How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure Review & Giveaway

This is a book I’m keeping on my keeper shelf because I know I’ll reach for it time and time again.  It’s a great resource and reference for any parent or educator who is frustrated with screen time and is just out of ideas on how to proceed.

When presented with the opportunity to read this book, I wasn’t sure right away as I saw it was written for middle schoolers and adolescents.  I have much younger kids but still see them on a screen way too often.  And as someone who works full-time, I admit that occasionally it becomes a babysitter while I’m in a meeting or have to finish a task.  My 6-year-old has lost his love for toys now that he has an iPad available at all times.  But at the same time, I don’t want to shove a book in his hand and take away his willingness to want to read.  So I figured it could be adapted to the younger crowd.

And it was.  I love how it’s written for parents who have no background in education.  I mean, I’m a book blogger and refuse to fall asleep unless I read first.  My daughter has started to do this too.  My son is harder to get through to.  Now that he has started learning to read and can get through Dr. Seuss and Mo Willems, it’s more common but I still would like less screen time.

There’s a ton of recommended books that Newton provides no matter what subject matter or interest the child has.  I even wrote a few down that sounded right up my alley.  And she definitely provides outside-the-box strategies for encouraging reading at all times, even when driving in the car or there’s a group of kids together.

This book can easily be read in 2 hours and will even give you ways to encourage speaking about reading and gives gift suggestions.  It can also appeal to those who love screens by making a movie date out of a book that is just recently adapted.  I definitely recommend having it available or gifting it to a special teacher for the holidays.

About the author: Kaye Newton lives outside Nashville, TN with her husband, three kids, and two lively dogs. “Incision Decisions”, her first book, won a silver medal at the 2017 Readers’ Favorite Awards.

My thanks to the author for the review copy and for providing a copy for a giveaway.  U.S. only, please.  To enter, leave a comment answering “What is your struggle with screen time?”  One random commenter will be chosen on Sunday, October 28.

When Elephants Fly Review & Giveaway

This could easily be my favorite YA novel of the year.  While it deals with heavy subjects including mental illness, acceptance, and animal conservation and abuse, it also features a kick-ass protagonist who grows through the novel and becomes a woman who puts her life second, behind saving the one creature she’s grown to love.

It is cliche to say you will laugh and cry while reading this book but it’s absolutely true.  T. Lily Decker is a high school senior who is terrified of developing schizophrenia, just like her mother.  While interning at the local paper, she heads out on assignment to cover the story of a new baby elephant born at the zoo.  As Lily knows firsthand, being abandoned by your mother is not easy.  So when the calf, Swifty, is rejected by its mother, Lily learns she can’t quite give up the story or the animal.

I loved how through her journey, Lily learned that the world was bigger than just her and her fears.  Not only that, but she was able to inspire others to fight for her cause.   When the story ended, I had a hard time letting go of these characters.  I could have easily followed them for months longer.

Please don’t skip this just because it’s classified as YA.  It only is because some of the main characters are in high school.  If you enjoyed The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman or All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, you will also love this novel.  This book will have you laughing one minute, crying the next, and aching for a Swifty of your own.

My thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

About the author: Nancy Richardson Fischer is a graduate of Cornell University, a published author with children’s, teen and adult titles to her credit, including Star Wars titles for Lucas Film and numerous athlete autobiographies, such as Julie Krone, Bela Karolyi and Monica Seles. She lives in the Pacific Northwest.

Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Rush Review & Giveaway

Rush: A Novel (Hardcover)


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Mix together The Help and Erin Brockovich and you are presented with Lisa Patton’s newest tale, taking place in 2016 at the University of Mississippi during sorority rush.

When I was in college, I personally chose not to pledge.  However, many friends did and reading this book gave some clear (and fun) insight into how the process works.  It was entertaining to see it from the point of view of the pledges, as well as sorority staff and pledges’ parents.

I love how this book is told through the viewpoints of Miss Pearl, longtime African-American housekeeper of the Alpha Delts house; Cali Watkins, a new freshman trying to find her way; and Wilda, Cali’s dorm neighbor and close friend’s mother.  Through their viewpoints, we meet the remaining staff of the sorority house as well as other pledges and their families.  You’ll find a character you love to hate, always a pleasure.

This book will translate so well to screen.  Miss Pearl just came alive off the page.  As I was reading, I felt as if I was watching the movie in my head.  We may as well just call Viola Davis right now, save the casting director a step.

If you want to relive your college days or are just looking for the next great Southern novel, I recommend you stop the search because you’ll find it in Rush.  Can’t wait to hear your thoughts after finishing.

My thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

About the author: Lisa Patton, best selling author of Whistlin’ Dixie in a Nor’easter, Yankee Doodle Dixie, and Southern as a Second Language, is a Memphis, Tennessee native who spent time as a Vermont innkeeper until three sub-zero winters sent her speeding back down South. She has over 20 years experience working in the music and entertainment business, and is a graduate of the University of Alabama. The proud mother of two sons, eight bonus children, and eleven grandchildren, Lisa lives in the rolling hills of Nashville with her husband and their four-legged furry daughter named Rosie.

Thanks to the publisher, I have one finished copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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The Lost Family Review

The Lost Family: A Novel (Hardcover)


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What a treasure this was.

Peter Rashkin survived Auschwitz but lost his wife and twin daughters.  Now he runs a successful restaurant dedicated to his wife’s memory.  When he meets the young and glamorous June, he quickly realizes she may be the woman he wants to start his life anew with.

I have a special place in my heart for a family saga, and this story definitely fit the bill.  I love how each section was told from a different character’s point of view.  But being told chronologically, the switch still propelled the story forward and gave us insight to each member of the Rashkin family.  They all struggled, yet for different reasons, and you’ll quickly learn not one was a good communicator.

I thought Blum did a tremendous job of writing these characters as three-dimensional.  The descriptions of people and places were top notch that is was so easy to picture them.  When this translates to film, the casting and costume department will have no trouble setting it up because of how well they were written.

‘This book is a page turner in the sense you want to see how everything plays out and what happens in the Rashkins’ lives, but it was so beautifully written that you want to savor every sentence.

I truly enjoyed The Stormchasers by this author and now need to go back and read Those Who Save Us since so many people said that was her best read.

My thanks to Wunderkind PR for the review copy.

About the author: JENNA BLUM is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of novels THOSE WHO SAVE US and THE STORMCHASERS and the novella “The Lucky One” in the postwar collection GRAND CENTRAL. Jenna is also one of Oprah’s Top 30 Women Writers.

Jenna’s debut novel THOSE WHO SAVE US was a New York Times bestseller; a Boston Globe bestseller; the winner of the 2005 Ribalow Prize, adjudged by Elie Wiesel; a BORDERS book club pick, a perennial book club favorite, and the # 1 bestselling novel in Holland. Jenna’s second novel, THE STORMCHASERS, is a Boston Globe bestseller, a Target Emerging Authors pick, and a bestseller in Holland and France. Jenna’s newest work, her novella “The Lucky One,” was published in anthology GRAND CENTRAL, published by Penguin in July 2014.

Jenna has been writing since she was 4 and professionally since she was 16, when she won Seventeen Magazine’s National Fiction Contest with her short story “The Legacy of Frank Finklestein.” Jenna is a graduate of Kenyon College (B.A., English) and Boston University (M.A., Creative Writing); she taught creative writing and journalism for Boston University for five years, was editor of AGNI literary magazine, and has taught fiction for 20 years for Boston’s Grub Street Writers, where she currently teaches master novel workshops. Dividing her time between Boston and the Midwest, Jenna has written the screenplay for THOSE WHO SAVE US and is writing her fourth novel. Jenna loves to visit book clubs in person, by phone, and via Skype. Please contact her on Facebook (Jenna Blum), on Twitter (@jenna_blum) and on her website, www.jennablum.com.

Boardwalk Summer Review & Giveaway

Boardwalk Summer: A Novel (Paperback)


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Having read and reviewed Meredith’s debut, The Dressmaker’s Dowry, I was eager to get my hands on her newest.  Might I say I enjoyed this one even more?  You guys, this is the perfect beach read.

Alternating between Santa Cruz in 2007 and 1940, we are first introduced to Violet Harcourt, a beauty queen with a troubling secret.  In 2007, Marisol Cruz, a single mother and waitress, is doing everything in her power to preserve the town’s history when she first notices a photograph of Violet.  Her research leads to some startling discoveries.

I was completely swept up in both stories and couldn’t wait to find out more background.  It was obvious that a lot of historical research was done and the author had me hooked from the first chapter.  I felt all the characters were fully formed and made the right choices given their backgrounds.

For me, and what kept me from a full 5 stars, was just the coincidence of how a few storylines played out.  Instead of it being a surprise, I just felt it was too convenient and unrealistic.  I don’t want to share more as to avoid spoilers.  That being said, I will be thrilled to continue reading Meredith’s work.

If you are a fan of historical fiction, this is such a light read and would be perfect for a beach bag or plane ride.  In fact, I started it on the plane and would have finished if not for my lack of sleep the 3 days prior.

My thanks to the publisher for a review copy.

About the author: USA Today bestselling author Meredith Jaeger was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, the daughter of a Swiss father and an American mother. While working for a San Francisco start-up, Meredith fulfilled her dream of writing a novel, the result of which was The Dressmaker,s Dowry. Meredith lives in Alameda with her husband, their infant daughter, and their bulldog.

 

Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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Best Beach Reads of 2018

This summer’s list is a bit longer than normal as it’s been an amazing year of incredible reads.  Here are my most recommended for your 2018 summer!

The Husband Hour by Jamie Brenner

Taking place on the Jersey shore,  Brenner seamlessly tackles many tough subjects ranging from grief to CTE to deployment to guilt.  You will easily lose yourself in this story.

 

Boardwalk Summer by Meredith Jaeger

A story of the 1940s entwined with one of today, Jaeger knows how to grip her audience from the very first page.  I loved the scenes from Hollywood and the sweet underlying love story.

 

Best Friends Forever by Margot Hunt

Just when you think you know how this one will play out, Hunt pulls the seat out from under you.  Read my full review here.

 

 

The Awkward Path to Getting Lucky by Summer Heacock

I laughed out loud at the situations these friends found themselves in.  Between chaos at their bakery and their attempts at love, this relatable debut is one not to be missed.  Read my full review here.

 

Slider by Pete Hautman

Yes, this is a middle grade novel but adults will find the undertones of the importance of family endearing while the kids will think the antics of competitive eating are hilarious.  A great story for the whole family.

 

Eden by Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg

A multigenerational book that alternates between past and present, this engrossing debut will have you hoping the author is at work on a new novel.  Read my full review here.

 

Say Nothing by Brad Parks

I am all for a breakneck thriller that has me turning the pages and this one delivers.  Full of surprises, Parks masters the tension to make this storyline plausible and fun.

 

Class Mom by Laurie Gelman

Now that school has ended for the summer, you will appreciate the snark in Gelman’s debut even more.  Read my full review here.

 

 

What have you packed in your beach bag this summer?  Please share your favorites.  This post contains affiliate links.

We Own the Sky Review

We Own the Sky: A Novel (Hardcover)


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I knew when I turned the first page of this novel and read the author’s note, it would be a heart-wrenching read.  And it was.  However, the end left me with hope and an uplifting message.

From back cover: Rob Coates feels like he’s won the lottery of life. There is Anna, his incredible wife, their London town house and, most precious of all, Jack, their son, who makes every day an extraordinary adventure. But when a devastating illness befalls his family, Rob’s world begins to unravel. Suddenly finding himself alone, Rob seeks solace in photographing the skyscrapers and clifftops he and his son Jack used to visit. And just when it seems that all hope is lost, Rob embarks on the most unforgettable of journeys to find his way back to life, and forgiveness.

We Own the Sky is a tender, heartrending, but ultimately life-affirming novel that will resonate deeply with anyone who has suffered loss or experienced great love. With stunning eloquence and acumen, Luke Allnutt has penned a soaring debut and a true testament to the power of love, showing how even the most thoroughly broken heart can learn to beat again.

What I loved so much about this book is that Allnutt does an exquisite job of writing a man’s perspective.  It’s so rare to see this from a male writer outside of a thriller.  Of course Rob had flaws like any human, and they were shown, but I believed in his love for his son and for his family.

And, yes, the tears flowed.  But they were cleansing tears.  Hard to read but worth it for the outcome.  Definitely warning those who won’t want to read a book about the loss of a child.  I’m thankful I have never experienced this myself, but the story seemed so genuine.  All of the situations and relationships did.

My thanks to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Luke Allnutt is the author of Unspoken, a Kindle Single about the death of his father. His debut novel, We Own The Sky, will be published by Orion (U.K.) and Harlequin/HarperCollins (U.S.) in 2018. He grew up in the U.K. and lives and works in Prague.

Connect with Luke

Website | Twitter

Before I Let You Go Review & Giveaway

Before I Let You Go (Paperback)


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Oh, this book has my heart.  What a compelling, emotional journey I just returned from.

Lexie receives a call at 2:00 am that nobody is prepared to hear.  Her sister, Annie, who she hasn’t spoken to in years, is in trouble.  Lexie rushes to her aid and finds her living in a dirty trailer, addicted to drugs, and pregnant.  Having always rescued Annie in times of trouble, Lexie makes it s point to make sure Annie gets help again.  But with the law working against her, it isn’t as easy this time.

I loved how addiction, while a main focus, wasn’t the only issue brought up in this novel.  Rimmer also confronts abuse, religious sects, death, legal battles, learning to be an adult before you’re ready, and the struggles of balancing it all.  There are so many subjects to foster a great book discussion here, so if your book club is looking for new fiction, this would be a perfect choice.

If you’re a fan of heartbreaking, yet heartwarming fiction and enjoyed books such as Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, Still Alice by Lisa Genova, and Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah, this is one you’ll definitely want to get your hands on.  And I guarantee it will quickly become a favorite

Be prepared to shed some tears.  For me, the cry was a cleansing, and I felt better after having finished it.  Hug your sisters and your brothers and your mothers and your fathers and your children a little tighter today.  And then tell them they need to read this book.

I received an advanced copy from Little Bird Publicity and the publisher.

About the author:

I write contemporary women’s fiction. My novels, Me Without You, The Secret Daughter, When I Lost You and A Mother’s Confession have been published by Bookouture.

You can find some more information about me at www.kellyrimmer.com.

Thanks to Little Bird Publicity, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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The Final Six Review & Giveaway

The Final Six (Hardcover)


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I have always been a fan of dystopian reads, my favorites being Station Eleven for adults and Life as We Knew It for YA.  With the release of The Final Six, I now have another to add to the list.

Reading this book felt like The Hunger Games meets Divergent in space.   I am not a big sci-fi fan, yet I was yearning to return to the story to see what would happen next.  So please don’t discount this book even if it’s outside your favorite genre.

With so much of life on Earth gone because of natural disasters, NASA decides to enlist 24 teenagers to train and compete to make up a final 6 to fly to Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons, and set up a civilization in hopes to perpetuate life there.  The teens are chosen in a ceremony after being carefully vetted based on what skills they can bring to the necessary mission.  Two standouts are Naomi from the United States, a tech and science expert, and Leo from Italy, stupendous in his underwater skills.

The narration switches off between Leo and Naomi.  Along the way they have to watch out for others trying to sabotage them and coming to grips that they might leave Earth and their families forever.

I loved the training and simulations for their mission.  And I was pleasantly surprised at some of the twists throughout the way.  Given that this genre can be saturated, I enjoyed space as a new concept.  Fans of movies like Gravity and Apollo 13 will find a lot to like in this story.  I’m eager to discover what’s next for these teens in the next book, which is hopefully coming soon!  So thrilled, also, that this has already been optioned for film, because it will be great to see this adventure come to life.

My thanks to the publisher and MB Communications for the review copy.

About the author:

Author and recording artist Alexandra Monir broke onto the scene in her early twenties with the release of her popular debut YA novel, the paranormal romance TIMELESS (Delacorte Press/Random House). The book caught on quickly, landing on the Barnes & Noble Bestsellers chart and being named one of Amazon’s “Best Books of the Month.” The sequel, TIMEKEEPER, was published in 2013. Both books in the series have been featured in a variety of media, from USA Today to teen magazines and websites such as J-14, JustJaredJr, Teen.com and Justine Magazine. SUSPICION (Random House; December 9, 2014) marks Alexandra’s first novel outside of the TIMELESS series, as well as her first foray into the mystery genre. Her fourth YA novel for Random House will be published in April 2016.

Alexandra is also a singer/songwriter, known for integrating music into her books’ pages. She wrote and recorded three original songs to accompany the TIMELESS books, released as the album “The Timeless EP” and distributed by Jimmy Buffett’s record label, Mailboat Records. She additionally recorded a new song to be released along with SUSPICION, and is composing a stage musical geared toward Broadway. Alexandra is the granddaughter of the late Monir Vakili, the foremost Persian opera singer.

Alexandra currently resides in Los Angeles, California. She has been invited to speak at middle schools and high schools across the country, and at major events including Comic-Con, Bouchercon, the Iranian-American Women’s Leadership Conference, and New York Public Library’s annual Teen Author Festival, among others.

Thanks to MB Communications, I have a copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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A Piece of the World Review & Giveaway

A Piece of the World: A Novel (Paperback)


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After having read and loved Orphan Train, I knew when this book released that I wanted to read it.  Unfortunately, life and time got in the way and I didn’t have a chance.  So I was thrilled when TLC Book Tours asked if I’d be interested in helping to promote the book for its paperback release.

I had never seen or heard of the painting that is the subject of this novel, Christina’s World, by artist Andrew Wyeth.  I’m kind of glad I went into it blind because it provided a unique reading experience in which I learned something new.  And I loved the author’s note and acknowledgements because she provided her inspiration for the story after having come across the painting.

From the back cover: To Christina Olson, the entire world is her family farm in the small coastal town of Cushing, Maine. The only daughter in a family of sons, Christina is tied to her home by health and circumstance, and seems destined for a small life. Instead, she becomes Andrew Wyeth’s first great inspiration, and the subject of one of the best-known paintings of the twentieth century, Christina’s World.

This book had so much to offer: family ties, relationships, artistry, exploration, finding a sense of place.  But my favorite was reading Christina’s back story, how her childhood and teenage years shaped her.  You couldn’t help but feel sympathetic for the way she grew up and all her tribulations, yet she was the victim of her own choices at times.  If you are a historical fiction fan, this is a must read.

Even if you’ve already read and enjoyed the hardcover, you’re going to want to get a copy of the paperback not only because the cover is luminescent and colorful but because it contains an exclusive interview with bestselling author Kristin Hannah and a connected stand-alone story that didn’t appear in the original.

My thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Christina Baker Kline

Christina Baker Kline is the author of six novels, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Orphan Train as well as A Piece of the World. She lives outside New York City and spends as much time as possible on the coast of Maine. Learn more about Christina at www.christinabakerkline.com.

Connect with Christina on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
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