Prepublication Reviews and Expertly Selected Title Lists

Archive for the tag “Book Review”

Hunt for the Bamboo Rat by Graham Salisbury

Hunt for the Bamboo RatHunt for the Bamboo Rat is a gripping narrative of a young Japanese American boy named Zenji Watanabe. Zenji was recruited into the U.S. Army as a spy during the early tensions between Japan and America.

Captured by the Japanese, he is accused of being a traitor for working for the U.S. He endures years of torture and abuse and suffers through unimaginable hardships while they attempt to force a confession out of him. Never once does he give in and admit he was anything except a U.S. civilian.

This story is well written and easy to read. It has a fantastic flow and is very hard to put down. Graham Salisbury’s writing is so detailed. He paints you a picture so clear you can actually see the story come to life.

– Renee

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Baby Bedtime by Mem Fox and Emma Quay

Baby BedtimeBestselling and beloved picture book author Mem Fox crafts another brilliant masterpiece that will lull your little ones to sleep.

It’s bedtime.  Momma elephant is carrying her little baby off to bed.  On the way, she says to her baby all of the little ways she enjoys her baby.

From nibbling the nose and gobbling toes, to rocking and stroking baby’s silky hair, Momma elephant goes through the process of putting baby to sleep.

The beauty and grace of this book brought tears to my eyes.  It took me back to when my babies were little and I did these acts of love with them.

Illustrations from the talented Emma Quay make the peaceful lyrics even more relaxing.  I can picture parents reading this to their children and going through the motions as the words are read.  This is the perfect bedtime story to enjoy with your bundles of joy.

– Amanda

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Shattered Secrets by Karen Harper

Shattered SecretsTess Lockwood was kidnapped when she was 4 years old. She was found wondering around 8 months later having been beaten and drugged. She does not remember what happened during that time or who the kidnapper was and the case has never been solved.

Now Tess has returned to her hometown 20 years after the kidnapping to sell her family home. While she’s been gone, there had been another kidnapping that also has not been solved.

Shortly after returning to Cold Creek, Ohio another little girl is taken and the local police are no closer to solving any of the crimes than they were 20 years ago.

Gabe McCord, who was a teenager when Tess was kidnapped, was supposed to be watching her when it happened. He is now the sheriff of Cold Creek and he is desperate to help Tess remember her past so that he can finally bring peace to Tess and bring home the other missing girls.

The first book in a trilogy set in Cold Creek, this is a whodunit roller coaster ride in a creepy town that keeps you in suspense to the very end.

– Tina

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The Last Witness by Glenn Meade

The Last WitnessCarla Lane is happily married to her famous musician husband and works as his manager. They have just found out that she is pregnant and are ecstatic about it. Later that night, she is waiting for him after a concert and as he approaches their car a bomb explodes. Carla is badly injured, but worse, her husband is dead. Devastated and in shock, the tragedy has triggered strange memories that begin coming back to her. She discovers that everything she has known about her past has been a lie and that her husband has been keeping his own secrets.

When she starts therapy, the therapist explains some things that happened to her as a child and she finds out that her mind has been shielding her from these devastating events all of her life. She remembers her parents and that she had a little brother. They were kept in a war camp where they and the other prisoners, sick and starving, were brutalized by the guards for months. She remembers the last time she saw her parents and her brother, but doesn’t know for sure what happened to them. Are they still alive? She is desperate to find out and will stop at nothing to find the people who murdered her family and her husband.

This was a really great book that held my attention. Although parts were very disturbing, it was told very well. I could not put it down.


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Hug Machine by Scott Campbell

Hug MachineI like hugs and I’ve been told by a number of people that I’m a great hugger.  When I saw this book, I figured it was right up my alley.

The book opens with the approach of the Hug Machine.  He’s a little boy that is self-proclaimed the best at hugging.

We follow him as he goes through hugging people and the emotions that it causes.  From calming people to driving them crazy, the Hug Machine hugs everything.  Big things, small things, soft things, hard things, living things, and inanimate objects, nothing gets left unhugged.

When a porcupine questions him for a hug, the Hug Machine suits up and hugs it.  A whale also wants to be hugged.  He grabs a ladder and hugs it from head to tail.

What does a hug machine eat to keep up his hugging energy, you ask?  Pizza, of course!  Upon refueling, the Hug Machine is back on the street hugging away.

At the end of an exhausting day of hugging, when he feels he can hug no more, his mother wants a hug.  Will there be juice left in the Hug Machine?  Check it out to find out.

What a great book!  As a hugger myself, I could really relate to the character in the book (with the exception of inanimate objects and strangers).  There is nothing that a big hug can’t fix!

– Amanda

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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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The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm

The Fourteenth GoldfishFrom the creator of The Babymouse Series comes a fun new perspective on finding the fountain of youth and possibilities.

In preschool, Ellie’s teacher gave all the children goldfish to teach them about the cycle of life.  Ellie thought her fish was special until one day the fish died and her mother finally tells her that she kept replacing the fish every time one died.

Her parents are divorced and Ellie lives with her mother, a high school drama teacher.  Ellie’s father travels for his career as an actor and her grandfather, Melvin, lives close by.

The babysitter informs Ellie that her mother is going to be late one night because she had to pick up Ellie’s grandfather from jail.

Her grandfather is a scientist and working with jellyfish, found a compound, using a new specimen of jellyfish.  He tested the compound on adult mice and found that it caused them to revert to their adolescent stage of life.  He injected it into himself, causing him to become a teenager again.  He tried to go back into the lab to retrieve the jellyfish but security had him arrested.

Ellie’s mom requires him to go back to school.  Under the alias of Melvin, Ellie’s “cousin”, he joins Ellie in middle school.

Throughout the book, Melvin tries to break into his lab.  Eventually, he succeeds, but Ellie gets upset with him and tries to teach him a lesson about the cycle of life.

I thoroughly enjoyed every page of this book.  The characters were well developed and I loved them all.  The story had multiple wonderful messages, from new beginnings to endless possibilities.  I highly recommend it.

– Amanda

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Mean Streak by Sandra Brown

Mean StreakWhen Dr. Emory Charbonneau, renowned pediatrician and marathon runner, disappears into thin air while training for a marathon in North Carolina, the local police fear the worst. Although her husband, Jeff, has not heard from her in 2 days, he writes it off as her trying to punish him for an argument they had before she left and spends the weekend with his lover.

He finally decides that maybe he should be worried and packs up to go to the town where she was last seen. Upon arrival, he waits around impatiently for the police to do something to find her. When it’s discovered that he is having an affair, the police are determined to pin the blame on him even though they have not found Emory yet and still don’t know what has happened to her.

After missing for four days, and just as the police are about to bring Jeff in for questioning again, Emory shows up. Although she has a head wound and claims to not remember much of what happened, Jeff and the police suspect  there is more to her story. She claims to have been hit on the head while running on the trail and remembers nothing until she wakes up in a cabin with a stranger, who never tells her his name, but who takes care of her for days before letting her go.

What is Emory hiding and why is she keeping secrets for a stranger she barely knows?

Sandra Brown is the queen of romantic suspense and she always comes through with the usual twists and turns when you least expect them.

– Tina

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No Safe House by Linwood Barclay

No Safe HouseTerry Archer and his wife Cynthia are currently living apart due to tension and fights between her and their teenage daughter Grace. Cynthia was traumatized by something that happened to her as a teen and now is an overprotective parent with Grace fighting her every step of the way.

While Cynthia is taking a ‘break’, Terry receives a call from Grace who is supposed to be at the movies with a friend. He learns that Grace lied and what she was really out doing that night has put them all in so much danger that Terry fears for their lives. Terry must deal with the consequences of her actions and make decisions that he is unprepared to make. How far would you go to protect your children?

By the end of this book, I was left wondering about Cynthia’s backstory and if these were reoccurring characters from a previous novel. Throughout the book the couple alludes to something that happened to Cynthia’s parents and brother when she was young, but never reveals what that was. So I researched some of Barclay’s previous books and found these characters were from No Time for Goodbye which appears to have been published in 2008. Although this is a standalone and you don’t have to read the previous novel you may want to, as not knowing the backstory was kind of frustrating.

All in all this was a lengthy, but pretty good, suspense thriller. This author will continue to be on my must read list.

– Tina

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Don’t Look Back by Gregg Hurwitz

Don't Look BackEve Hardaway is a single divorced mother of a young son who suffers from celiac disease. Eve’s life revolves around taking care of her son and keeping him safe. So when Eve decides to take a hiking and rafting tour in Mexico it’s a huge decision for her. Unfortunately, what should be the trip of a lifetime ends up turning into a nightmare beyond her wildest dreams.

When Eve and the rest of the tour group are settled deep in the jungle, Eve wanders off the trail and discovers a small house in the woods. While hiding she sees a man throwing his machete at a human shaped target. The man gives Eve the creeps so she quietly goes back to her group. On her way back, she discovers a camera with the name Teresa Hamilton on it. When she looks at the pictures on the camera she sees some very disturbing pictures that involve the man in the woods. She also finds a prescription pill bottle with Teresa’s name on it she asks the tour guide about her. He says that Teresa left abruptly and went home, but Eve can tell he is lying.

When the man from the woods discovers that someone had been snooping outside his house he goes after the group to make sure none of them can talk about what they’ve seen. What happens after that is days of being on the run, people being murdered and, for Eve, not knowing if she will make it home to ever see her son again.

This is a terrifying fast-paced thriller that will keep you in suspense until the very last page. I could not put it down.

– Tina

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