Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Book Review: As Bright As Heaven By Susan Meissner


By: Susan Meissner

Published: February 6, 2018

Publisher: Berkley Books

Fiction/Historical Fiction

As a fan of Susan Meissner, I had no doubt that her tale of WWI and the crippling Spanish Flu would be a page-turning tale. I was not disappointed. Even though this tale of a family in Philadephia suffers greatly and tragic events fill the pages, I was still drawn to this story. Each chapter is told from a different character's perspective which gives the reader a broad view of how one small decision can change the trajectory of a family forever.

It's January 1918 and the Bright family has just buried their sweet infant, Henry, after an incurable heart condition. Pauline and her husband decide to join her husband's uncle in the funeral home business. This fairly new idea of funeral parlors and embalming is unheard of in their rural area, but Pauline is no longer afraid of death and has this desire to be closer to it. What she doesn't know is how surrounded by death she and her family will be.

Pauline and her three daughters tell their family's story. Evelyn, the bright teenager who is thrilled by the huge library in Philadephia. Maggie, the slightly younger caretaker of her siblings isn't afraid of what is behind the doors in the embalming room. Willa, the youngest, isn't happy with all the rules in this new house and doesn't understand why her family had to leave the countryside, her grandparents and live in a funeral home. As the family begins to adjust to living with Uncle Fred, to the dead bodies in the other side of the house, and the hustle and bustle of the city, their father decides to go help during the war efforts. Pauline is left behind to run the funeral home with Uncle Fred. There is word of a devastating flu moving swiftly through the city, but no one realizes the tragedies that lie ahead for them as bodies start to pile up outside their door.

You would think a story of war and a flu that took 12,000 lives in one city would be too full of sadness to read. Just when you think this family can't bear any more sadness, another layer is added, yet you keep reading because you have to believe there is hope for each of them. You have to believe that in the depths of a horrific disease, something will soon change. It does when Maggie finds a baby and saves him from certain death. This baby is the light in their dark tunnel. As Philadelphia emerges from disease, so too the Bright family must emerge from their own personal tragedies. Their story and resilience will amaze you and remind you that there can be happiness in even the worst of times.

Miessner expertly takes readers into the minds of her characters whether they are an eight-year-old girl full of fear and anger or a mother who can't shake the shadow of death following her every day since she buried her baby. The story moves swiftly because we are eager to hear the next character's voice. We wonder how Maggie is adjusting to her neighborhood crush leaving for the war or how Pauline is grappling with caring for her daughters and running an overflowing funeral home while trying to keep the disease away from her family.

I was fairly unaware of the devastation the Spanish Flu had in our country let alone the city of Philadephia. Meissner paints a vivid portrait of the awful events that took place and how it didn't discriminate...hitting the slums and the richest families equally. The fear seeps off the pages and the grief grabs you by the throat making it hard to believe any family could suffer this much. Fans of historical fiction and family stories will find Meissner's tale one they will want to talk about with others.

Favorite Quotes:

"You think you have a view of what's waiting for you just up the road, 
but then something happens,
 and you find out pretty quick you were looking at the wrong road."

"I think that grief is such a strange guest, 
making its home in a person 
like it's a new thing that no one has ever experienced before."

My review of A FALL OF MARIGOLDS by Susan Meissner
My review of A BRIDGE ACROSS THE OCEAN by Susan Meissner

Susan Meissner - source

Susan Meissner was born in San Diego, California, the second of three. She spent her childhood in just two houses. Her first writings are a laughable collection of oddly worded poems and predictable stories she wrote when she was eight.

She attended Point Loma College in San Diego and married her husband, Bob, who is now an associate pastor and a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves, in 1980. When she is not working on a new novel, she is directing the small group ministries at The Church at Rancho Bernardo. She also enjoys teaching workshops on writing and dream-following, spending time with my family, music, reading great books, and traveling. For more on Meissner, visit her website, HERE

To purchase a copy of AS BRIGHT AS HEAVEN, click the photo below:

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 commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

Children's Book Review: 1,000 Facts About the White House By Sarah Wassner Flynn


By: Sarah Wassner Flynn

Published: September 26, 2017

Publisher: National Geographic Children's Books


In celebration of President's Day this week, I'm featuring a book that gives you a personal tour inside the White House. This book is full of interesting facts, history, secrets related to privacy, and funny anecdotes. Kids and parents will enjoy reading this book and learning much about the most famous house in our country.

With over 40 sections of this book, there are facts on everything from the building and grounds to state dinners, food, Christmas, the Easter Egg Roll, rituals, decor, and security. Nothing is missed in this book full of fun information. History and political fans will love reading through this book.

Some neat things I learned from this book include:
  • At the flick of a switch, windows in the Situation Room frost over to give the president privacy.
  • President Theodore Roosevelt's daughter Alice kept a pet garter snake named Emily Spinach in the White House.
  • First daughter Susan Ford held her school's senior prom in the East Room of the White House in 1975.
  • There are 35 bathrooms among the six levels of the White House and they also have low-flush toilets to save water. 
  • Each year, some 300,000 people enter the lottery for the annual Easter Egg Roll. Just 35,000 tickets are available. Ticket holders get a two-hour time slot to play and roll before they are ushered out and the next group brought in.
  • President Thomas Jefferson had an ice house built on the White House Grounds so that he could have ice cream all year long. 
The book ends with a glossary of keywords, a timeline of dates in White House history, and a listing of all the Presidents including their name, nickname, term of office, political party, and First Lady. Hundreds of photos are included in the book featuring Presidents, their families, and their staff. It's definitely an inside look into the private world of the White House. I have family that works in the White House and I still learned so much about the White House from this book! Now I have all kinds of questions to ask them this summer when I see them!

This is a bigger, hardcover book and one that stands out on the shelf. The paper is high quality and glossy. The photographs are clear and detailed and give the reader even more to learn besides the facts on the pages. I highly recommend this book for libraries, classrooms, and homes! Planning a family vacation to Washington DC? Get this book first!

Sarah Wassner Flynn - source
Sarah Wassner Flynn is a freelance writer, author, and editor. She has authored numerous nonfiction books for National Geographic and contributed to their National Geographic Kids Almanac and their WEIRD BUT TRUE series. She is also an amateur triathlete. She lives in the suburbs of Washington DC with her husband and three children. For more information, check out her website, HERE

To purchase 1,000 FACTS ABOUT THE WHITE HOUSE, 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 sending this book for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to purchase the book through the above links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Children's Book Review: Ellie, Engineer By Jackson Pearce


By: Jackson Pearce

Published: January 16, 2018

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens


Ellie is a smart, young girl who likes "boy stuff" and "girl stuff". She likes to build and create things, play soccer, get dirty, wear pretty skirts (with her tool belt, of course), and have tea parties with her best friend, Kit. Ellie has a notebook where she keeps track of all her projects including the water balloon launcher (which was a hit) and the French Braider (which was not a hit). Ellie likes to draw out her ideas first in her notepad and use materials found in her workshop or parents' garage (of course, always getting permission first). Her workshop is part of her swingset and holds all her favorite tools.

Ellie and Kit are excited about Kit's upcoming birthday tea party when they overhear (thanks to one of Ellie's contraptions) about Kit's present. That gives Ellie the perfect gift idea. But, she isn't sure she can pull it off by herself and keep it a secret from Kit at the same time. She enlists some help from some friends but the secrets get to be too much and instead of having fun, everyone gets mad. The day of the party arrives and Ellie decides to ask for everyone's forgiveness and to pitch in to finish the project.

I absolutely love this creative and fun story of Ellie and her friends. She is a bright girl with lots of ideas and will be inspiring to girls to create their own ideas. She teaches that it is ok to be friends with boys and girls and like all kinds of things. There are drawing in the book of Ellie's ideas and both in the beginning stages and finished. Ellie has some misses and that is important for kids to realize it is okay to make mistakes and keep trying.

This chapter book is the perfect level for middle-grade readers. There are lots of little problems to solve and silly things that happen to keep kids interested. There are also friendship dilemmas that offer lessons for kids when dealing with their own issues. I think Pearce has created a wonderful concept for a series and it is one I could see girls and boys enjoying!

Jackson Pearce - source
Jackson Pearce lives in Atlanta, Georgia. She is the author of a series of teen retold fairy-tales as well as two stand-alone books. Pearce also writes under the name J. Nelle Patrick and has co-written books with Maggie Stiefvater. In an interview, Pearce states she was very much like Ellie in the book as a kid thanks to the encouragement of her father.  Growing up, Pearce loved dance and sparkles and fairytales but also building and engineering and lizards. She hopes her book and STEM learning, in general, inspires girls and boys to like whatever it is they like - and throw out that notion that there is "boy stuff" and "girl stuff". The second book in the ELLIE, ENGINEER series will come out later this year with online shorts available on her website in the near future. For more info, check out her website, HERE.

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

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Quick Lit: Mini Reviews of Some Recent Reads - February Edition

I'm trying to read more books that I choose for my own reading enjoyment. Not for review, but because I've been wanting to read them or they caught my attention. Most of them have been talked about ad nauseam or have been on my to-read list for a long time so they don't really need a full review. But, I'd still like to give them some space here on the blog.

I'll be linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy and her monthly Quick Lit link up. Be sure to head over to see others link up their Quick Lit posts. 

It's been a good month for reading. The genres are all over the place, but that is what keeps reading fun and interesting! I read 15 books during the month of January, but February has been a much slower pace. It's been a bit more hectic and I haven't reached for a book as much as I should have. I am traveling this weekend, so I'm hoping for some reading time while my husband is driving the 4 hours to our destination.

The Grace and Power of America's First Ladies
By: Kate Andersen Brower
Narrated by: Karen White
Published: April 12, 2016
Publisher: Harper
Format: Audiobook

This came recommended to me by two people, although one didn't like it as much as the other. Sadly, I was greatly disappointed in this book. First of all, I had a very difficult time connecting with the narrator. She had a monotonous computer-like voice. I tried listening at different speeds and it didn't seem to make a difference. I enjoyed some of the stories, but the book only focuses on First Ladies as far back as Jackie Kennedy. I would have enjoyed reading about First Ladies from much earlier as well, but I get that there would not be anyone left to interview and the stories would be solely researched based. While I appreciated some of the personal stories shared by staff, I felt like many of the stories was gossipy and uninteresting. Especially when the author pitted First Ladies against each other like Michelle Obama and Hilary Clinton. I am not sure what I was actually looking for from the book, maybe accomplishments and duties while in office, I don't know. I enjoyed the stories of the relationships between the First Ladies and their husbands before, during, and after the Presidency. I was shocked by the amount of extra-marital affairs that were had by Presidents.I also felt sad for Pat Nixon, Betty Ford, and Lady Bird Johnson who all had to deal with sensitive issues while in office as well as Jackie Kennedy who was so brave after her husband's assassination.  I was also planning to listen to THE RESIDENCE by the same author that talked about the behind the scenes stuff in the White House. But, I removed myself from the waitlist. I may try it again another time, but I just didn't think I could listen to another 14 hours of the narrator. 

I may have appreciated this more as a physical book because then I could have skimmed parts that I didn't like rather than be stuck listening to an audiobook. 

And Other Lessons from the Crematory
By: Caitlin Doughty
Published: September 28, 2015
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Format: eBook

After working in Hospice and having a cousin who is a mortician, I've always been curious about death. I think the idea of death haunts most of us. I don't like to think about it happening to anyone I love and care about much less happening to myself. This memoir of Doughty's life as a crematory worker answers questions and offers an interesting look at life after death. Doughty has some thought-provoking ideas about death that will definitely make you stop and consider how you want to be cared for after you die. It's going to happen so you may as well research your options, make a plan, and have conversations with your loved ones so your wishes can be carried out. It doesn't matter if you are 22 or 82, you should think about how you want to be buried. 

This book shares stories of Doughty's time at the crematory as well as bits from her childhood growing up in Hawaii. The passages on embalming were cringe-worthy yet, much like a car wreck, I couldn't look away. I had to keep reading. Doughty is a determined woman who has created a movement of sorts about death and now has her own funeral home in LA with alternative views about death. If you are curious, check out her website, HERE.  Incidentally, I recently had a cousin (she was in her 80s) pass away and she chose cremation and specified three different places she wanted her ashes spread. 

By: Laurie Frankel
Published: January 24, 2017
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Format: eBook

This book was highly recommended by Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy and it also made numerous Best Book Lists from 2017. I had been on the library wait list and my turn came up so I dove it. It was a very quick read with short chapters and interesting story to keep you turning (or swiping) the pages. 

This is the story of a family. A family that has to keep a HUGE secret. A family of seven, 5 children and 2 parents that are forced to keep a secret that once leaked, changes all of their lives forever. It's the story of Claude, the youngest child in this family that was so deeply wanted. Claude is the 5th of 5 boys, but Claude isn't like his brothers. Claude likes to play with dolls, play dress up, and wear dresses every day. The family doesn't seem to mind that Claude likes different things, but what scares them is how the rest of the world will react. So, they choose to keep it a secret and let Claude be who Claude wants to be. Until the secret comes out and everything changes forever....but maybe it wasn't a bad thing.

I struggled a bit with this book because of the subject matter. I had such empathy and praise for the parents and siblings. They were really the perfect family for Claude to be born into. Unfortunately, from working in a school system, I know first-hand how harsh kids (and parents) can be towards kids that are different. We have students in our own small school that identify with a different gender. Some have been that way since elementary and others it seems more of a fad or attention getter. Either way, this book has opened my eyes to understanding so much about kids who feel different or who are outside or what society deems normal. I highlighted many passages in this novel and found it to be an important read. Maybe not a favorite, but one I am glad I read.

By: Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Published: January 8, 2015
Publisher: Puffin Books
Format: Paperback

I first heard about this book on the What Should I Read Next Podcast. It was a Newbery Honor Book in 2016 as well as the recipient of many other bookish awards. After hearing so many great things about this book, I grabbed it at our school's book fair. Oh, my gosh, what a wonderful book. I shouldn't be surprised, of course, but it truly was an amazing story.

Ava and her brother Jamie live with their Mam although she doesn't really care for them much. Ava has a club foot, but her mom considers her to be a cripple and therefore stupid and a disgrace. Ava isn't allowed to go outside, to walk, or talk to anyone except her brother. Jamie, on the other hand, can go outside to run and play with the neighborhood kids. Then WWII comes and families are expected to send their children away to the smaller villages where they assume it will be safer than London. Mam has no intention of sending Ava away. No one would want her anyway. But, Ava sneaks away with Jamie and rides the train. Since they weren't on the "list" no one is expecting them and after looking at them, no one wants them. Until Susan Smith is approached and "encouraged" to take them in. What develops is a beautiful story of Ava and Jamie learning about the world around them, Susan learning what it means to love again, and the three of them coming together to save each other during the War. 

It's heartbreaking and yet heartwarming. It's scary and silly. I loved so many of the details, the transformation of Ava coming out of her shell, and the birth of Susan becoming a mother. It was a story I won't soon forget and can't wait to read the sequel THE WAR I FINALLY WON

By: Fredrik Backman
Published: November 1, 2016
Publisher: Atria Books
Format: Audiobook

I listened to this one on audio. It's a novella and a quick hour or so listen. The story involves a grandpa and his grandson having a conversation about Grandpa's brain no longer working right. The way Backman tells Grandpa's story and his struggles are spot-on. There were so many descriptions and quotes that I wanted to remember. It is a deeply emotional story, especially if you have known someone suffering from Alzheimer's or dementia. Noah, or Noah Noah, as Grandpa calls him, is an insightful and kind little boy who loves his grandpa. Their conversation on the bench in the park is one I won't soon forget. I had to stop a few times, yes in even this short novella, to just let myself cry and soak in the words. Another beautiful story from Fredrik Backman.

By: Ann Hood
Published: August 9, 2016
Publisher: W. W. Norton and Company
Format: eBook

I don't remember where I first heard about this book, but I added it to my library Bridges eBook waiting list. It finally came up and I finished it just in time before it disappeared from my Kindle. 

Ava is a struggling middle-aged woman. Her husband has left her for another woman and her two adult children are living outside the US. Ava has a great job teaching French but feels lost and unsure of what to do with her life. Her friend Cate tells her that an opening has come up in her book club and Ava decides to give it a try. Their theme for the year is choosing the one book that matters most to them. As the group members choose their books from A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN to A HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE, classics abound and Ava isn't sure this group is really for her. She even tries to cheat by watching the movie instead of reading the book. The book Ava chooses takes her back to her tragic childhood when her sister dies from an accident and her mother dies by choice. This book and the book club will be just the thing she needs to change her life. 

The book flips back and forth between Ava's life and her daughter Maggie. Maggie is assumed to be studying abroad in Florence, Italy, but instead, she has followed an older man to Paris and has gotten herself into a bit of trouble. The reader follows Maggie making poor choices and fall deeper into the dark hole of drugs while Ava is slowing coming out of her dark hole of despair. 

I was a bit surprised by this book as it wasn't what I expected, especially reading Maggie's escapades. But, as I got deeper into the novel, I understood why the author was taking us on this journey and even though the bow at the end of the story was tied a little too pretty, it was still a novel I was glad I read. 

A favorite quote: 

"It doesn't work that way," Ava said,
 "Your heart doesn't have a calendar 
that turns the page at a year 
and then, voila! you're over it."

This post contains affiliate links. If you click on the links above it will take you to that product's page on Amazon. If you choose to purchase I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. 

Friday, February 9, 2018

Children's Book Review: Our Story Begins By Elissa Brent Weissman

Your Favorite Authors and Illustrators Share Fun, Inspiring, and Occasionally Ridiculous Things They Wrote and Drew as Kids

Edited by: Elissa Brent Weissman

Published: July 4, 2017

Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers


I have a daughter who loves to write. In fact, just a few weeks ago, she showed me a story she is writing. She keeps it on her Google Drive and adds to it whenever she can. Who knows? Maybe she will be written about in a book like this someday! If anything, this book will inspire her to keep writing!

Some famous children's authors and illustrators have shared how they started out writing, drawing, and dreaming in OUR STORY BEGINS. This collection of short essays features 26 authors and illustrators sharing stories from their own childhoods. They dreamed of writing or being artists and their dreams have come true. Actual scanned images of pages from their notebooks, typewritten pages, and sketches fill the pages along with their childhood dreams. Not all of the authors were known to me, but their books were. My favorites included R.J. Palacio, the author of WONDER, who had parents that supported her dreams. Palacio had a great love of horses and her first published work was a poem titled "Winged Steed" during third grade in the school newspaper. Kwame Alexander's poem he wrote to his mom for Mother's Day is still framed on her wall. I loved how Weissman met author Gordon Korman at age 11. She wanted to be like him because he published his first book at thirteen. Now they are together in this book, sharing their stories of growing up.

These authors and illustrators are just like every other kid who feels vulnerable, left out at times, and has a dream...a dream of telling stories or creating pictures that tell a story. Each of them began their dreams as a child and through perseverance, luck, hard work, and true talent, their dreams have come true. I loved all the scanned images of the authors' and illustrators' real work as a child. I think these images make it so much more real for kids to dream big. They can physically see the silly stories these published authors were putting on paper as young kids. There are even childhood photos of the authors at the beginning of the chapters. Then each chapter closes with the accomplishments of the author or illustrator. This book is full of inspiration for your future writer or artist. I hope it inspires our daughter to keep writing!

Elissa Brent Weissman - source

Elissa Brent Weissman is an award-winning author of novels for 8-to-12-year olds. Her most recent books, NERD CAMP 2.0 and NIKHIL AND THE GEEK RETREAT are sequels to the popular NERD CAMP, which was named a best summer read for middle graders in The Washington Post. THE SHORT SELLER, about a seventh-grade stock-trading whiz, was a Girls’ Life must-read and featured on NPR’s “Here and Now.” Named one of CBS Baltimore’s Best Authors in Maryland, Elissa lives in Baltimore, where she teaches creative writing to children, college students, and adults. For more info, check out her website, HERE

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

Monday, February 5, 2018

Books that Came in January 2018

Well, it has been so good to get back to regular reading. I have been making the time to read whether I am at home in my favorite chair, riding in the van to a ball game, waiting for an appointment, or during my lunch. I always have a book going on my phone, on audible, and a physical book. I'm trying to go to my Kindle app on my phone when I have even just 5 minutes rather than scrolling through Facebook. I'm finding, even just checking Facebook once a day, allows me to see all I need to see and all those wasted minutes are better used for reading.

I'm still being super selective on new books I take on because I am so far behind on reading the books on my own shelves. I need to read the books on my own shelves so my shelves aren't so overflowing. Plus I'm always behind on my review books. I can't believe that I am telling you I read 15 books in January! Yes, 15! Now, in all honesty, 4 were middle-grade chapter books, 3 were children's books, and 2 were audiobooks. But, that still leaves 6 adult fiction/non-fiction books that I read with my own eyes. That is a lot for me. Trust me, I'm not sitting around the house all day reading. I've got a lot going on. But, like I said, I've been more intentional about my reading and it shows! I can't wait to see what my February reading looks like!


If you would like to purchase any of the books in this post, clicking the photo or title of the book will take you directly to the product on 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. 

By: Jackson Pearce
Published: January 16, 2018
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's 
Format: Paperback

This new middle-grade series is written to inspire tween girls in STEM. I LOVE this idea and can't wait to check out this book and see what will be next in the series. I think girls are going to LOVE these books.

The hilarious and smart start of a series about a girl who loves to build—STEM-powered, creative fun for girls.

Ellie is an engineer. With a tool belt strapped over her favorite skirt (who says you can’t wear a dress and have two kinds of screwdrivers handy, just in case?), she invents and builds amazing creations in her backyard workshop. Together with her best friend Kit, Ellie can make anything. As Kit’s birthday nears, Ellie doesn’t know what gift to make until the girls overhear Kit’s mom talking about her present—the dog Kit always wanted! Ellie plans to make an amazing doghouse, but her plans grow so elaborate that she has to enlist help from the neighbor boys and crafty girls, even though the two groups don’t get along. Will Ellie be able to pull off her biggest project yet?

Illustrated with Ellie’s sketches and plans, and including backmatter with how-tos, this is full of engineering fun!

Sharing Kindness with Our Animal Friends
By: Parry Gripp
Published: December 26, 2017
Publisher: National Geographic Children's Books
Format: Hardcover

The cover alone grabs you doesn't it? Another great Valentine's Day gift idea for the child in your life. I reviewed this already, HERE

Through adorable, uplifting photographs, and sweet, silly text, kids will learn not only how to interact with animals, but also just what makes you a good friend for your fuzzy, feathered, or scaly new bud. This fun book will inspire young animal lovers to understand their perfect new pal, giving kids lessons on being gentle with pets, making sure to care and love them, how to be patient, and more. Lyrical text illustrates the fun and companionship that dogs, cats, lizards, fish, rabbits, and all sorts of animal friends can offer. Parents and families considering or who've just gotten a new pet will have fun sharing and learning all about animals together. Plus, turn each page and sing along with Parry with an original song and music video!

By: Nickelodeon
Published: October 3, 2017
Publisher: SFI Readerlink Dist.
Format: Hardcover

Paw Patrol is a hugely popular Nickelodeon TV show and I'm anxious to check this out. I've never seen the show as our children were too old when it came out. The book also has a wrist projector that projects images onto your wall. I think most kids will think that is pretty cool.

Join the PAW Patrol team on two fun-filled adventure in this hardcover book that includes a removable communicator!  Pretend to contact the rest of the team while projecting images from the story directly onto the wall!

Whether it's Alex's first tooth that gets misplaced before he can put it under his pillow for the Tooth Fairy, or a flock of Symphony Songbirds that have gone missing from thier nests, the PAW Patrol is ready to rush to the rescue! Read these two pup-tastic adventures, and use your wrist projector to display ten images on the wall that extend the action!

By: Steve Wilson and Lucy Tapper
Published: December 15, 2015
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company, LLC
Format: Board Book

I saw this at Target and read it. I'm a sucker for Hedgehogs since my parents had one for a pet when I was in college. It's a super sweet story and one that would make the perfect Valentine's Day gift for a little one in your life. I'll be sending it to my great-nieces!

Horace and Hattie are hedgehogs, and the very best of friends. Together, they make daisy chains, splash in puddles, and have tea parties. But there is one thing they can't do—hug! They are just too spiky. Throughout the seasons, these two hedgehogs will try many different ways of hugging. But will Horace and Hattie find a hug that feels just right?

Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I'm Learning to Say
By: Kelly Corrigan
Published: January 9, 2018
Publisher: Random House
Format: Audiobook

This was on my radar, but after reading Bermudaonion's review, I knew I had to read it. I listened to her book THE MIDDLE PLACE and really identified with much of her feelings on parenting and being a child of aging parents. I used an audible credit for this one and since it's just over 4 hours long, I'm sure I'll be listening to it soon.

In "I Don't Know," Corrigan wrestles to make peace with uncertainty, whether it's over expected invitations that never come or a friend's agonizing infertility. In "No," she admires her mother's ability to set boundaries, her liberating willingness to be unpopular. In "Tell Me More," she learns something important about listening from a facialist named Tish. And in "I Was Wrong," she comes clean about her disastrous role in a family fight--and explains why saying sorry may not be enough. With refreshing candor, a deep well of empathy, and her signature desire to understand "the thing behind the thing," Corrigan swings in this insightful book between meditations on life with a preoccupied husband and two mercurial teenage daughters to profound observations on love and loss.

In channeling the characteristically streetwise, ever-relatable voice that has defined Corrigan's work, Tell Me More is a meaningful, touching take on the power of the right words at the right moment to change everything.

The Grace and Power of America's First Ladies
By: Kate Anderson Brower
Published: April 12, 2016
Publisher: Harper
Format: Audiobook

I forgot to mention this one last month. I purchased it with an Audible credit after two people suggested I might like it. I've finished it and will be talking about it my Quick Lit post in a couple weeks. I'll just say, I was a bit disappointed and didn't like it as much as I had hoped.

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the groundbreaking backstairs look at the White House, The Residence, comes an intimate, news-making look at the true modern power brokers at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: the First Ladies, from Jackie Kennedy to Michelle Obama.

One of the most underestimated—and challenging—positions in the world, the First Lady of the United States must be many things: an inspiring leader with a forward-thinking agenda of her own; a savvy politician, skilled at navigating the treacherous rapids of Washington; a wife and mother operating under constant scrutiny; and an able CEO responsible for the smooth operation of countless services and special events at the White House. Now, as she did in her smash #1 bestseller The Residence, former White House correspondent Kate Andersen Brower draws on a wide array of untapped, candid sources—from residence staff and social secretaries to friends and political advisers—to tell the stories of the ten remarkable women who have defined that role since 1960.

Brower offers new insights into this privileged group of remarkable women, including Jacqueline Kennedy, Lady Bird Johnson, Patricia Nixon, Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, and Michelle Obama. The stories she shares range from the heartwarming to the shocking and tragic, exploring everything from the first ladies’ political crusades to their rivalries with Washington figures; from their friendships with other first ladies to their public and private relationships with their husbands. She also offers a detailed and insightful new portrait of one of the most-watched first ladies of all time, Hillary Clinton, asking what her tumultuous years in the White House may tell us about her own historic presidential run . . . and what life could be like with the nation’s first First Husband.

Candid and illuminating, this first group biography of the modern first ladies provides a revealing look at life upstairs and downstairs at the world’s most powerful address.

And Other Lessons from the Crematory
By: Caitlin Doughty
Published: September 28, 2015
Publisher: W. W. Norton and Company
Format: eBook

I don't remember where I first heard about this book, but I added it to my Overdrive account and my turn finally came up. It's morbid, horrid, and fascinating. I'll be talking about it in my Quick Lit post in a couple weeks.

Most people want to avoid thinking about death, but Caitlin Doughty—a twenty-something with a degree in medieval history and a flair for the macabre—took a job at a crematory, turning morbid curiosity into her life’s work. Thrown into a profession of gallows humor and vivid characters (both living and very dead), Caitlin learned to navigate the secretive culture of those who care for the deceased.

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes tells an unusual coming-of-age story full of bizarre encounters and unforgettable scenes. Caring for dead bodies of every color, shape, and affliction, Caitlin soon becomes an intrepid explorer in the world of the dead. She describes how she swept ashes from the machines (and sometimes onto her clothes) and reveals the strange history of cremation and undertaking, marveling at bizarre and wonderful funeral practices from different cultures.

Her eye-opening, candid, and often hilarious story is like going on a journey with your bravest friend to the cemetery at midnight. She demystifies death, leading us behind the black curtain of her unique profession. And she answers questions you didn’t know you had: Can you catch a disease from a corpse? How many dead bodies can you fit in a Dodge van? What exactly does a flaming skull look like?

Honest and heartfelt, self-deprecating and ironic, Caitlin's engaging style makes this otherwise taboo topic both approachable and engrossing. Now a licensed mortician with an alternative funeral practice, Caitlin argues that our fear of dying warps our culture and society, and she calls for better ways of dealing with death (and our dead).

By: Jonas Jonasson
Published: September 11, 2012
Publisher: Hachette Books
Format: Paperback

One of the small town libraries near us had their book sale so I grabbed this one. It's been said to be a combination of A MAN CALLED OVE and FORREST GUMP. Can't wait to read it!

A reluctant centenarian much like Forrest Gump (if Gump were an explosives expert with a fondness for vodka) decides it’s not too late to start over …

After a long and eventful life, Allan Karlsson ends up in a nursing home, believing it to be his last stop. The only problem is that he’s still in good health, and in one day, he turns 100. A big celebration is in the works, but Allan really isn’t interested (and he’d like a bit more control over his vodka consumption). So he decides to escape. He climbs out the window in his slippers and embarks on a hilarious and entirely unexpected journey, involving, among other surprises, a suitcase stuffed with cash, some unpleasant criminals, a friendly hot-dog stand operator, and an elephant (not to mention a death by elephant).

It would be the adventure of a lifetime for anyone else, but Allan has a larger-than-life backstory: Not only has he witnessed some of the most important events of the twentieth century, but he has actually played a key role in them. Starting out in munitions as a boy, he somehow finds himself involved in many of the key explosions of the twentieth century and travels the world, sharing meals and more with everyone from Stalin, Churchill, and Truman to Mao, Franco, and de Gaulle. Quirky and utterly unique, The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared has charmed readers across the world.

A Library of Art for Book Lovers
By: Guinevere De La Mare
Published: August 15, 2017
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Format: Hardcover

I had a credit and a coupon to use on Chronicle Books so I chose this lovely book. It's more for decoration that reading. It has artwork, poems, and quotes inside related to all things books and reading.

For anyone who'd rather be reading than doing just about anything else, this book is the ultimate must-have. In this visual ode to all things bookish, readers will get lost in page after page of beautiful contemporary art, photography, and illustrations depicting the pleasures of books. Artwork from the likes of Jane Mount, Lisa Congdon, Julia Rothman, and Sophie Blackall is interwoven with text from essayist Maura Kelly, bestselling author Gretchen Rubin, and award-winning author and independent bookstore owner Ann Patchett. Rounded out with poems, quotations, and aphorisms celebrating the joys of reading, this lovingly curated compendium is a love letter to all things literary and the perfect gift for bookworms everywhere. 

By: April Henry
Published: June 17, 2014
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Format: Paperback

I purchased this book for our daughter with her birthday coupon from Barnes and Noble. She is a reader, which I love, but we read completely different books. She likes dark and scary stuff and I don't. So, I can't tell you anything else about this novel except she has already read it and her birthday was just a couple weeks ago. She also begged for more by April Henry but since several are below her AR level, I was limited to what I could choose. This is apparently Book 1 in a series as well.

In this new series told from multiple perspectives, teen members of a search and rescue team discover a dead body in the woods.

Alexis, Nick, and Ruby have very different backgrounds: Alexis has spent her life covering for her mom’s mental illness, Nick’s bravado hides his fear of not being good enough, and Ruby just wants to pursue her eccentric interests in a world that doesn’t understand her. When the three teens join Portland County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, they are teamed up to search for a autistic man lost in the woods. What they find instead is a dead body. In a friendship that will be forged in danger, fear, and courage, the three team up to find the girl’s killer—before he can strike one of their own.

This first book in April Henry’s Point Last Seen YA mystery series is full of riveting suspense, putting readers in the middle of harrowing rescues and crime scene investigations.

By: April Henry
Published: September 28, 2010
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co
Format: Paperback

Another choice for my daughter. This is an older one but fits her AR level. It's also the first in a series. 

Sixteen-year-old Cheyenne Wilder is sleeping in the back of the car while her stepmom fills a prescription for antibiotics. Before Cheyenne realizes what's happening, the car is being stolen.

Griffin hadn't meant to kidnap Cheyenne and once he finds out that not only does she have pneumonia, but that she's blind, he really doesn't know what to do. When his dad finds out that Cheyenne's father is the president of a powerful corporation, everything changes--now there's a reason to keep her. 

How will Cheyenne survive this nightmare?

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

As always, be sure to let me know if you read any of these.