November ended up being even busier than I expected. Of the 18 days school was in session, I subbed 12 of them. Then I also had other commitments on my free days and traveled a couple times as well. I had very little reading time over the last month and it has continually frustrated me. But, I have to remind myself that it is just a season that I am in right now, and I just have to do the best I can with the time I am given. Some days I have time to read or write reviews and other days I don’t. We are traveling over the Christmas break and I am looking forward to catching up on some reading both in the car and on the beach.
As always, if I am choosing to read a book, then you can be sure that I truly think it is worthy of my time. Of course, some books just find their way to my mailbox without my previous knowledge. I am only going to spend time reading and reviewing books that I enjoy. If I’m not feeling it, I’m going to put it aside. I can’t get to all these great books that come my way, but at least I can tell you about them here and I hope to review them just as soon as I can!
By: Lis Wiehl
To Be Published: January 19, 2016
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
I am a huge fan of Wiehl on the Fox News Network and am anxious to read one of her novels.
Television reporter Erica Sparks has just landed her dream job at Global News Network. Beautiful, talented, and ambitious, Erica grew up dirt poor, worked her way through Yale, and is carrying a terrible secret. She moves to Manhattan to join GNN, leaving Jenny, her adored 7-year-old daughter, in the custody of her ex-husband. Erica’s producer at the network, Greg Underwood, is handsome and compelling. Scarred by her divorce, Erica is wary of romance, but there’s no denying the mutual attraction.
On one of her first assignments, Erica witnesses a horrific Staten Island ferry crash. Then she lands a coveted interview with presumptive presidential nominee Kay Barrish. During the interview Barrish collapses. Erica valiantly tries to save her with CPR. The footage rivets the world—GNN’s ratings soar and Erica is now a household name.
But she’s troubled. What a strange coincidence that both events should happen on her watch. It’s almost as if they were engineered. Is that possible?
Erica’s relentless pursuit of the truth puts her life and that of her daughter in danger. Her investigation leads her into the heart of darkness—where the future of our democracy is at stake.
THE FORGOTTEN ROOM
By: Karen White, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig
To Be Published: January 19, 2016
I received this as an eBook last month. I prefer paperbacks and was thrilled to receive this version as well. I love all these authors individually, so a book by the three of them together has to be a hit!
1945: When the critically wounded Captain Cooper Ravenal is brought to a private hospital on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, young Dr. Kate Schuyler is drawn into a complex mystery that connects three generations of women in her family to a single extraordinary room in a Gilded Age mansion.
Who is the woman in Captain Ravenel’s portrait miniature who looks so much like Kate? And why is she wearing the ruby pendant handed down to Kate by her mother? In their pursuit of answers, they find themselves drawn into the turbulent stories of Gilded Age Olive Van Alen, driven from riches to rags, who hired out as a servant in the very house her father designed, and Jazz Age Lucy Young, who came from Brooklyn to Manhattan in pursuit of the father she had never known. But are Kate and Cooper ready for the secrets that will be revealed in the Forgotten Room?
CALLED TO PRAY
By: Linda Evans Shepherd
Published: September 15, 2015
Publisher: Revell Books,
I feel led to pray for someone every single day. When I meet an ambulance with lights and sirens flashing, I pray for the first responders, for the patient, and for their family. When I hear about a tragedy on the news, I pray for all involved. When I see a student struggling at school, I pray for them. I am more a situational-prayer person rather than someone who prays regularly, mindfully, repetitively. I am hoping this book will inspire me to continue praying those prayers I feel led to pray.
When you feel a nudge to pray, what will you do?
Most of us have felt it at one time or another: that unexplained prompting in our hearts to stop and pray for a friend, a loved one, or even a stranger. Sometimes we are even awakened from a deep sleep with an even deeper need to go to God in prayer. Where do those urges come from? Are they truly from God? Or are they merely stray thoughts? And if we respond in prayer, are others’ lives affected at all?
In CALLED TO PRAY, Linda Evans Shepherd shares dozens of inspiring true stories of people who have heeded God’s call to pray and the astonishing results of those impromptu prayers. Through accounts of people being protected from harm and rescued from danger, of needs being met and hearts being encouraged, you’ll see that God is involved in an active and dynamic relationship with us—and that we can be part of his plan to bless others.
If you have ever wondered if prayer has any real effect or doubted that God communicates with us personally, this heart-stirring book will amaze, inspire, and equip you to respond to those holy promptings.
WELCOME TO THE SYMPHONY
By: Carolyn Sloan
Illustrated By: James Williamson
Published: October 27, 2015
Publisher: Workman Publishing Company
I LOVE music. We exposed our children to all kinds of music during pregnancy and all the way through their childhood. I am totally convinced that our children’s love of music and their musical talents are greatly connected to introducing music to them at a very early stage. We loved the Baby Einstein videos and books that were popular years ago and this book reminds me of those. This would make a great gift for a child!
Using one of the most famous works in classical music—Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony—here is the perfect way to introduce a young child to the world of classical music. This charming and interactive picture book with its panel of 19 sound buttons is like a ticket to a concert hall, taking readers on a journey from the exciting first moment when the musicians begin tuning up to the end of the first movement (attention newcomers: don’t clap yet!). At each step of the way, readers learn the basics of classical music and the orchestra: What is a conductor? What is a symphony? Who was Beethoven? The different aspects of music: melody, harmony, tempo, theme. And the families of instruments—strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion.
But the best part is that every critical idea is illustrated in gorgeous sound. The sound panel allows readers to hear the different parts of the symphony and voices of the music—the famous beginning of the Fifth, what a clarinet sounds like, the difference between a violin and a viola, what a melody is, and what harmony is. Kids will want to match their voices to the A note that tunes the orchestra, dance to the rhythmic passages—and, of course, sing along to da-da-da-daah!
I WANT TO EAT YOUR BOOKS
By: Karin Lefranc and Tyler Parker
Published: September 22, 2015
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
I love books that instill a love a reading. I can’t wait to share my thoughts on this book and add it to my stash of books for subbing in the elementary classroom. Zombies are big right now with kids. In fact, our daughter is doing a zombie adventure as part of their Social Studies curriculum. I think kids are going to love this one!
He’s limping strangely down the hall with outstretched arms and a groaning drawl. A zombie! Could it really be? You race to class, but turn to see he’s sitting in the desk right next to you!
But odds are you’ll probably be okay, because this is no ordinary zombie. This zombie doesn’t want to eat your brains—he wants to eat your books! Hide your textbooks and your fairy tales, because the little zombie is hungry and he doesn’t discriminate between genres. Will the school library be devoured, or will the children discover something the zombie likes to do with books even more than eating them?
SAM’S TOP SECRET JOURNAL
Book Three: Memorial Day
By: Dr. Sean Aldeman
Published: October 28, 2015
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
I love the premise of this book and think it is an important one to read and share with others.
Sam is a ninth grade girl trying to enjoy her first year of high school. Sam knows she has Down syndrome but she doesn’t feel different; even though other kids sometimes treat her that way. Sam’s new adventure involves a mini family reunion, exploring the interesting spaces of a retired military base and learning how hard it can be to “do the right thing”. Challenges and new mysteries are all chronicled in Sam’s private journal. In this book, Sam discovers that being yourself isn’t just about what people can see; sometimes what you can’t see is the most important part.
THE WITCHES OF CAMBRIDGE
By: Menna Van Praag
Published: February 9, 2016
Publisher: Ballantine Books
I read her previous book, THE HOUSE AT THE END OF HOPE STREET and loved how she brought literary women to life. You can see my review, HERE.
“Be careful what you wish for. If you re a witch, you might just get it.”
Amandine Bisset has always had the power to feel the emotions of those around her. It s a secret she can share only with her friends all professors, all witches when they gather for the Cambridge University Society of Literature and Witchcraft. Amandine treasures these meetings but lately senses the ties among her colleagues beginning to unravel. If only she had her student Noa s power to hear the innermost thoughts of others, she might know how to patch things up. Unfortunately, Noa regards her gift as a curse. So when a seductive artist claims he can cure her, Noa jumps at the chance, no matter the cost.
Noa s not the only witch in over her head. Mathematics professor Kat has a serious case of unrequited love but refuses to cast spells to win anyone s heart. Her sister, Cosima, is not above using magic to get what she wants, sprinkling pastries in her bakery with equal parts sugar and enchantment. But when Cosima sets her sights on Kat s crush, she conjures up a dangerous love triangle.
As romance and longing swirl through every picturesque side street, the witches of Cambridge find their lives unexpectedly upended and changed in ways sometimes extraordinary, sometimes heartbreaking, but always enchanting.
By: Jeanne Marie Laskas
Published: November 24, 2015
Publisher: Random House
I first heard about this book because the movie is coming out soon. Then I was asked to review it. The coincidence is that our son is doing his English research paper on Long-Term Brain Injuries in Professional Football Players. So, of course, our son is reading this book before I get a chance to read it.
Jeanne Marie Laskas first met the young forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu in 2009, while reporting a story for GQ that would go on to inspire the movie Concussion. Omalu told her about a day in September 2002, when, in a dingy morgue in downtown Pittsburgh, he picked up a scalpel and made a discovery that would rattle America in ways he’d never intended. Omalu was new to America, chasing the dream, a deeply spiritual man escaping the wounds of civil war in Nigeria. The body on the slab in front of him belonged to a fifty-year-old named Mike Webster, aka “Iron Mike,” a Hall of Fame center for the Pittsburgh Steelers, one of the greatest ever to play the game. After retiring in 1990, Webster had suffered a dizzyingly steep decline. Toward the end of his life, he was living out of his van, tasering himself to relieve his chronic pain, and fixing his rotting teeth with Super Glue. How did this happen?, Omalu asked himself. How did a young man like Mike Webster end up like this? The search for answers would change Omalu’s life forever and put him in the crosshairs of one of the most powerful corporations in America: the National Football League. What Omalu discovered in Webster’s brain—proof that Iron Mike’s mental deterioration was no accident but a disease caused by blows to the head that could affect everyone playing the game—was the one truth the NFL wanted to ignore.
PIANOSCAPES FOR THE TRAILS OF NORTH AMERICA
By: Laura Sullivan
I used to play the piano every single day. I took lessons for 13 years and played in numerous recitals, piano contests, and accompanied choirs while growing up. As an adult, I played for our church services and other events. But, the arthritis in my right hand has made it difficult for me to play. I can play the piano but then I’ll pay for it the next week with pain. So, I frequently turn to Pandora for piano music while I am working, making supper or just background music while I read. I was thrilled to have an opportunity to check out Laura Sullivan’s music and I’ll be telling you about it soon. Until then, you can find her music on Pandora and Spotify!
If there is something, or someone, haunting her house, what do they want? And what will they do if Sunshine can’t help them?
As things become more frightening and dangerous, and the giggles she hears turn to sobs and screams, Sunshine has no choice but to accept what she is, face the test before her and save her mother from a fate worse than death.
The first in a frighteningly good new series based on the popular YouTube sensation The Haunting of Sunshine Girl Network, created by Paige McKenzie.
With Christmas and the adoption date looming, Josh finds himself wondering if he can separate himself from his beloved puppies. At odds with Kerri, Josh isn’t willing to lose her, but doesn’t know how to set things right. Can a surprise litter of Christmas puppies really change one man’s life?
Suddenly Willow’s world is tragically changed when her parents both die in a car crash, leaving her alone in a baffling world. The triumph of this book is that it is not a tragedy. This extraordinarily odd, but extraordinarily endearing, girl manages to push through her grief. Her journey to find a fascinatingly diverse and fully believable surrogate family is a joy and a revelation to read.
Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets the compelling and mysterious Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can…completely. When he betrays her, Isabelle races headlong into danger and joins the Resistance, never looking back or giving a thought to the real–and deadly–consequences.
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