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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

June: A Novel by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Bittersweet comes a novel of suspense and passion about a terrible mistake made sixty years ago that threatens to change a modern family forever. 

Twenty-five-year-old Cassie Danvers is holed up in her family’s crumbling mansion in rural St. Jude, Ohio, mourning the loss of the woman who raised her—her grandmother, June. But a knock on the door forces her out of isolation. Cassie has been named the sole heir to legendary matinee idol Jack Montgomery’s vast fortune. How did Jack Montgomery know her name? Could he have crossed paths with her grandmother all those years ago? What other shocking secrets could June’s once-stately mansion hold?

Soon Jack’s famous daughters come knocking, determined to wrestle Cassie away from the inheritance they feel is their due. Together, they all come to discover the true reasons for June’s silence about that long-ago summer, when Hollywood came to town, and June and Jack’s lives were forever altered by murder, blackmail, and betrayal. As this page-turner shifts deftly between the past and present, Cassie and her guests will be forced to reexamine their legacies, their definition of family, and what it truly means to love someone, steadfastly, across the ages.

my thoughts:

Talk about the perfect book to settle down with on a rainy weekend.  I grabbed a cuppa, something sweet, and June.  As the thunder howled and the raindrops poured, I found myself surrounded by the perfect atmosphere for this story that has a bit of a Gothic feel to it.

Set in St. Jude, Ohio, this book takes place in 1955 and 2015. The past introduces us to best friends, June and Lindie, and tells the story of what happened when Hollywood paid their small town a visit.  In 2015, we have Cassie, June's granddaughter, who is now living in the crumbling, old mansion she inherited after learning her grandmother had been battling cancer.  Grief-stricken, she finds herself trying to figure out what to do with her new house and dreaming about her grandmother.  And then, a knock at the door presents itself as the answer to her dreams (or her house's dreams).  Turns out she's the granddaughter of a famous actor (Jack Montgomery) and has just inherited millions of dollars. Say what? Yep, looks like her grandmother and Jack may have had quite a history together all those years ago when he visited St. Jude.  Hmm....except her good fortune comes with one big problem - Jack's daughter Tate is contesting his will.  She wants DNA proof that Cassie is related to her dad.  And that is where the DRAMA begins.  Mysteries unravel, the past is uncovered, and secrets are revealed. Talk about one fascinating book!  I just loved getting to know June and Lindie ( my favorite character ), along with Cassie.  I loved going back and forth between the past and present - especially, the past.  Oh, and the house - lets just say that these walls can talk.

June is a terrific historical fiction novel filled with mystery, intrigue, and romance.  There are plenty of twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat. Its truly an unputdownable read. And I would happily recommend it to fans of women's fiction and anyone looking for a great new read - you will LOVE this book!

Here's the link to the TLC Book Tour schedule for: June
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Nick and Tesla's Solar-Powered Showdown by "Science Bob" Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith

(Thank you to Quirk Books for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

Nick and Tesla’s Solar-Powered Showdown: A Mystery with Sun-Powered Gadgets You Can Build Yourself (Quirk Books; May 10, 2016; Ages 8–12; $12.95) tackles the all-too-timely topic of clean energy, as the twin sleuths set out to rescue their scientist parents, who were kidnapped while working on a top-secret solar power research project.
To outwit the kidnapper who wants to turn solar power into a weapon, Nick and Tesla need more than just the help of their eccentric Uncle Newt. They have to create their own gadgets by harnessing the most potent power of all—brain power. Young makers can become part of the story by creating their very own versions of Nick and Tesla’s inventions. Full building instructions for these solar-powered projects are peppered between chapters:
·      Ping-Pong Ball Signal Cannon that Uncle Newt uses to signal to Nick and Tesla while sneaking around a suspicious office building
·      Solar Spy Birdhouse that Nick and Tesla build to gather intel on their parents from the government agents who claim to be protecting them
·      Solar-Powered Long-Range Rover, which Nick and Tesla send out with an SOS when the spies hold them hostage
·      Guaranteed-Not-to-Explode Frankfurter Heater-Upper because, in the words of Uncle Newt, “You can’t bust an international spy ring on an empty stomach!”
A spirited hands-on adventure, Nick and Tesla’s Solar-Powered Showdown will mesmerize readers by bridging science and literature.

my thoughts:

Talk about perfect timing.  Just as I was about to write this blog post, I found out that "Science Bob" was going to be on Live with Kelly - how cool is that?!  I grabbed a cuppa and sat down to watch what he had to share with the audience.  He talked about the Science Fairs that President Obama hosts at the White House.  Apparently, one hundred kids are invited to showcase their latest experiments and inventions.  Suffice it to say, these kids are SMART.  Think underwater moving rovers and keeping medicine chilled without electricity.  Pretty awesome, eh?  "Science Bob" performed experiments with Kelly and her co-host Daniel Dae Kim (Jin from Lost).  It was a pretty fun episode to watch.  And at the end, she reminded everyone to go out and pick up a copy of "Science Bob's" latest collaboration with Steve Hockensmith -  Nick and Tesla's Solar-Powered Showdown.  As a huge fan of the series, I was excited when she mentioned the book.  Its the sixth in the series and my new favorite. Chock-full of danger, drama, intrigue, and inventions - how could it not be?

In Nick and Tesla's Solar-Powered Showdown, Nick and Tesla have decided that its FINALLY time to find their parents. They've been kept in the dark long enough and now they want answers. Plus, they know that their parents are in danger, so time is of the essence. Their only resource happens to be the two agents sent to keep an eye on them.  Except, these two agents are dead set against telling Nick and Tesla anything.  Hmmm...what to do?  How about invent an eavesdropping machine in the form of a birdhouse? Pretty nifty, eh?  With the help of their Uncle Newt, Silas, and DeMarco the dynamic duo set out with their plan.  The only problem being that they severely underestimated just how DANGEROUS the people involved with their parents' disappearance really are. YIKES!  They all wind up kidnapped and taken to a deserted building out in the middle of nowhere.  The kids get locked in a room and have no way to communicate for help.  Ack!  Of course, this being Nick and Tesla, you just know that a plan is a brewing. Think Solar-Powered Long Range Rover - how awesome is that?! I swear, MacGyver has nothing on Nick and Tesla - the King and Queen of Inventions! And that is all I will say about the actual plot of the story.  Its just too good to give away all the details.

I will tell you that this book kept me on the edge of my seat! I couldn't stop reading Nick and Tesla's Solar-Powered Showdown until I turned the very last page. I just had to know if these kids would escape from these crazy villains and whether or not they would finally be reunited with their mom and dad.  Let me just say, I was not disappointed.  This book was action-packed and I loved it!  The story was fantastic - it was exciting, thrilling, and unputdownable. This book was truly a perfect addition to the series. In fact, this whole series is great for kids (middle school-aged) who love science, mystery, and intrigue - they will love these books!  I can't wait to tell my friends to pick up a copy for their kids.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Girls On Fire: A Novel by Robin Wasserman

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

Three girls went into the woods; two came out.

It sounds like a joke, or a riddle. But it was only, would ever after be, the rest of our life.

Shortly after Halloween, 1991, the local high-school basketball star is found in the woods near Battle Creek, Pennsylvania, with a bullet in his head and a gun in his hand—a discovery that sends tremors through this conservative community, already unnerved by growing rumors of satanic worship in the region.

In the wake of this incident, bright but lonely Hannah Dexter is befriended by Lacey Champlain, a dark-eyed, Cobain-worshipping bad influence. Lacey forges a fast, intimate bond with the impressionable Dex, making her over in her own image—and unleashing a fierce defiance with unexpected and harrowing consequences. By turns a shocking story of love and violence and an addictive portrait of the intoxication of female friendship, Girls on Fire is an incendiary and unforgettable snapshot of girlhood: girls lost and found, girls weak and strong, girls who burn bright and brighter—and girls who flicker away.

my thoughts:

Okay, so this book was just not for me - at all.  I started reading it and then I put it down.  And then I started reading it again and had to put it down - again.  So, I decided to skip ahead to the end, which left me wondering why I agreed to read this book in the first place.  Girls On Fire is about friendship, high school, teen angst, sex, and so much more.  Except, it didn't feel that way.  From what I read, it was about three teenagers who seemed to either hate each other too much or love each other too much.  They were the epitome of mean girls, social outcasts, and loners - stereotypical to a tee.  They did awful things to one another and still they couldn't help but seek each other out.  Yes, they are lost (and I mean beyond lost) emotionally and mentally to the point where they commit murder and keep dark secrets.  However, it all felt so predictable to me.  From the beginning you know what really happened to that boy they found in the woods and who was responsible.  In fact, as soon as Hannah (aka Dex) meets Lacey, you just know how those two are going to affect each others' lives.  I felt like I was reading a Lifetime/MTV movie or something.  This book was just not what I had hoped it would be.  Of course, I seem to be in the minority, because everyone else is raving about it. So, definitely check out what other book bloggers have to say about Girls On Fire.  Here's the link to the TLC Book Tour schedule for: Girls On Fire
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Nick and Tesla's Special Effects Spectacular by"Science Bob" Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith

(Thank you to Quirk Books for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

Bright siblings—and amateur inventors—Nick and Tesla Holt are back for another thrill-a-minute adventure. This time a Hollywood movie is being filmed in town, but the real drama happens when the cameras are turned off.  

Mystery awaits behind the scenes, and the whole production may shut down unless the DIY detectives can crack the case, with the help of their friends Silas and DeMarco and a fresh assortment of homemade gadgets. Featuring instructions for all-new movie magic projects that kids can build themselves, this whiz-bang adventure is sure to delight fans of the series. Science and electronics have never been so much fun!

my thoughts:

What an absolute treat! I loved the fifth book in the Nick and Tesla series - it was such a fun and enjoyable read. This time round, the dynamic duo are helping their friends, Silas and DeMarco, make a movie about their favorite superhero.  Its their way of distracting themselves from the horrible truth that their parents are involved with something DANGEROUS.  So, they invent movie-type gadgets to help with filming - think robo-arm and Steadicam rig.  Of course, the fun really starts when DeMarco's Aunt Zoe comes to pick them all up and take them to a real movie set that she's a producer on.  They are going to be watching a superhero movie being filmed - how fun is that?  The gang gets a behind-the-scenes tour of the film set and are really enjoying themselves when all of a sudden...they find themselves caught up in solving a new mystery.  Apparently, there's been quite a bit of drama on set lately - scenes are getting ruined, footage is being leaked online, and pranks are being pulled left and right.  And now it looks like Aunt Zoe may lose her job. Ack!  Luckily for her, DeMarco and his gang are ready to sleuth it up and find out who's responsible for sabotaging the film.  With help from Nick and Tesla's creative inventions, this smart and determined foursome are ready to save the day - or at least, Aunt Zoe's job. 

Nick and Tesla's Special Effects Spectacular is a terrific addition to this awesome series.  The story is terrific and I loved catching up with Nick and Tesla. I thought the mystery was fun to solve, especially as it was on a film set. And the cool inventions the kids made were just perfect for their latest adventure.  I swear this series just keeps getting better and better with each new book. I can't wait for the next one!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Remember My Beauties by Lynne Hugo

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

Imagine a hawk’s view of the magnificent bluegrass pastures of Kentucky horse country. Circle around the remnants of a breeding farm, four beautiful horses grazing just beyond the paddock. Inside the ramshackle house, a family is falling apart.

Hack, the patriarch breeder and trainer, is aged and blind, and his wife, Louetta, is confined by rheumatoid arthritis. Their daughter, Jewel, struggles to care for them and the horses while dealing with her own home and job—not to mention her lackluster second husband, Eddie, and Carley, her drug-addicted daughter. Many days, Jewel is only sure she loves the horses. But she holds it all together. Until her brother, Cal, shows up again. Jewel already has reason to hate Cal, and when he meets up with Carley, he throws the family into crisis—and gives Jewel reason to pick up a gun.

Every family has heartbreaks, failures, a black sheep or two. And some families end in tatters. But some stumble on the secret of survival: if the leader breaks down, others step up and step in. In this lyrical novel, when the inept, the addict, and the ex-con join to weave the family story back together, either the barn will burn to the ground or something bigger than any of them will emerge, shining with hope. Remember My Beauties grows large and wide as it reveals what may save us.

my thoughts:

I'm going to be honest and admit that this book took me awhile to get lost in, but once it happened - I was hooked!

Remember My Beauties is story about family and all the drama that comes with it.  There is the dutiful daughter, Jewel, and her wayward brother, Cal.  The two have a relationship fraught with tension, jealousy, and a history that binds and separates them.  Their parents are ailing and the family's farm is struggling.  Jewel's personal life is pretty chaotic, too.  She's got an overly demanding husband who doesn't seem to understand where she's coming from half the time and then there's her drug addict daughter she's trying to take care of.  Everything seems to be out of sorts and Jewel's just trying to get through it all.  Of course, she doesn't seem to acknowledge her part in any of the situations she seems to find herself in.  Its like she thinks everything is happening to her and so she blames everyone and everything around her - she doesn't take responsibility for the choices she made.  As a result, Jewel is angry all the time and that makes her quite an unlikeable character.  Then again, none of the characters in this story are likeable - except for the beauties aka horses.  Yes, this story has horses and they are quite a treat to read about.  Oh, and did I mention that you can actually read their perspective in this story.  Talk about getting a variety of narratives - how creative!  Not only do these horses help us see the connection between humans and animals much more clearly, but we also get to view their surroundings through their eyes. I loved it!

This novel was such a treat to read in the end. I love family drama and this one has it in spades.  And the ending was realistic, which I really appreciated - especially, after everything that happens in the story. Remember My Beauties is a terrific book and I would happily recommend it. 

Here's the link to the TLC Book Tour schedule for: Remember My Beauties
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!