Book Review: A Field Guide to Getting Lost

Sutton is having robot problems. Her mini-bot is supposed to be able to get through a maze in under a minute, but she must have gotten something wrong in the coding. Which is frustrating for a science-minded girl like Sutton—almost as frustrating as the fact that her mother probably won’t be home in time for Sutton’s tenth birthday.

Luis spends his days writing thrilling stories about brave kids, but there’s only so much inspiration you can find when you’re stuck inside all day. He’s allergic to bees, afraid of dogs, and has an overprotective mom to boot. So Luis can only dream of daring adventures in the wild.

Sutton and Luis couldn’t be more different from each other. Except now that their parents are dating, these two have to find some common ground. Will they be able to navigate their way down a path they never planned on exploring?

Expected publication: April 14th 2020 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
What I think: Sutton and Luis meet when their parents start dating. They have nothing in common at all. Finding a way to get along or even maybe becoming friends (or step-siblings!) is a challenge. Sutton's mom is in Antarctica and is going to miss her 10th birthday and the robot she's working on. Luis is entirely different. Not sciencey at all. He writes stories about things he is afraid of (including dogs). They do begin to work together when they find themselves in a sticky situation. Funny, suspenseful, so sad at times, along with being filled with science and art and nature, Field Guide to Getting Lost is one of my favorite middle-grade books so far this year. Bonus points for depiction of academic homeschooling.

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Book Review: Temporary Wife Temptation

Much more than he bargained for…

“You want me to find you a wife?”

“No. I want you to be my wife.”

Garrett Song is this close to taking the reins of his family’s LA fashion empire…until the Song matriarch insists he marry her handpicked bride first. To block her matchmaking, he recruits Natalie Sobol to pose as his wife. She needs a fake spouse as badly as he does. But when passion burns down their chaste agreement, the flames could destroy them all…

Published February 4th 2020 by Harlequin Desire

My thoughts:

I’m a sucker for the fake marriage that turns into a real romance. Garrett knows what is expected of him by his family and he pushes against it all anyway for love. Swoon. This is only my third Harlequin book this year and so far they are hitting it out of the park. Two thumbs up for this book- it’s just what you need on a quiet snowy afternoon of cozy reading!

Book Review: Witness Protection Widow

New from Harlequin Intrigue: Seek thrills. Solve crimes. Justice served.

Can the witness protection program keep her identity secret?

After Allison James finally escapes her marriage to a monster, she becomes the star witness in the case against her deceased husband’s powerful crime family. Now it’s up to US Marshal Jaxson Stevens, Ali’s ex-boyfriend, to keep the WITSEC widow safe. But as the danger escalates and sparks fly, will Jax be able to help Ali escape her ruthless in-laws?

Published February 1st 2020 by Harlequin Intrigue

What did I think?

This new series is like a police procedural if you added romance and shook it up. This might be your gateway into romance if you normally read Patterson or Grisham. It’s a page turner full of suspense for sure. I normally pride myself in figuring out the upcoming plot twists, and in this one I was never really sure what direction the story would go.

Allison got married to a mob boss without knowing about his real job. The last three years of her marriage were spent as his prisoner after she discovered his mob ties and confronted him. When she witnessed her father in law kill her husband she escaped and went to the FBI.

The twist of her former boyfriend being her Witness Protection Marshall opened the door for them to reunite and find out why they had broken up in the first place.


			

Book Review: Thirteen Doorways Wolves Behind Them All

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This book is haunting. And not because one of the main characters is a ghost- because the prose, story, the voices that it evokes are like a misty cloud surrounding the reader from start to finish. As soon as I turned the final page, I wanted to start over again because I flat out sped read the last half needing to know how it would all unfold. Now I’d like to reread it knowing the answers and just let the words envelop me.


Three words caught my attention initially: Chicago Historical Fiction. If you are a frequent reader, you’ll note that I am biased towards a Chicago setting and so I went into this excited about the fact that it spans World War 2 between 1941-1946. It’s clear that the author did extensive research to make it as accurate as possible.


Let’s begin at the beginning with the title. Every woman knows about the wolves hiding behind the doorway. They’re all different, and we all know we’ll face them. This story isn’t a hit you over the head feminism book, and I didn’t even understand the title until I was more than halfway through reading.


Our narrator is a ghost named Pearl, we eventually get her whole story, including meeting some of her ghost friends, and it unfolds in a slow, but not the frustratingly slow way. She tells us Frankie’s account of spending her teen years in an orphanage with her sister and brother. Frankie’s brother gets yanked out of the orphanage by their Dad after he remarries and thinks he needs the manpower to run his store.

Honestly, I didn’t feel anything but anger towards the father. He’s oblivious at best and abusive at worst. Her brother is kind, but they are mostly separated as he ends up going to war. That leaves Frankie and her sister Toni to navigate life in the orphanage and then later with their stepfamily.
I’m feeling all the emotions after reading this one. I do know its one of the few books that I would recommend to teens and adults equally.

Book Review: Now Entering Addamsville

Who’s ready for some ghost hunting Halloween vibes?

From the publisher:

When someone burns down the home of the school janitor and he dies in the blaze, everyone in Addamsville, Indiana, points a finger at Zora. Never mind that Zora has been on the straight and narrow since her father was thrown in jail. With everyone looking for evidence against her, her only choice is to uncover the identity of the real killer. There’s one big problem—Zora has no leads. No one does. Addamsville has a history of tragedy, and thirty years ago a similar string of fires left several townspeople dead. The arsonist was never caught.

Now, Zora must team up with her cousin Artemis—an annoying self-proclaimed Addamsville historian—to clear her name. But with a popular ghost-hunting television show riling up the townspeople, almost no support from her family and friends, and rumors spinning out of control, things aren’t looking good. Zora will have to read between the lines of Addamsville’s ghost stories before she becomes one herself.

I read this one in a single sitting. I found the small town Indiana setting charming and realistic. The characters are all full of snark and the story simply never lagged. It has more than a little overlap with both Stranger Things and Riverdale. I don’t watch Supernatural but, I know enough of the plot to say that it compares to that too.

If you are looking for scary “light” this one’s for you. Paranormal yes, horror, no.

October 1, 2019

Book Review: Off the Sidelines

There are books that immediately capture my attention and after I start reading them I don’t stop until the end. There are other books that I start and then put aside and never go back to. This one is one of those in the middle. I began reading, put in down, picked it up, put it down, and finally finished it. There wasn’t anything wrong with it. Except that clearly I’m not the target audience and I should be as a voter.

All books cannot be all things to all people, that’s a given. However, Kirsten seems to want to inspire women to step up and get involved in politics. I fully support her admission that “having it all” is crap. You cannot have it all and be in successful in all things. Something has to suffer. I also liked the prevailing theme of “How can you get off the sidelines in your own life?” I think some men need that message too.

What this doesn’t do is convince me that Kirsten is the right person to be President of the United States. For one thing her ideas are coming completely from an upper middle class view point. Most people in the US right now can’t think about giving more to charity, or volunteering at a community garden because we are all working flat out to keep food on our tables.

What was helpful? Getting a peek into what working in our government is like. Honestly, it sounds like it sucks and maybe we should work on that so that our representatives maybe don’t burn out or get corrupt trying to make it all worth it.

Spliced

What happened to my older reviews??? Ugh. Typing this for the third time because I’m about to read Book 2: Splintered and I’m a huge fan of this series.

This story probably isn’t meant to be an allegory to the current state of attitudes towards minorities, but once you start reading it, you can’t help but notice the parallels to modern society. The topic at hand draws inspiration from various sources – from the discrimination against people of the LGBT community (in particular against transgender people), against people of color, immigrants and also from draconian legislation passed in regards to human rights. I moved this review up on my schedule so that I could help (in my smallish way) to build some buzz for this title. First, a definition:

Chimera (ki-mir-a) n. A person who pays back-alley geneticists to splice animal genes into their own illegally.

The MC Jimi was a bit aggravating at the start of the book, with her ‘disgust’ about the ‘terrible mistake’ the chimeras are making. She doesn’t understand her friend Del and worries about all the implications of becoming a Chimera, especially after they witness a police officer becoming overly violent while he is apprehending some chimeras.

I’m not sure if I would call Spliced science fiction or dystopia? It is a world in which human gene editing has become possible, and human-animal chimeras exist. In this dystopia, climate change has taken its toll, and only cities have power- the suburbs (zurbs) are kind of no man’s land where people live off the grid. Spliced imagines a world where local legislation robs the chimeras of their rights as humans, and how quickly the hate-groups can utilize the neutrality of people who stay silent on the issue to harm the disenfranchised. I think this is an excellent book for parents and teens to read and discuss.

Bonus, the author, has a website where you can upload a photo and get Spliced!

Spliced By Jon McGoran September 29, 2017

Windy City Reader

This story probably isn’t meant to be an allegory to the current state of attitudes towards minorities, but once you start reading it, you can’t help but notice the parallels to modern society. The topic at hand draws inspiration from various sources – from the discrimination against people of the LGBT community (in particular against transgender people), against people of color, immigrants and also from draconian legislation passed in regards to human rights. I moved this review up on my schedule so that I could help (in my smallish way) to build some buzz for this title. First a definition:

Chimera (ki-mir-a) n. A person who pays back-alley geneticists to splice animal genes into their own illegally.

The MC Jimi was a bit aggravating at the start of the book, with her ‘disgust’ about the ‘terrible mistake’ the chimeras are making. She simply doesn’t understand her friend Del and worries…

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