Yellow Jacket

What did I think?

I enjoyed The Prophet Calls so much that when I saw that Melanie had another Middle Grade novel I jumped at the chance to get a early review up here. The Inside Battle did not disappoint. Melanie has a way of helping the reader to feel what it must be like to live inside a counter-cultural family.

Even as an adult reader I was enthralled with the subject matter. She captured exactly how people can be led into a group such as the Flag Bearers. This world will (hopefully) be foreign to young readers and the story takes a scenario that they can relate to and shows all sides of it.

This is the kind of story that should be taught in every public school and homeschool. We can’t come together unless we understand each other. I’m adding it to our 9th grade booklist.

I’d hand this to Middle School readers right on through adults.

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Book Review: Cub

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Let me begin with a general pitch for graphic novels. I was a late adapter, and now they will always be apart of both my recreational reading and the reading I assign in my home school. Today’s middle-grade graphic novels are not the comic books of your youth. (although I’ve come around to those too!) They aren’t a cheater type book, and they aren’t abridged or easier in any way. They are a full-fledged genre of their own told in full-length stories contained in paneled, sequential, graphic format. They are NOT merely collections of comic strips. You can find nearly any genre written in graphic novel format, including fantasy, realistic fiction, historical fiction, biography, and nonfiction. *Jumps down off soapbox, and stops posting like a recipe blogger*

I was lucky enough to get a copy real copy of this book back in December to read and review. The pay isn’t great with this review gig, but the perks are incredible!

In this book, Cindy is starting seventh grade and endures all that goes along with that age group of friends. The 1970s era atmosphere is sublime. Starting with her dress on the cover, to the outdated way her Dad treats her compared to her brothers, growing up during that time was tricky for a girl. Readers will notice the stark differences in how males treat female career aspirations during that time. Luckily, Cindy has excellent mentors to guide her. Our society has changed in so many ways, but not much in others:

Reporters have huge responsibility, especially now. Our country is in turmoil: chaos in the white house, a senseless war, environmental crises, women having to fight for equal rights…

Cub by Cynthia L. Copeland

I doubt you could get a gig as a cub reporter anywhere these days as newspapers struggle to keep paid reporters on board, and so this peek into history was a refreshing throwback to the days when printed word brought the news to your home. I especially liked the examples of how an article looks in editing. So many kids think that the first draft is the only draft, and this may help young writers see that everyone needs editing. Her writing evolves as she finds her voice and learns the skills of reporting.

Between learning to write (and rewrite), Cindy struggles with typical middle-grade issues of juggling old friends, new friends, boys, and bullies. I enjoyed every bit of it.

Book Release today! January 7, 2020