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: Gold Rush Girl

Newbery Medalist Avi brings us mud-caked, tent-filled San Francisco in 1848 with a willful heroine who goes on an unintended — and perilous — adventure to save her brother.

Victoria Blaisdell longs for independence and adventure, and she yearns to accompany her father as he sails west in search of real gold! But it is 1848, and Tory isn’t even allowed to go to school, much less travel all the way from Rhode Island to California. Determined to take control of her own destiny, Tory stows away on the ship. Though San Francisco is frenzied and full of wild and dangerous men, Tory finds freedom and friendship there. Until one day, when Father is in the gold fields, her younger brother, Jacob, is kidnapped. And so Tory is spurred on a treacherous search for him in Rotten Row, a part of San Francisco Bay crowded with hundreds of abandoned ships. Beloved storyteller Avi is at the top of his form as he ushers us back to an extraordinary time of hope and risk, brought to life by a heroine readers will cheer for. Spot-on details and high suspense make this a vivid, absorbing historical adventure.

Expected publication: March 10th 2020 by Candlewick Press

What did I think?

I’m a huge Avi fangirl. Some of my very favorite MG books have inspired long rabbit trails through history in our homeschool. If you have a kid who loved Charlotte Doyle or even his Oliver Cromwell books this one is a bit like that. It’s deliciously long, most MG books will cut the adventure off to make the book easier to get through for reluctant readers, not the case with Avi at all. The reader gets to read every twist and turn of the adventure as if you are a fly on the wall.

I liked Tory and was rooting for her to succeed in her quest for a more “free”? life for herself. I actually didn’t care whether she found her brother or not as he annoyed me with his constant whining. I was rooting for her and her friends and hoping they didn’t get hurt in the search. In the end the story is more centered on all of them, and it’s set up for a sequel, which is awesome.

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Book Review: The Strangers (Greystone Secrets, #1)

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Are you looking for a Middle-Grade mystery series? I wasn’t really- until I found this one. Now, I’m hooked and reading an advanced copy of the sequel. If you’ve read any of the many novels by this author, you’ll be expecting a twisty, turny plot, and you will not be disappointed here.
Chess, Emma, and Finn Greystone are siblings living a normal life when one day they see a strange news story on TV that tells of three siblings with their exact same names that get kidnapped in Arizona. Very soon after that, their Mom announces that she is going away on business and doesn’t know when she’ll be returning.
Why would these kids have the same names as them? That is only the beginning of the puzzles, riddles, and underlying weirdness that the kids encounter as they try to piece together the truth in their circumstances. This middle-grade novel has more than a little in common with the Stranger Things series, and we were so ready for it. My fourteen-year-old son and I took turns reading it aloud, so don’t be afraid to age this one up into the YA range, although younger kids with a good attention span will enjoy it too.

Publication date April 7, 2019

Sequel- The Deceivers scheduled for publication April 7, 2020