Prepublication Reviews and Expertly Selected Title Lists

Archive for the category “Book Reviews – Becky”

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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The Beekeeper’s Ball by Susan Wiggs

The Beekeeper's BallI love a great surprise.  When I read Apple Orchard, last year, by Susan Wiggs, the first in her Bella Vista Chronicles, I was hooked and looking forward to the next installment.  The Beekeeper’s Ball shattered all of my expectations. 

The story is set in the beautiful Sonoma Valley. It reminds me of the book and movie, Under the Tuscan Sun, but it’s even more than that.  Isabel has lived at Bella Vista all of her life.  It’s a working orchard and after some good luck, it’s also now going to become a cooking school.

Isabel, tragically lost both of her parents, at her birth so she was raised by her grandfather, Magnus, and his beautiful wife, whom they’ve lost to cancer many years ago.  Tess, her half-sister, whom she recently met, is now getting married.  Isabel is planning the wedding, as the first of many wonderful events that will take place at the new Bella Vista.  She’s also trying to get past some ghosts in her own past.

Cormac O’Neil, better known as Mac, is coming to write her grandfather, Magnus’, memoir.

Mac has spent his whole life telling others stories and has never stayed in one place for long.  He’s come to tell Magnus’ story of surviving the Nazis during World War II in Demark.  He may have found the sweetest place on earth, but would he be able to stay.

This book will be a keeper for years to come!

– Becky

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A Season of Change by Lynette Sowell

A Season of ChangeAs the seasons change in life, the older you get, the more you realize things change. 

The Millers, Jacob, Zeke and Rebecca, are a young Amish family.  Reeling from the loss of his wife, Hannah, and child that died in child birth, Jacob takes the children to Pinecraft, Florida to visit Jacob’s grandparents.   While there, Rebecca is struck by a car.

While in the hospital recovering, Rebecca and her family meet Natalie Bennett, a former circus performer who is volunteering at the hospital as a clown to bring joy to the children.  Natalie has her own family drama.  Her father is remarried, living in California and is too busy for his oldest daughter.  Her mother, whom she just found out was raised Amish, recently passed away from cancer.

As Natalie finds herself with questions about her mother’s background, she also finds that this family has a hold on her heart.  As the young Miller family now takes up residence in Pinecraft as Rebecca heals, will their hearts heal as well?

While this is the first book in the Seasons in Pinecraft series and the first book I’ve read from Sowell, with the well-crafted, emotion filled story, this will certainly not be the last.  With Amish and Mennonite fiction being more popular than ever, I would add this new series to my shelf today.  Amish fiction fans will love this new story as much as I do.

– Becky

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A Season to Remember by Carson Tinker

A Season to RememberI’ve recently entered the college football world.  I have some dear friends that love LSU, Oklahoma State, and Penn State, so when I saw A Season to Remember, I was intrigued.  How did Alabama win after such devastating loss just a few months earlier?

All of us have losses in life and Carson Tinker experienced tremendous loss on April 27, 2011 when a horrible tornado ripped through Tuscaloosa.  He lost his girlfriend, his home, everything but the clothes on his back and his pickup truck.  He would have to battle back to being a snapper on his team.

Carson shares the stories of others around him and how win by win, on and off the football field and filled with a positive attitude and plenty of heart, not only the Crimson Tide but all of Tuscaloosa, came back.

Since Carson’s faith is a huge part of this book, I would definitely classify this as Christian Nonfiction.  However, Carson’s love of football and the strength exhibited by him and his teammates will appeal to anyone who loves a story of perseverance.

– Becky

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Armond Goes to a Party by Nancy Carlson and Armond Isaak

Armond Goes to a PartyKids are so inquisitive, but it’s hard for them to sometimes figure out why another child is different.  All kinds of questions can go through their heads.  If another kid is sick with cancer, will I catch it, etc.  So when I found this book about a young boy with Asperger’s I was intrigued.

We see, through the eyes of a young boy with Asperger’s, Armond join along in a noisy kid’s birthday party.  This is definitely a place he would rather not be.

I think this will be a great story to share in your library for story time and for parents looking for an easy way to answer the question of why doesn’t Armond like parties like I do.  It will also give parents/teachers a great story of indifference to share with their children.  This is an awesome picture book on Asperger’s and even the youngest readers will be able to follow along.  I would add this to my shelf today.

– Becky

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Patient for Pumpkins by Linda L. Knoll

PumpkinI love as the weather warms up you can head to the local grower’s or farmer’s markets.  They crop up everywhere.  So when I saw a really colorful children’s book Patient for Pumpkins due out in April I was truly intrigued.

This is a great story of a boy who thinks he’s going to get a pumpkin at the farmer’s market in April, but instead finds a ton of other things to try while he’s waiting for his pumpkin.  As the young boy wanders the market with his Dad, he gets to try cool things like different berries, broccoli, and artichokes.  As we are told the progress of the pumpkin at the farm, the boy makes more trips to the farmer’s market with his Dad buying more fresh items.

This is a really great way for you to introduce seasonal local products to children in a very kid friendly manner.  The way Knoll sets the scene of music playing and people crowding the streets was wonderful.  I can’t wait until the farmer’s markets are open in our neck of the woods.

– Becky

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