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Prepublication Reviews and Expertly Selected Title Lists

Archive for the category “Book Reviews – Becky”

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Tell Me Three ThingsJulie Buxbaum’s YA debut, Tell Me Three Things, may be one of the most popular young adult contemporary reads this year.  We all know what it’s like to have our world turned upside down; that’s exactly what happens to Jessie, our heroine, whose mother dies. Jessie’s father elopes with a woman he met online, leaving her with a step-monster (oh, I meant stepmother). And now Jessie has to attend a super-intimidating Los Angeles prep school, Wood Valley High School, on the other side of the country. Jessie’s new step-monster has a teenage son to top it off, who is not interested in helping her adjust to her new life in the least.

When Jessie is just about ready to give up and head back to Chicago, she gets help from an anonymous source who calls themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN). SN emails her and offers to be her lifeline at Wood Valley High School.  Is someone out to get Jessie, or can she truly rely on what seems to be her only ally in life?  Will Jessie ever be able to call Los Angeles home?

This is such a funny, relatable book, and a quick read.  Plenty of characters and a great storyline will keep you hooked to the end.  Tell Me Three Things is a definite addition to your shelf this spring.

– Becky

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Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Salt to the SeaHistory jumps off the page and into life with Ruta Sepetys’ latest novel Salt to the Sea.  While there are many stories told of WWII, this is a lesser known tale brought to life at Sepetys’ skillful hand.

As part of thousands of refugees, we are drawn into the stories of Joana, Emilia, and Florian as they meet on their way to freedom aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff ship.  We are swept along in this action-packed adventure as the unthinkable happens: the Wilhelm Gustloff is attacked by a Russian submarine and sinks.  Joana, Emilia, and Florian each carry their own secrets. They must band together and rely on each other’s strength for sheer survival.

This is a great book to add to your YA collection. It not only sheds light on the worst maritime disaster in ever, it also reveals a generation whose strength and courage is now told primarily through the pages of history as we lose those who fought insurmountable odds to strengthen generations to come.

– Becky

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The Nine Lives of Jacob Tibbs by Cylin Busby

The Nine Lives of Jacob TibbsI love when an author transports a reader to another time and place—which is exactly the case with this tale, told from the perspective of a ship’s cat on the high seas in the 1800s.

Jacob Tibbs, the runt of the litter, is passed over as all of his brothers and sisters find new ship homes.  But luckily he’s inherited hunting skills and weather-sensing abilities from his mother. This makes him an important part of his ship’s crew. We see his sometimes wobbly existence as he navigates the path of growing up — all within the world of a life at sea complete with storms, a shipwreck, and even a mutiny.

The story is well-balanced and while there is no true villain, there is quite a range of characters and emotions. Kids of all ages will love the story of The Nine Lives of Jacob Tibbs. This will be a great addition to your library for anyone ready to go on an adventure to the high seas.

– Becky

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Christmas Bells by Jennifer Chaverini

Christmas BellsI like Jennifer Chaverini but I have to admit that I haven’t read one of her books in quite some time. I’m not a huge fan of Christmas books because they tend to create images of snowy nights and the world at peace (when it’s not); however, I was taken in by this book.

Chaverini does a brilliant job of interweaving the stories of a teacher who is about to be downsized, a family that has a father serving in Afghanistan, and the story of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

While it may take a minute to place the characters as you move through their stories, the depth and quality of the story is superb.  I would recommend this for any library collection. I believe it will circulate for years to come, and it will bring a whole new life to the Christmas song and Wadsworth poem I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day  

When I hear the bells this Christmas, I know I’ll think fondly of this book and hope that one day we will have good will and peace towards all men.

– Becky

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Serendipity’s Footsteps by Suzanne Nelson

Serendipitys FootstepsSometimes a necklace, or blanket, or even a pair of shoes can tell a story — a story of love, family, dreams, and heartbreak. In “Serendipity’s Footsteps”, you travel through time and learn about a single pair of shoes and their meaning.

This story features three special young women — Dalya, Ray and Pinny. Dalya’s world is torn apart as a young Jewish girl who is sent to a concentration camp. She leaves behind the things that she thinks matter the most to her.  Ray and Pinny are both orphans on the run, both seeking more. Ray dreams of making it to New York City to attend Juilliard, and Pinny dreams of finding her mother again.

The author, Suzanne Nelson, does a superb job of bringing history alive. You feel as if you are transported back to Dayla’s era.  I think there will be a great number of teens captivated by the special pair of shoes and the young women whose stories are woven into their legacy.

– Becky

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Pig and Small by Alex Latimer

Pig and SmallPig and Small is a fun children’s book about the differences between friends.

The book starts because Pig has a squeak.  He can’t get rid of Bug.  Bug wants to be friends even though he and Pig are different.  At first it seems as though Bug and Pig may not overcome their differences, but there is always a way to find common ground.

With cute animals, fun illustrations, and a catchy story, this is a great addition to any children’s collection.  It will teach kids to look past their own differences and how no matter how different you think you are, you always have something in common with others.

– Becky

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Herb of Grace by Adina Senft

Herb of GraceSarah Yoder is an Amish widow, struggling after the death of her husband to raise two teenage sons.  She would rather spend her time gardening than quilting but needs to provide for her family. 

A local Amish healer, Ruth, believes that Sarah has a gift for growing plants and wants her to become an herbal healer.  Ruth wants to help her, but Sarah is reluctant.

Meanwhile, Henry Byler has returned to Willow Creek after being away for many years.  His aunt left him the family farm adjacent to Sarah’s.  He has his own issues to deal with.  Henry’s the furthest thing from plain or is he?

With a complex mix of both younger and older characters and a complex story line, this book is truly a success.  This is the beginning of the Healing Grace series and I can’t wait to read the rest!  Adina Senft is an author I’ll look forward to reading!

– Becky

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A Year After Henry by Cathie Pelletier

A Year After HenryGrief is a horrible but unavoidable part of life.  We grieve lose in our lives, but especially those we love.

Set in Maine, Cathie weaves a great story about a flawed man and those who loved him.  Henry Munroe passed away a year ago and his family is trying to move on.  That’s easier said than done.

His widow, Jeanie, realized he was cheating shortly before he died.  His mistress, Evie Cooper, whose complicated personal history of being able to see dead people and working at the local bar, paints some interesting scenes.  His brother, Larry, whose wife has left him, taken his son, and has lost his job, is now a mailman as Henry was and is having a definite breakdown.  Henry’s rebellious son, Chad, is trying to find his way without his larger than life father.

As they approach a memorial service being held a year after Henry’s death, will they ever be able to get over him?

While this book should seem sad, this menagerie of characters makes for a great and surprisingly funny in spots, read.

– Becky

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Between Us Girls by Sally John

Between Us GirlsJasmyn Albright’s life has fallen apart.  She’s lost everything she’s owned, not once but twice.  First from a devastating tornado and then her rental car, containing all of her things, is stolen. 

She’s landed in front of Casa de Vida in Seaside Village, CA, where there are 11 quaint bungalows and a motley crew of residents including manager, owner, and mother-hen, Liv.

Liv takes Jasmyn under her wing and enlists the other residents of Casa de Vida to welcome her.  Keegan, who owns a local gym, is quiet but there’s quite a bit going on beneath the surface.  Sam is an engineer, whose environmentally friendly projects have earned her a spot working on a new casino on an Indian reservation, and is having to confront her past.

The residents at Casa de Vida are a family of sorts each with their own unique issues.  While Jasmyn only intends on staying a few weeks she keeps finding more reasons that this may really be home.

This is a great book.  I had never really read any of Sally John’s novels before but this three-time Christy finalist and bestselling Christian Fiction author has me ready to go to my library and see what else I can find.

– Becky

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Beautiful on the Mountain by Jeannie Light

Beautiful on the MountainSometimes life takes us places we never image we’ll go.  For Jeannie Light, she lived a picture perfect life.  She had a beautiful plantation home in Virginia, when her world came apart.

Suddenly, she finds herself divorced and owning a track of land in the back hollers of Virginia.

As she begins to roll up her shirt sleeves and find her new life, an older gentleman believes she’s the answer to the ghost town’s prayers.  The town calls upon Jeannie to reopen the church that’s been dormant for years.  With no training, she nervously takes on the challenge.

This is a great Inspirational Nonfiction book.  With so many people trying to figure out how to navigate their own personal change, Jeannie is certainly inspiring in the way she handled her change with grace and grit.  This book is definitely Christian in nature, but Jeannie’s story will appeal to many.

– Becky

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