Friday, February 24, 2017

Children's Book Review: Mr. Fuzzbuster Knows He's the Favorite By Stacy McAnulty


By: Stacy McAnulty

Illustrated by: Edward Hemingway

Published: February 7, 217

Publisher: Two Lions


I had the pleasure of experiencing this story for the first time along with a class of Kindergartners in the classroom I was subbing in. I read it to them during their snack time and it was pure joy. There was a lot of laughter and it made for a great read-aloud with all the different voices.

Mr. Fuzzbuster is Lily's cat and he was her favorite (and only) pet until four other pets decided to join the family. He felt it was time to let the other pets know that he was still the favorite pet of Lily's. As he waits for Lily to respond to his question, he is shocked to hear her answer and wonders if they can all be part of one big happy family sharing a bit of Lily's heart with each other. 

I know I tease my sisters about being the favorite daughter and my kids often have battled over who is the favorite. If that happens in your house, this story would make a great way to end that argument. The dialogue is funny and shows the love between a child and a pet on every page. I had so much fun reading the voices of the bird, lizard, fish, and dog, as well as Mr. Fuzzbuster. 

The book has full-page, vibrant illustrations with each pet showing their personality. You can tell when the pets are sad, scared, or happy just by looking at the illustrations. Hemingway has illustrated numerous children's books and is extremely talented. The kindergartners I read to today loved the pictures as much as the story.  The pages are a nice heavy weight paper which makes tearing the pages more difficult. This book is very high quality and durable for younger children.

If you are a cat-loving family (like we are) or have lots of sibling rivalry in your house, definitely check out this book for your toddler to lower-elementary-aged child. It would be a cute book to add to your Easter basket as well.

Did you know Mr. Fuzzbuster loves writing notes? He wants to send cards to young readers across the country.  Maybe he will be your favorite.

More information can be found at

STACY MCANULTY is certain she's her mom's favorite. Her younger brother disagrees. She's the author of Beautiful, illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff; Excellent Ed, illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach; and 101 Reasons Why I'm Not Taking a Bath, illustrated by Joy Ang. Originally from upstate New York, she now lives in Kernersville, North Carolina, with her three children, two dogs, and one husband. She doesn't have a favorite. You can find her online at

EDWARD HEMINGWAY is certain he's Stacy McAnulty's favorite illustrator, although the illustrators of Stacy's other books may disagree. Edward himself is the author and illustrator of the children's books Bump in the Night, Bad Apple: A Tale of Friendship, Bad Apple's Perfect Day, and Field Guide to the Grumpasaurus. Originally from Bozeman, Montana, he now lives in Brooklyn where he teaches creative writing at the master's level at SVA in Manhattan. If he has any favorite students, he'll never tell. Learn more about him online at

To purchase a copy of MR. FUZZBUSTERS KNOWS HE'S THE FAVORITE, click the photo below:

I will be linking up this review on Booking Mama's regular Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. This is a place for bloggers to share posts related to children's and YA books. You will find spotlights, reviews, and sometimes even giveaways by clicking HERE, every Saturday.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of this books for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to purchase this book through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

I See Me Friends and Family Sale

The biggest sale i See Me offers is now available. Don't miss this opportunity to stock up for Easter, baptism, and birthday gifts. 

Check out my review of the i See Me book I chose to give for Valentine's Day to my great-niece:

Don't delay as this sale ends TOMORROW!! 

Semi-Annual Friends and Family Sale
February 21st - 23rd
Code: FRIENDS30 at

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Book Review: The Orphan's Tale By Pam Jenoff


By: Pam Jenoff

Published: February 21, 2017

Publisher: MIRA

Fiction/Historical Fiction

I first became a fan of Pam Jenoff when I read one of her short stories in the compilation, GRAND CENTRAL: Original Stories of Post-War Love and Reunion. She is also known for several other books set during war- time. Her research is impeccable and the desire to share the stories of those who suffered and lost or those who saved others during a horrible time in our history makes her one of the much-loved historical fiction authors. With her newest book, ORPHAN TALE, she tells a story of two women, unlikely to ever cross paths that now must rely on each other to survive.

Noa is kicked out of her home at 16 when her Dutch parents find out she is pregnant by a Nazi soldier. The orphanage she lives in takes her baby immediately after birth promising her he’ll be sent to a good family. Lost and alone she works cleaning a train station until fleeing after witnessing something she will never be able to erase from her mind. Astrid is served divorce papers from her German soldier when he is forced to kick her out because she is a Jew. Astrid grew up in the circus but after leaving her family home to get married, she returns to her home overtaken by the Germans and her family gone. She is forced to go to the competing circus to ask for a job and most importantly, to be hidden.  After a cold winter night, Noa and Astrid are forced to work together and eventually their lives depend not only on the circus staying alive during the war, but sharing the secrets they’ve hidden from each other.

In one of my favorite writing styles, Jenoff writes the chapters from Noa’s or Astrid’s voice. This format always helps me read faster because I have to know what happens and understand the other character’s perspective. This war-time setting is mostly the circus train and then the fairgrounds where it sets up camp to perform in various villages between Germany and France. We are also given some flashbacks to life before the war for many of the characters offering a glimpse of who they were and what brought them to the circus life. I had no idea the circus would have still been allowed while the travesties of WWII were taking place. Thankfully, many people were saved because of their role in the circus and others were hidden from the Nazi officers and kept safe. The friendships made while depending on the circus created a family for many of them that had nothing else to hold on to.

Even though the stories of these two women are fictional, Jenoff has based them off of true stories she was told and then let her imagination take us on an emotional trip back in time. Jenoff served as a US Diplomat in Poland and her time working with Holocaust survivors profoundly affected her. This is her chance to share their stories so we don’t forget. Every WWII story I read leaves me feeling sad, yet grateful and inspired by those who were willing to sacrifice food, family, and safety to help others in need. These stories offer readers a reminder that even during the most horrible times, there was always a way to find the good in others. But, unfortunately, many places in this novel will rip your heart out as there was so much suffering and tragedy. Jenoff writes a riveting, heartbreaking, and memorable story that is sure to make many top book lists for 2017.  

Favorite quote:

"We cannot change who we are. 
Sooner or later we will all have to face ourselves."

Pam Jenoff - source
Pam Jenoff was born in Maryland and raised outside Philadelphia. She attended George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and Cambridge University in England. Upon receiving her master’s in history from Cambridge, she accepted an appointment as Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Army. The position provided a unique opportunity to witness and participate in operations at the most senior levels of government, including helping the families of the Pan Am Flight 103 victims secure their memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, observing recovery efforts at the site of the Oklahoma City bombing and attending ceremonies to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of World War II at sites such as Bastogne and Corregidor.

Following her work at the Pentagon, Jenoff moved to the State Department. In 1996 she was assigned to the U.S. Consulate in Krakow, Poland. It was during this period that Pam developed her expertise in Polish-Jewish relations and the Holocaust. Working on matters such as preservation of Auschwitz and the restitution of Jewish property in Poland, Jenoff developed close relations with the surviving Jewish community.

Having left the Foreign Service in 1998 to attend law school at the University of Pennsylvania, Jenoff is now employed as an attorney in Philadelphia.

For more on Pam Jenoff, visit her website, HERE.

To purchase a copy of THE ORPHAN'S TALE, click the photo below:


You may also like these other WWII novels:

Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to purchase this book through the above link, I may receive a small comission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting  

Friday, February 17, 2017

Children's Book Review: Shackles from the Deep By Michael Cottman

Tracing the Path of a Sunken Slave Ship, A Bitter Past, and a Rich Legacy

By: Michael Cottman

Published: January 3, 2017

Publisher: National Geographic


Avid scuba diver and journalist, Michael Cottman is sharing the remarkable discovery of a sunken ship that carried slaves to Europe and North/South America during the late 1600's. The ship was the Henrietta Marie and in early 1700, it sank in a storm off the coast of Key West, Florida. Nothing was known about this ship until 1972 when underwater treasure hunter Moe Molinar finds the wreckage while looking for some treasures from another ship. Hurricanes often stir up the sand around sunken treasures and this time, he came across something new....shackles, heavy manacles designed to handcuff slaves while traveling across the ocean to an unknown world. Ten years later, marine archaeologist, David Moore had heard of the shipwreck and began studying the slave trade. He made it a mission to find out more about this ship and the purpose of its journey.

In 1983, during an underwater exploration, he came across the bell. During that time, every ship had a bell with the ship's name on it to use as a watch bell that signaled changes to the crew on board of the ship. This find was a huge break because it helped them reveal the name of the ship, the Henrietta Marie. Cottman and Moore united to retrace the ship's journey around the world. For Cottman, it is quite an emotional journey as an African American man, wondering if there could have been his own ancestors that perished on this journey. His most upsetting find wasn't just finding the shackles made specifically to handcuff the slaves during the long journey across the ocean, but the numerous child-sized shackles. "Who would make child-sized shackles?", Cottman wondered.

While this is a non-fiction account of the fascinating finds related to this ship, Cottman willing shares his personal feelings while conducting this research. This reads as a narrative non-fiction and contains amazing photographs of both underwater images as well as the shackles and bell brought to the surface. He travels to several countries to access every piece of the story related to slavery trade during the 1600-1800's.

While reading this book, I was reminded of the story of Olaudah Equiano, a slave who came across the ocean on a ship much like the Henrietta Marie (maybe even one of the previous journeys) and landed in London. He was eventually freed by his owner after being allowed to trade and buy his freedom. I've often taught this story while subbing and I now have new knowledge to add to my lesson on the slave trade.

Having never heard of this sunken ship, I was fascinated by this amazing find. The level of research Moore and Cottman conducted to understand what happened to the ship, who perished on this ship, and the history of shipping slaves across the world was extensive.

If your child likes reading true historical stories, then this will be right up their alley. At just 120 pages, it isn't overwhelming for younger readers. If the reader becomes interested in this topic, the back of the book includes other books and websites to find more information about slave ships. scuba diving, and marine archaeology. Maybe this book will inspire them to become a researcher some day.

Michael Cottman - source
Michael H. Cottman, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and author, is a former political reporter for the WashingtonPost. Cottman has appeared on National Public Radio's (NPR) "Tell Me More" with Michel Martin and also the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2000 to discuss his (adult) book THE WRECK OF THE HENRIETTA MARIE. Cottman also serves as a special consultant to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for a national, multimedia project, "Voyage to Discovery," an education initiative that focuses on the African-American contribution to the maritime industry spanning 300 years and efforts to teach students of color about careers in marine biology and oceanography. For more info, check out his website, HERE

To purchase a copy of SHACKLES FROM THE DEEP, click the photo below:

I will be linking up this review on Booking Mama's regular Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. This is a place for bloggers to share posts related to children's and YA books. You will find spotlights, reviews, and sometimes even giveaways by clicking HERE, every Saturday.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of this books for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to purchase this book through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Book Review: Since She Went Away By David Bell


By: David Bell

Published: June 21, 2016

Publisher: NAL


Jenna and Celia have been best friends since childhood, but as adults, fitting in time to get together between jobs, kids, and Celia's country club friends have been difficult. Even though they don't see each other as often, they always seamlessly pick up right where they left off. One night Jenna decides they should go crazy and meet up at midnight and hit the town, much like they did in their younger years. Something happens at home and causes Jenna to be late to meet Celia and when she does arrive Celia isn't there. Celia never shows up and a missing person report is filed.

In the meantime, Jenna's son Jared is in his first ever romantic relationship as a high schooler. Then his new girlfriend disappears and Celia's daughter Ursula is turning into a bully at school which makes Jared uncomfortable. The news media and the police keep knocking on Jenna's door and she is just trying to get some normalcy back in her life while wanting to know what happened to Celia. After another woman goes missing in a nearby town everyone begins to wonder if there a serial murderer on the loose.

I really liked the premise of this story and I was certainly intrigued, but unfortunately for me, this story got a little too bogged down in meaningless and repetitive conversations. I felt like every chapter included Jenna leaving and telling Jared to lock the doors while she was gone and then in the next paragraph Jared was leaving and getting himself into a bad situation. After the first few times, it got a bit old because you could imagine what was coming next.

There were a few twists and I was definitely interested in finding out what was going to happen and who was behind the disappearance of the women. But, I eventually put it down for awhile and picked away at it a few chapters at a time until the last ten chapters or so. The chapters are quite short and make it easy to read a few at a time. The characters are likable and realistic for the most part. I had some issues with where the author took Jared in the book, especially in his relationship with his girlfriend. As the mom of a 15-year-old boy, I felt, at times, it was unrealistic.

The ending seemed quick and left me a little unsatisfied. If I had to grade this book, I'd say the first third was an "A", the middle third a "C" and the final third a "B". The author did a great job of grabbing your attention at the beginning but could use less detail and side stories in the middle to keep the reader invested in the characters and the mystery. The author is quite popular and well-liked, but since I haven't read his other books I can't give a good comparison. I think most regular mystery readers would find this one a bit boring.

David Bell - source
David J. Bell's previous novels include SOMEBODY I USED TO KNOW, THE FORGOTTEN GIRL, NEVER COME BACK, THE HIDING PLACE, and CEMETERY GIRL. He is currently an Associate Professor of English at Western Kentucky University and can be reached via his website at

Click the photo below to purchase a copy of SINCE SHE WENT AWAY:

Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to purchase the book through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Children's Book Review: Two Presidential Books from Time for Kids and National Geographic Kids


By: The Editors of Time for Kids

Published: January 10, 2017

Publisher: Time for Kids


This small 9x6 inch book is packed full of information perfect for your middle grade through middle school aged child. Heck, I learned things from this book. It's the perfect size to keep in a purse or vehicle and your child can read about our former Presidents one-at-a-time.

The book begins with the history of how the presidency began. It then explains the three branches of government (I wish I would have had this book to study from in high school) and why we have political parties. Then it devotes one to two pages to each one of our 45 Presidents. For each President, there is a section on their basics: birth date and place of birth, date of death, family, years of presidency, political party and vice-president. It gives a brief biography of their time as President and key dates during their presidency. The information isn't overwhelming and there are photos of the Presidents and other noted items.

This book is up-to-date featuring our 45th President, President Donald Trump. Obviously, it talks mostly about his campaign and his life before becoming the President rather than his time as President like the other ones featured in the book. There is also a section in the book that covers the whole 2016 campaign including bios of two kid reporters at the conventions.

The end of the book gives a glimpse into the White House and a couple pages on the famous First Ladies. For your history and political-loving children, this is a great book to keep on hand. It would also be a great reference for all those school projects on Presidents.

Time for Kids offers 20 years of classroom experience and is a trusted leader in education resources for teachers, students, and parents. For more information, visit

To purchase a copy of PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES, click the photo below:

A Complete Encyclopedia of the U.S. Presidency

By: Ann Bausum

Published: January 10, 2017

Publisher: National Geographic


What I noticed right away when I first flipped through the pages of this book is the attention to detail. This book features full pages of the official portraits of each President, including President Donald Trump. This book is large, a little bigger than computer paper and thick. It's more of a coffee table book. The very first page of the book includes a photo of the oval office and President Donald Trump's victory speech. After an overview of the history of the presidency, it takes you right into the story of each President.

My favorite thing on each President's page was their official signature. I think my favorites were Theodore Roosevelt and Jimmy Carter....neat, readable, and unique. Sprinkled throughout the pages of the Presidents there is also notable historical information including the history of the white house, children who grew up in the white house, the Supreme Court, the First Ladies, Presidents who died in office, and much more.

I found the President Facts and Comparison section to be fascinating. There is a table that charts each President and the level of education, military service, political service, and careers before becoming President. Seven out of our 45 Presidents did not have a college education. Fifteen of them did not serve in our military. Only eight of them were former educators. These are all facts I wasn't aware of and found to be quite interesting.

This book covers it all and between the photos and pages of information on each President, your child will be filled with knowledge to cover any future report they may have to give on any President. This is comprehensive and detailed. But, due to its size, you'll want to just look at it in your home. Middle elementary through middle school students could definitely benefit from this book, but older students and parents will enjoy it too.

Ann Bausum - source
Ann Bausum writes about history for readers of all ages from her home in southern Wisconsin. Her works often focus on under-told stories from the past, and she frequently explores issues of social justice. For more on Bausum, visit her website, HERE

To purchase a copy of OUR COUNTRY'S PRESIDENTS, click the photo below:

Both of these books are so wonderful and unique in their own way. I highly recommend them for your own reference library or to purchase as a gift for your child's teacher. They are both a great resource and contain information that all our children should learn.

I will be linking up this review on Booking Mama's regular Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. This is a place for bloggers to share posts related to children's and YA books. You will find spotlights, reviews, and sometimes even giveaways by clicking HERE, every Saturday.

Thanks to the publishers for providing copies of these books for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to purchase these books through the above links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

New Books in January 2017

Every month I share a post about all the new books that came my way during the past month. You can be sure to see these posts at the beginning of every month.

I read four books in January including two fiction, a non-fiction, and a YA book. I am currently reading four books jumping around based on my mood. They include three non-fictions and a mystery. I need to finish the mystery because I have a couple historical fiction books I'm dying to read, but won't allow myself to start a new one without finishing one of these.

If you would like to purchase any of the books below, clicking the photo of the book will take you directly to Amazon. If you choose to purchase the book I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting me.

By: Jojo Moyes
Published: December 6, 2016 (reissue)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Format: Paperback

One of my husband's clients passed this along to me thinking I would like to read it. I read ME BEFORE YOU and have been wanting to read the sequel.

How do you move on after losing the person you loved? How do you build a life worth living?

Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.

Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding—the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future...

For Lou Clark, life after Will Traynor means learning to fall in love again, with all the risks that brings. But here Jojo Moyes gives us two families, as real as our own, whose joys and sorrows will touch you deeply, and where both changes and surprises await.

What to Say and Do When Life is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love
By: Kelsey Crowe, Ph.D. and Emily McDowell
Illustrated by: Emily McDowell
Published: January 17, 2017
Publisher: HarperOne
Format: Hardcover

I purchased this book because I love Emily McDowell's line of cards and other products. A close friend of mine was just diagnosed with breast cancer and I've been at a loss for what to say to her that lets her know I'm here, I love her, and I'm scared for her. It seems like there are lots of situations in life where "I'm sorry." or "I'm praying for you." just isn't enough. I'm hoping this book will offer me more options with a hint of humor.

The creator of the viral hit "Empathy Cards" teams up with a compassion expert to produce a visually stunning and groundbreaking illustrated guide to help you increase your emotional intelligence and learn how to offer comfort and support when someone you know is in pain.

When someone you know is hurting, you want to let her know that you care. But many people don’t know what words to use—or are afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. This thoughtful, instructive guide, from empathy expert Dr. Kelsey Crowe and greeting card maverick Emily McDowell, blends well-researched, actionable advice with the no-nonsense humor and the signature illustration style of McDowell's immensely popular Empathy Cards, to help you feel confident in connecting with anyone experiencing grief, loss, illness, or any other difficult situation.

Written in a how-to, relatable, we’ve-all-been-that-deer-in-the-headlights kind of way, There Is No Good Card for This isn’t a spiritual treatise on how to make you a better person or a scientific argument about why compassion matters. It is a helpful illustrated guide to effective compassion that takes you, step by step by step, past the paralysis of thinking about someone in a difficult time to actually doing something (or nothing) with good judgment instead of fear.

There Is No Good Card for This features workbook exercises, sample dialogs, and real-life examples from Dr. Crowe’s research, including her popular "Empathy Bootcamps" that give people tools for building relationships when it really counts. Whether it’s a coworker whose mother has died, a neighbor whose husband has been in a car accident, or a friend who is seriously ill, There Is No Good Card for This teaches you how to be the best friend you can be to someone in need.

How Smart Women Pivot and Relaunch Their Careers
By: Wendy Sachs
Published: February 7, 2017
Publisher: AMACOM
Format: Hardcover

This came to me for a review. I'm intrigued because I'm not doing what I went to college for. But, I am also not necessarily in a career. I'm doing what works for me right now and I am okay with that.

We all need to think more like entrepreneurs. Seeking and seizing opportunities, boldly taking risks, quickly changing course—achieving success today requires the kind of action-first, fake-it-‘til-you-make-it ethos celebrated in the tech industry.

This formula is not typically a female one. Women tend to be cautious. We overthink our next moves, become paralyzed by fear, and simply don’t act. We might be safer . . . but we’re also stuck.

But, what if women embraced the startup model? What if we had the confidence to take chances, even if we knew we may fail fabulously? What if instead of agonizing over which step to take, we leapt forward quickly? Fearless and Free empowers women, showing us how we can all use lessons from Silicon Valley to pivot in our careers—and unlock a world of possibilities.

Author Wendy Sachs talked to a wide range of women who faced down fears, roadblocks, and failures…to reinvent themselves. Spanning industries and ages—from media maven Jill Abramson to Aminatou Sow of the Tech LadyMafia—the book weaves their insights and experiences together with current research and actionable advice. You’ll learn how to:

● Capitalize on your skills and expand them
● Grow comfortable with being uncomfortable
● Sell your story
● Engineer serendipity
● Nurture your network
● Shake off setbacks
● Brand yourself—without bragging
● Build momentum
● Compete with digital natives
● And more

Being disciplined is no match for being disruptive. Whether you want out of a shrinking industry or into a business of your own creation, Fearless and Free helps you dream big—and act now.

How Did They Die?
By: Tod Benoit
Published: September 29, 2015
Publisher: Black Dog and Leventhal
Format: eBook

I know this may sound a little morbid, but I am finding it very interesting. I first saw this book in a Cracker Barrel Store around Halloween and thought it sounded interesting. I thought of it again and reserved it through our online lending library. I like that I can read about a person while waiting in line or waiting to pick up our daughter since I have this book on my phone. The brief biography reminds me a bit about who the person was and then briefly shares how they died and where they are buried with detailed directions if you want to visit their grave. I'm shocked how many so far have died due to drug/alcohol abuse. I've already renewed this once as I didn't realize how long of a book it is.

Fitting Ends and Final Resting Places of the Famous, Infamous, and Noteworthy

Updated with dozens of entries of the newly dead and now in paperback, an irresistible and browsable guide to the lives, deaths, and final resting places of the world's most influential figures.

This unparalleled compilation of profiles of the deceased—from Abbott and Costello to Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, from Arthur Ashe to Paul Newman, offers all the pertinent details on how they lived and died. It is also a detailed atlas of where they are buried.
Each entry in this fascinating book includes an entertaining capsule biography full of little-known facts, a detailed description of each subject's death, and very specific directions to the location and site of the grave. Fifty photos and informative sidebars (on such topics as how to find anyone's grave) round out this indispensable field guide to the "permanent addresses" of the world's most significant late citizens.
New additions to the roster of final resting places include: • Tim Russert • Heath Ledger • Norman Mailer • Anna Nicole Smith • George Carlin • Rosa Parks • Hunter S. Thompson • Paul Newman • Katharine Hepburn … and many more

By: Colson Whitehead
Published: August 2, 2016
Publisher: Doubleday
Format: eBook

I had a free eBook credit and chose this book based on a recommendation from my friend, Tammy. It made many of the Best of 2016 lists around the blog-o-sphere, so I'm sure it will be a good one.

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all the slaves but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood - where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned and, though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.

In Whitehead's ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor - engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar's first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven - but the city's placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. Even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.

As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman's ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.

By: Chris Cleve
Published: May 3, 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: eBook

I received this one for free through the publisher as a thank you. It's been raved about everywhere.

From the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Little Bee, a spellbinding novel about three unforgettable individuals thrown together by war, love, and their search for belonging in the ever-changing landscape of WWII London.

It’s 1939 and Mary, a young socialite, is determined to shock her blueblood political family by volunteering for the war effort. She is assigned as a teacher to children who were evacuated from London and have been rejected by the countryside because they are infirm, mentally disabled, or—like Mary’s favorite student, Zachary—have colored skin.

Tom, an education administrator, is distraught when his best friend, Alastair, enlists. Alastair, an art restorer, has always seemed far removed from the violent life to which he has now condemned himself. But Tom finds distraction in Mary, first as her employer and then as their relationship quickly develops in the emotionally charged times. When Mary meets Alastair, the three are drawn into a tragic love triangle and—while war escalates and bombs begin falling around them—further into a new world unlike any they’ve ever known.

A sweeping epic with the kind of unforgettable characters, cultural insights, and indelible scenes that made Little Bee so incredible, Chris Cleave’s latest novel explores the disenfranchised, the bereaved, the elite, the embattled. Everyone Brave Is Forgiven is a heartbreakingly beautiful story of love, loss, and incredible courage.

By: Yiyun Li
Published: February 21, 2017
Publisher: Random House
Format: eBook

I received this one for review. I was interested because the author attend the Iowa Writer's Workshop and most everyone that comes through that workshop is quite talented. I do think the title is a little odd though.

In her first memoir, award-winning novelist Yiyun Li offers a journey of recovery through literature: a letter from a writer to like-minded readers. A meditation on the fact that literature itself lives and gives life. Marilynne Robinson, author of Gilead.
What a long way it is from one life to another, yet why write if not for that distance? 
Startlingly original and shining with quiet wisdom, this is a luminous account of a life lived with books. Written over two years while the author battled suicidal depression, Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life is a painful and yet richly affirming examination of what makes life worth living. 

Yiyun Li grew up in China and has spent her adult life as an immigrant in a country not her own. She has been a scientist, an author, a mother, a daughter and through it all she has been sustained by a profound connection with the writers and books she loves. From William Trevor and Katherine Mansfield to Soren Kierkegaard and Philip Larkin, Dear Friend is a journey through the deepest themes that bind these writers together. 

Interweaving personal experiences with a wide-ranging homage to her most cherished literary influences, Yiyun Li confronts the two most essential questions of her identity: Why write? And why live? 

Guide to Taking Stunning Beautiful Pictures - DSLR Photography and Smart Phones
By: Jonathan Cooper
Published: December 3, 2016
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Format: eBook

This was a free Kindle deal and since I am always wanting to learn more about my camera, I decided to get it. I've got nothing to lose since it was free.

Do you Love taking pictures? Do you wish you could become a professional photographer? Would you like to learn what it takes to become a professional photographer ?

When you download Photography: guide to taking stunning beautiful pictures DSLR photography and smart phones, Your skills will improve steadily each day! You will discover everything you need to know about Photography.

Would you like to know more about:

  • Composition?

  • Shutter speed

  • Natural light

  • Troubleshooting blurry, dark, and bad pictures

  • Instagram photography

This book breaks Photography down into easy-to-understand modules. It starts from the very beginning so you can get great results - even as a beginner!

Rediscover the Joy of the Simple Things Through the Danish Concept of Hygge
By: Pia Edberg
Published: April 7, 2016
Publisher: CreateSpace Indpendent Publishing Platform
Format: eBook

This was a Kindle deal that interested me because of this Danish way of living called hygge.

In today’s world, we’re constantly rushing from one thing to the next and are struggling with information overload. We’re more disconnected from ourselves and our loved ones than ever before. Rediscover the joy of the simple things through the Danish concept of Hygge in The Cozy Life. This book will inspire you to slow down and enjoy life’s cozy moments! 

Learn about the Danish cultural phenomenon of Hygge, and the secret to why 
Denmark is consistently rated the happiest country in the world 
Embrace the little things and take simplicity and minimalism up a notch 
Add Hygge into every aspect of your life with practical examples and tips 
Say goodbye to the Winter Blues and live a healthier, centred life 

This charming little book, filled with hand drawn illustrations, beautifully addresses that yearning we all have for a more authentic life, created by ourselves instead of external forces. 

What’s stopping you from living a more meaningful and connected life?

By: Erica Bauermeister
Published: January 5, 2010
Publisher: Berkley
Format: eBook

Another Kindle deal that I snagged because I loved Bauermeister's book JOY FOR BEGINNERS.

The School of Essential Ingredients follows the lives of eight students who gather in Lillian’s Restaurant every Monday night for cooking class. It soon becomes clear, however, that each one seeks a recipe for something beyond the kitchen. 

Students include Claire, a young mother struggling with the demands of her family; Antonia, an Italian kitchen designer learning to adapt to life in America; and Tom, a widower mourning the loss of his wife to breast cancer. Chef Lillian, a woman whose connection with food is both soulful and exacting, helps them to create dishes whose flavor and techniques expand beyond the restaurant and into the secret corners of her students’ lives. 

One by one the students are transformed by the aromas, flavors, and textures of Lillian’s food, including a white-on-white cake that prompts wistful reflections on the sweet fragility of love and a peppery heirloom tomato sauce that seems to spark one romance but end another. Brought together by the power of food and companionship, the lives of the characters mingle and intertwine, united by the revealing nature of what can be created in the kitchen.

Published: January 10, 2017
Publisher: Time for Kids
Format: Hardcover

This book is small in size, but large in information and has been a hit so far in the classrooms I've been teaching in. Kids seem surprised that President Trump is already in the book.

TIME For Kids presents a complete overview of our nation's chief executives from George Washington to the newly elected 45th president!Did you know that James Monroe was the first president to appear without a wig in public? Or that George W. Bush appointed the first African-American secretary of state? Presidents of the United States invites the reader inside the White House to discover fascinating facts about the U.S. commanders-in-chief-their origins, accomplishments, and place in history-as told through famous quotes, important historical dates, and a timeline of events. Special sections cover the election process, the branches of government, and the role of presidents in the expansion of our nation from before the 13 colonies through westward expansion. With more than 200 photographs, illustrations, portrait reproductions, and maps. 

A Complete Encyclopedia of the U.S. Presidency
By: Ann Bausum
Published: January 10, 2017
Publisher: National Geographic
Format: Hardcover

The kids have been loving this book too. It is much larger and has full-page photos of each President. This is also up-to-date including President Trump.

National Geographic presents the 43 individuals who have led the U.S., plus America's newest commander-in-chief, in this up-to-date, authoritative, and lavishly illustrated family, school, and library reference. It features comprehensive profiles of the 43 former presidents along with timelines and descriptions of crucial events during their terms. Information about the 2016 president-elect is also included. 

Thematic spreads cover a variety of topics from the history of voting rights to writing a presidential letter. Full-page portraits, famous quotes, and fascinating facts help kids get to know each leader. This new volume is a fascinating read and excellent reference for students and kids of all ages.

By: Julie Dillemuth
Illustrated by: Laura Wood
Published: March 13, 2017
Publisher: Magination Press
Format: Hardcover

I'm not sure how this book ended up in my mailbox as I wasn't expecting it. But it looks really interesting.

Flora loves drawing maps and uses them to tell us about her life! Mapping My Day introduces spatial relationships and representation: where things and places are in relation to other things. This book intends to show readers how maps can convey information, inspire children to draw their own maps, and introduce basic map concepts and vocabulary. Spatial thinking is how we use concepts of space for problem solving and is shown to be a key skill in science, technology, engineering, and math. Includes a "Note to Parents and Caregivers" with extra mapping activities.

By: Stacy McAnulty
Illustrated by: Edward Hemingway
Published: February 7, 2017
Publisher: Two Lions
Format: Hardcover

I couldn't resist a book about a cat. This one came for a review and I'll be sharing it with you this month.

Mr. Fuzzbuster knew he was Lily’s favorite. They did everything together. Naps. Story time. Walks. And more naps. But now four more animals lived in the house.…
To prove he’s still Lily’s favorite, Mr. Fuzzbuster will have to ask her, but will her answer surprise him? This funny, heartwarming story is for every child who has ever wondered if there’s a favorite in the house.

That's a lot of books and I seem to not have much time to read lately. But, as always, if you read any of these be sure to let me know your thoughts!

I'm linking up with THE DELIBERATE READER for her monthly feature NEW ON THE STACK. To see other bloggers new books, click HERE.