Books that Came My Way in February 2019

This is my monthly roundup of books that were added to my shelves in the last month. I also share an update with you on other things going on in my life.

The basketball season ended a little sooner than we had hoped for our team. But lots of memories were made and we will miss watching Bennett play!

The show choir season is also over for Bennett. We had one of the most successful years on record for show choir at our school. We won 4 Grand Champion trophies and received 3rd place at two major “big city” competitions beating out schools much bigger than us. I’m really going to miss this group of performers. But thankfully, I have four more years of it with our daughter coming up next year.

Our daughter is part of the middle school show choir and they get a taste of what high school show choir is like competing in a couple competitions. Her season is over as well and I can’t wait to have her as part of the high school show choir and all the memories and friendships she will make.

Photo courtesy of Central College

Patrick has finished up his freshman indoor track season. He did really well and had some PRs. He is off now until April when the outdoor track season starts.

Since January, we have had 12 no school-snow days and several late starts or early dismissals. The snow drifts around our neighborhood are so high they come up to the roofs of some of the houses. It’s hard to believe we are supposed to have our first high school home track meet in a few weeks when we can’t even see the track under several feet of snow. I’m hoping March comes in like a lamb and goes out like a lamb as well!

I have so many wonderful books to tell you about this month. Seriously, my mailbox was overflowing some days! I have 28 books to tell you about this month, which is basically getting one book a day last month! If you have missed any of my recent book reviews, you can see all of them by clicking, HERE.  Or you can stay up to date with my monthly Quick Lit Roundup.

Currently Reading:  YOU LEARN BY LIVINGTHE BOOKS THAT CHANGED MY LIFE, THE TRAVELLING CAT CHRONICLES

Currently Listening: THIS BLESSED EARTH

Up Next: THE GIRLS IN THE PICTURE

If you would like to purchase any of the books in this post, click on the photo or title of the book to be directly taken 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. All book bios are taken from goodreads.com.

THE SECRET OF CLOUDS

By: Alyson Richman

Published: February 19, 2019

Publisher: Berkley

Fiction

Format: Hardcover

I first read Alyson Richman in GRAND CENTRAL: Stories of Post-War Love and Reunion. The gorgeous cover and compelling synopsis drew me in.


Katya, a rising ballerina, and Sasha, a graduate student, are young and in love when an unexpected tragedy befalls their native Kiev. Years later, after the couple has safely emigrated to America the consequences of this incident cause their son, Yuri, to be born with a rare health condition that isolates him from other children. Maggie, a passionate and dedicated teacher agrees to tutor Yuri at his home, even though she is haunted by her own painful childhood memories. As the two forge a deep and soulful connection, Yuri’s boundless curiosity and unique wisdom inspires Maggie to make difficult changes in her own life. And she’ll never realize just how strong Yuri has made her — until she needs that strength the most……

A novel that will make readers examine what it means to live life with a full heart. 

DARK BLOSSOM

By: Neel Mullick

Published: December 21, 2018

Publisher: Rupa Publications

Fiction

Format: Paperback

I didn’t know anything about this book before it arrived in my mailbox. It’s a short book and I am intrigued by the synopsis.


Sam returns home from a business trip a day before his son’s thirteenth birthday and is looking forward to being with his family, when his world is cruelly shattered in one fell swoop. Initially he thinks he can cope with the loss, but finally seeks the help of Cynthia, an experienced therapist, to regain his equipoise. What he does not know is that Cynthia herself is trying to cope with a debilitating divorce and the sinister shadow of her ex-husband over her daughter…

What happens when doctor and patient find themselves in the same sinking boat? Moreover, when they are rowing in opposite directions–one clinging to the past, and the other unable to get rid of it! In the midst of it all is Lily, Cynthia’s daughter, who harbours a secret that has the power to explode the lives around her.

THE WINTER SISTER

By: Megan Collins

Published: February 5, 2019

Publisher: Atria Books

Fiction

Format: Hardcover

I’m a sucker for a sister story and this one has been getting really great reviews.


Sixteen years ago, Sylvie’s sister Persephone never came home. Out too late with the boyfriend she was forbidden to see, Persephone was missing for three days before her body was found—and years later, her murder remains unsolved.

In the present day, Sylvie returns home to care for her estranged mother, Annie, as she undergoes treatment for cancer. Prone to unexplained “Dark Days” even before Persephone’s death, Annie’s once-close bond with Sylvie dissolved in the weeks after their loss, making for an uncomfortable reunion all these years later. Worse, Persephone’s former boyfriend, Ben, is now a nurse at the cancer center where Annie is being treated. Sylvie’s always believed Ben was responsible for the murder—but she carries her own guilt about that night, guilt that traps her in the past while the world goes on around her.

As she navigates the complicated relationship with her mother, Sylvie begins to uncover the secrets that fill their house—and what really happened the night Persephone died. As it turns out, the truth really will set you free, once you can bear to look at it.

The Winter Sister is a mesmerizing portrayal of the complex bond between sisters, between mothers and daughters alike, and forces us to ask ourselves—how well do we really know the people we love most? 

THE LAST YEAR OF THE WAR

By: Susan Meissner

Published: March 19, 2019

Publisher: Berkley

Fiction/Historical Fiction

Format: Hardcover

Susan Meissner’s books always make my favorites lists. I can’t wait to read this one! Plus the character is an Iowa girl!


Elise Sontag is a typical Iowa fourteen-year-old in 1943–aware of the war but distanced from its reach. Then her father, a legal U.S. resident for nearly two decades, is suddenly arrested on suspicion of being a Nazi sympathizer. The family is sent to an internment camp in Texas, where, behind the armed guards and barbed wire, Elise feels stripped of everything beloved and familiar, including her own identity.

The only thing that makes the camp bearable is meeting fellow internee Mariko Inoue, a Japanese-American teen from Los Angeles, whose friendship empowers Elise to believe the life she knew before the war will again be hers. Together in the desert wilderness, Elise and Mariko hold tight the dream of being young American women with a future beyond the fences.

THE EIGHT MOUNTAINS

By: Paolo Cognetti

Published: February 19, 2019

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Fiction

Format: Paperback

I didn’t know anything about this book before it arrived in my mailbox, but based on the reviews, I’m sure I’ll love it.


For fans of Elena Ferrante, Fredrik Backman, and Paulo Coelho comes the international sensation about the friendship between two young Italian boys from different backgrounds and how their incredibly strong connection evolves, changes, and challenges them throughout their lives. Pietro is a lonely boy living in Milan. With his parents becoming more distant each day, the only thing the family shares is their love for the Dolomites, the mountains that hug the northeastern border of Italy. While on vacation at the foot of the mountains, Pietro meets Bruno, an adventurous, spirited local boy. Together they spend many summers exploring the mountain’s meadows and peaks and discover the similarities and differences in their lives, their backgrounds, and their futures. The two boys come to find the true meaning of friendship and camaraderie, even as their divergent paths in life– Bruno’s in the mountains, Pietro’s in cosmopolitan cities across the world–test the strength and meaning of their connection. A modern Italian masterpiece, The Eight Mountains is a lyrical coming-of-age story about the power of male friendships and the enduring bond between fathers and sons. “There are no more universal themes than those of the landscape, friendship, and becoming adults, and Cognetti’s writing becomes classical (and elegant) to best tell this story

WUNDERLAND

By: Jennifer Cody Epstein

Published:April 23, 2019

Publisher: Crown

Fiction/Historical Fiction

Format: Paperback

This is exactly the kind of book I love to read. Dual time periods, historical fiction, and a new-to-me author. Can’t wait to read it.


East Village, 1989
Things had never been easy between Ava Fisher and her estranged mother Ilse. Too many questions hovered between them: Who was Ava’s father? Where had Ilse been during the war? Why had she left her only child in a German orphanage during the war’s final months? But now Ilse’s ashes have arrived from Germany, and with them, a trove of unsent letters addressed to someone else unknown to Ava: Renate Bauer, a childhood friend. As her mother’s letters unfurl a dark past, Ava spirals deep into the shocking history of a woman she never truly knew.
Berlin, 1933
As the Nazi party tightens its grip on the city, Ilse and Renate find their friendship under siege–and Ilse’s increasing involvement in the Hitler Youth movement leaves them on opposing sides of the gathering storm. Then the Nuremburg Laws force Renate to confront a long-buried past, and a catastrophic betrayal is set in motion…
An unflinching exploration of Nazi Germany and its legacy, Wunderland is a at once a powerful portrait of an unspeakable crime history and a page-turning contemplation of womanhood, wartime, and just how far we might go in order to belong.

WE OWN THE SKY

By: Luke Allnutt

Published: April 3, 2018

Publisher: Parker Row

Fiction

Format: Paperback

This is the Target book club choice this month. The synopsis is pretty compelling and a new-to-me author as well.


Rob Coates is a survivor. 

He’d thought he’d won the lottery of life—a beautiful home, an incredible wife Anna, and their precious son Jack, who makes every day an extraordinary adventure. But when tragedy befalls his family, Rob becomes his own worst enemy, pushing away all he holds dear. With his world now suddenly just outside of his grasp, Rob turns to photography, capturing the beautiful skyscrapers and clifftops he used to visit—memories of the time when his family was happy. And just when it feels as though there’s nowhere left to turn, Rob embarks on the most unforgettable of journeys to reclaim the joy and love he thought he’d lost. 

Deeply emotional, beautifully written, and filled with tremendous heart, We Own the Sky is a soaring debut about the strength of the human spirit and the boundlessness of love. It is a stunningly honest reminder of life’s greatest gifts, showing how even a broken heart can learn to beat again. 

THE THINGS WE CHERISHED

By: Pam Jenoff

Published: July 12, 2011

Publisher: Doubleday

Fiction/Historical Fiction

Format: Hardcover

One of the local small town libraries had their book sale last week and I snagged a couple books that were already on my reading list. I love Pam Jenoff’s books and am happy to add this one to my shelves.


An ambitious novel that spans decades and continents, The Things We Cherished tells the story of Charlotte Gold and Jack Harrington, two fiercely independent attor­neys who find themselves slowly falling for one another while working to defend the brother of a Holocaust hero against allegations of World War II–era war crimes. 

The defendant, wealthy financier Roger Dykmans, mysteri­ously refuses to help in his own defense, revealing only that proof of his innocence lies within an intricate timepiece last seen in Nazi Germany. As the narrative moves from Philadelphia to Germany, Poland, and Italy, we are given glimpses of the lives that the anniversary clock has touched over the past century, and learn about the love affair that turned a brother into a traitor. 

Rich in historical detail, Jenoff’s astonishing new work is a testament to true love under the worst of circumstances. 

SONGS WITHOUT WORDS

By: Ann Packer

Published: January 1, 2007

Publisher: Knopf

Fiction

Format: Hardcover

This is the other book I grabbed at the library book sale last week. I read THE DIVE FROM CLAUSEN’S PIER many years ago and loved it. This follow-up has been on my list forever.


This stunning follow-up to the bestselling The Dive from Clausen’s Pier takes readers on a journey into a life-long friendship tested by a harrowing crisis.

SAVE ME THE PLUMS

My Gourmet Memoir

By: Ruth Reichl

Published: April 2, 2019

Publisher: Random House

Non-Fiction/Memoir

Format: Paperback

I’ve read a couple of Reichl’s other books and enjoyed them. This one was a win from bookreporter.com!


When Condé Nast offered Ruth Reichl the top position at America’s oldest epicurean magazine, she declined. She was a writer, not a manager, and had no inclination to be anyone’s boss. And yet . . . Reichl had been reading Gourmet since she was eight; it had inspired her career. How could she say no?

This is the story of a former Berkeley hippie entering the corporate world and worrying about losing her soul. It is the story of the moment restaurants became an important part of popular culture, a time when the rise of the farm-to-table movement changed, forever, the way we eat. Readers will meet legendary chefs like David Chang and Eric Ripert, idiosyncratic writers like David Foster Wallace, and a colorful group of editors and art directors who, under Reichl’s leadership, transformed stately Gourmet into a cutting-edge publication. This was the golden age of print media–the last spendthrift gasp before the Internet turned the magazine world upside down.

Complete with recipes, Save Me the Plums is a personal journey of a woman coming to terms with being in charge and making a mark, following a passion and holding on to her dreams–even when she ends up in a place she never expected to be. 

WILD AWAKENING

How A Raging Grizzly Healed My Wounded Heart

By: Greg J. Matthews

Published:June 18, 2019

Publisher: Howard Books

Non-Fiction/Memoir

Format: Paperback

This is another book that I hadn’t heard of until it arrived in my mailbox. Definitely an intriguing story.


Greg Matthews was the ultimate poster-boy for masculinity. Avid hunter and outdoorsman, Air Force and civilian firefighter, EMT, rescue helicopter pilot, fugitive recovery agent, Ground Zero volunteer and more, Greg had spent his whole life striving to serve others but for all the wrong reasons. After his parents’ divorce when he was young, Greg believed deep down that the only way he could be loved and valued—by his father, by his family, and by God—was if he earned it through daring, high-stakes, high-risk—what society commonly refers to as “manly”—achievements.

But everything changed when an idyllic hunting trip through the backwoods of Alaska turned into a harrowing fight for his life. Greg was attacked by a grizzly bear—but the gruesome, nearly fatal conflict offered an unexpected encounter with God. Greg’s eyes, and more importantly, his heart, were finally opened to the lie that he’d internalized as a child: that his dangerously high-risk achievements were the sole signifiers of his worth. The road to recovery was long and painful, but it forced Greg to come face-to-face with the long-held view of manhood he had absorbed as his own identity. The relentless grizzly uncovered something in Greg’s heart: that he was being pursued by an equally persistent God, who loved him unconditionally.

A gripping tale of survival and a rebuttal to outmoded notions about masculinity, Wild Awakening offers an alternative way of living in the world, allowing them to finally see their value in God’s eyes. 

X-PLAN PARENTING

Become Your Child’s Ally – A Guide to Rsising Strong Kinds in a Challenging World

By: Bert Fulks

Published: June 11, 2019

Publisher: Howard Books

Non-Fiction/Parenting

Format: Paperback

I remember hearing about the idea of our kids texting “x” if they feel like they need help or a parent to come to get them. It sparked a conversation with our kids about doing that if they ever felt unsafe or in a situation they wanted to get out of. I didn’t know about this book until it arrived in my mailbox, but I’m sure I’ll find some helpful information in parenting our teens and young adults.


Last year, father and former teacher Bert Fulks’s simple parenting idea went viral: if your teenagers find themselves in a situation where they feel uncomfortable or trapped, they can text a family member an “X.” That family member will then call, giving the teen a way out, while still maintaining their freedom—and no questions will be asked.

Now in X-Plan Parenting, Fulks expands on the how and the why behind his plan, emphasizing the importance of developing trusting relationships with our kids. Drawing on biblical principles, Fulks’s approach illuminates how even though we want the very best for our children, we sometimes parent from a place of brokenness and a desire for control rather than support and encouragement. We focus on our mistakes and painful growing-up moments and the things we wish we’d had when we were kids instead of what’s best for our own children right now. This dynamic can pit kids against their parents and create rifts in the relationship.

Fulks advocates for an alliance between children and parents instead of an “us vs. them” mentality. Rather than spending so much time coaxing or battling our kids, Fulks inspires us to work with our kids instead of against them. And rather than trying to right our own past wrongs vicariously through our children, he urges us to recognize where we need healing so we can provide authentic strength to support our kids’ unique journeys.

There is a tender art to disciplining our kids, and X-Plan Parenting serves up laughter and tears, hard questions, and plenty of grace to moms and dads who want their kids to love God and lead passionate, joyful lives in an unpredictable world.

THE SHAMAN’S GUIDE TO POWER ANIMALS

By: Lori Morrison

Published: March 19, 2019

Publisher: Four Jaguars Press

Non-Fiction/Spiritual

Format: Paperback

I am really uninformed about the idea of Shaman spirituality. As a Christian, I’m skeptical, but will give it a look.


The spirit world is alive and well through the generosity and concern that Power Animals show us. From the voices of the animals we can learn the lessons of our connection to all things. Listening and learning, we come to know ourselves. 

Throughout history, Power Animals have served humanity as our spiritual protectors, guides, companions, and helpers. Whether in the mystery schools of ancient Egypt or in the emerging contemporary shamanism movement, the embodiment of animal spirits, the revelations of their symbolism, and the profundity of their lessons is a gift that can bring us a deeper truth and empowerment. Shamans rely heavily on the guidance and wisdom of Power Animals. This book holds an accumulation of knowledge from shamans all over the world, researched and interpreted by shamanic practitioner Lori Morrison who has years of experience in working with Power Animal allies. Also included is the channeled information from each of the featured Power Animals. Their messages are fresh, practical, and can lead you into a journey of spiritual evolution. 

The wisdom of this guidebook will help you to identify and embrace your human connection to the spirits of almost 200 Power Animals and the natural world. These connections can stay with you for life and will give you a greater appreciation of the living beings with whom we walk the Earth. This guide will also help you to understand the significance of animals that appear spontaneously from time to time to wake you up, help you uncover new aspects of yourself, and to change the way you see and experience the world. 

EMBRACING THE JOURNEY

A Christian Parents’ Blueprint to Loving Your LGBTQ Child

By: Greg and Lynn McDonald

Published: March 5, 2019

Publisher: Howard Books

Non-Fiction/Christian/parenting

Format: Hardcover

I am not a parent of a LGBTQ child, but I do have a couple friends who are. This may help me understand their struggles and allow me to pass this book on to them as well.


Greg and Lynn McDonald had never interacted with members of the LGBTQ community until they discovered that their son was gay—and without resources or support, they had no idea how to handle this discovery. At first they tried to “fix” him, to no avail. But even in the earliest days of their journey, the McDonalds clung to two absolutes: they would love God, and they would love their son.

This bookfollows the McDonald family’s journey over the next twenty years, from a place of grief to a place of gratitude and acceptance that led the McDonalds’ to start one of the first Christian ministries for parents of LGBTQ children. Based on their experience from counseling and coaching hundreds of struggling Christian parents, they offer tools for understanding your own emotional patterns and spiritual challenges. They also help you experience a deeper relationship with God while handling difficult or unexpected situations that are out of your control. You will discover tested principles, patterns, and spiritual lessons that can change the way we all see our families, and help Christians at large think though Christ-like ways to respond to the LGBTQ community.

Written in an unvarnished, honest, reassuring, and relatable voice, this is a practical guide for parents and a roadmap to learning to love God, the people He created, and the church, even when they seem to be at odds. 

CYBER SMART

Five Habits to Protect Your Family, Money, and Identity from Cyber Criminals

By: Bart R. McDonough

Published: December 5, 2018

Publisher: Wiley

Non-Fiction

Format: Paperback

We’ve had our credit card number stolen and it is such a hassle every time it happens. I think there is so much we don’t know about hackers and how easy it is to get our personal information. I’m sure this will be eye-opening.


The rise of new technologies in our lives, which has taken us from powerful mobile phones to fitness trackers and smart appliances in under a decade, has also raised the need for everyone who uses these to protect themselves from cyber scams and hackers.  Every new device and online service you use that improves your life also opens new doors for attackers looking to discover your passwords, banking accounts, personal photos, and anything else you want to keep secret.
In Cyber Smart, author Bart McDonough uses his extensive cybersecurity experience speaking at conferences for the FBI, major financial institutions, and other clients to answer the most common question he hears: “How can I protect myself at home, on a personal level, away from the office?” McDonough knows cybersecurity and online privacy are daunting to the average person so Cyber Smart simplifies online good hygiene with five simple “Brilliance in the Basics” habits anyone can learn. With those habits and his careful debunking of common cybersecurity myths you’ll be able to protect yourself and your family from:
Identify theft Compromising your children Lost money Lost access to email and social media accountsDigital security is one of the most important, and least understood, aspects of our daily lives. But it doesn’t have to be. Thanks to its clear instruction, friendly tone, and practical strategies, Cyber Smart will help you rest more easily, knowing you and your family are protected from digital attack.

ELEANOR

A Spiritual Biography

By: Harold Ivan Smith

Published: March 2, 2017

Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press

Non-Fiction/Biography

Format: Paperback

As a member of United Methodist Women, one of the activities we can participate in is their Reading Program. Their reading list includes a number books for each year that relate to activism, mission work, and Christian teaching. I decided I wanted to add some of the books from the reading list to my reading this year. This is one of the ones I chose since I am very interested in Eleanor Roosevelt and her wisdom.

More than fifty years after her death, Eleanor Roosevelt is remembered as a formidable first lady and tireless social activist. Often overlooked, however, is her deep and inclusive spirituality. Her personal faith was shaped by reading the New Testament in her youth, giving her a Jesus-centered spirituality that fueled her commitment to civil rights, women s rights, and the rights of all little people marginalized in American society.

She took seriously Jesus words and despite her life of privilege, she made the needs of those on the margins her priority. “Eleanor: A Spiritual Biography” provides insight into one of America’s most famous women, particularly the spiritual influences that made her so active in social justice issues.

THE SOULMAKING ROOM

By: Dee Dee Risher

Published: April 1, 2016

Publisher: Upper Room Books

Non-Fiction/Christian

Format: Paperback

Another choice from the UMW Reading Program.


The Soulmaking Room addresses the spiritual challenges of the middle years. For many people, these years bring failure, uncertainty, and losses. Dee Dee Risher probes how struggles, losses, failures, and pain can actually result in a spiritually whole, authentic life.

In this personal, funny, and vulnerable narrative, Risher is unrelentingly honest about money, race, marriage, class, parenting, and spirituality. This powerful, poetic book shows how grappling with universal experiences of human life can make people more resilient, deeper, and truer to their identity. The Soulmaking Room is for anyone who wants to look life right in the eye and come out more whole.

THE MEMORY OF US

By: Camille Di Maio

Published: May 31, 2016

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Fiction/Historical Fiction

Format: eBook – free

As a member of the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) one of my perks is a free eBook each year. This is the one I chose from their list.


Julianne Westcott was living the kind of life that other Protestant girls in prewar Liverpool could only dream about: old money, silk ball gowns, and prominent young men lining up to escort her. But when she learns of a blind-and-deaf brother, institutionalized since birth, the illusion of her perfect life and family shatters around her.
While visiting her brother in secret, Julianne meets and befriends Kyle McCarthy, an Irish Catholic groundskeeper studying to become a priest. Caught between her family’s expectations, Kyle’s devotion to the church, and the intense new feelings that the forbidden courtship has awakened in her, Julianne must make a choice: uphold the life she’s always known or follow the difficult path toward love.
But as war ripples through the world and the Blitz decimates England, a tragic accident forces Julianne to leave everything behind and forge a new life built on lies she’s told to protect the ones she loves. Now, after twenty years of hiding from her past, the truth finds her—will she be brave enough to face it?

I’LL BE THERE FOR YOU

The One about Friends

By: Kelsey Miller

Published: October 23, 2018

Publisher: Hanover Square Press

Non-Fiction

Format: eBook through library

I gave this to my niece for Christmas since she is a huge “Friends” fan. But then I had wished I had gotten a copy for myself, but thankfully it was available through my library’s Overdrive program. It was a good read and I’ll be talking about it later this month in my Quick Lit post.


This definitive retrospective of Friends incorporates interviews, history and behind-the-scenes anecdotes to offer a critical analysis of how a sitcom about six twentysomethings changed television forever

When Friends debuted in 1994, no one expected it to become a mainstay of NBC’s Must See TV lineup, let alone a global phenomenon. In the years since, Friends has gone through many phases of cultural relevancy, from prime-time hit to 90s novelty item to certified classic. Ross, Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Joey, and Phoebe have entered the pantheon of great television characters, and millions of people around the globe continue to tune in or stream their stories every day.

I’ll Be There for You is the definitive retrospective of Friends, exploring all aspects of the show from its unlikely origins to the elusive reasons why we still watch it. Journalist and pop culture expert Kelsey Miller relives the show’s most iconic moments, analyzes the ways in which Friends is occasionally problematic and examines the many trends it inspired, from the rise of coffee-shop culture to Friendsgivings to the ultimate 90s haircut, the Rachel.

Weaving incisive commentary, revelatory interviews and behind-the-scenes anecdotes involving high-profile guest stars, I’ll Be There for You is the most comprehensive take on Friends, and the ultimate book for fans everywhere. 



THIS BLESSED EARTH

A Year in the Life of an American Family Farm

By: Ted Genoways

Narrated by: Christopher Solimene

Published: November 20, 2018

Publisher: W. W. Norton and Company

Non-Fiction

Format: Audiobook through library

This is the 2019 All Iowa Reads book for the year. It’s also the choice for the Nebraska One Book One Nebraska for the Iowa and Nebraska Library Associations. Libraries all over both states will have copies of this book and several copies are available on the Overdrive/Libby system for audiobook or ebook versions. I grew up on a small farm and am surrounded by farmers in the small town we live in. Supporting farmers and understanding their sacrifices is important to me.


The family farm lies at the heart of our national identity, and yet its future is in peril. Rick Hammond grew up on a farm, and for forty years he has raised cattle and crops on his wife’s fifth-generation homestead in Nebraska, in hopes of passing it on to their four children. But as the handoff nears, their family farm—and their entire way of life—are under siege on many fronts, from shifting trade policies, to encroaching pipelines, to climate change. Following the Hammonds from harvest to harvest, Ted Genoways explores the rapidly changing world of small, traditional farming operations. He creates a vivid, nuanced portrait of a radical new landscape and one family’s fight to preserve their legacy and the life they love.

REFUGEE

By: Alan Gratz

Narrated by: Michael Goldstrom, Kyla Carcia, and Assaf Cohen

Published: July 25, 2017

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Fiction/Middle-Grade Fiction

Format: Audiobook through library

I heard this mentioned on a few podcasts I listen to and I’ve seen it all over our school as well. I was able to get the audiobook through our library and I’m so glad I did. The audio has three different narrators to go with each child. It made the narration so much more personal. It’s a middle-grade novel so the writing is more simple than I’d like but the story is so compelling you can overlook it.


Three different kids.

One mission in common: ESCAPE.

Josef is a Jewish boy in 1930s Nazi Germany. With the threat of concentration camps looming, he and his family board a ship bound for the other side of the world…

Isabel is a Cuban girl in 1994. With riots and unrest plaguing her country, she and her family set out on a raft, hoping to find safety and freedom in America…

Mahmoud is a Syrian boy in 2015. With his homeland torn apart by violence and destruction, he and his family begin a long trek toward Europe…

All three young people will go on harrowing journeys in search of refuge. All will face unimaginable dangers–from drownings to bombings to betrayals. But for each of them, there is always the hope of tomorrow. And although Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud are separated by continents and decades, surprising connections will tie their stories together in the end. 

RABBIT & BEAR

Rabbit’s Bad Habits

By: Julian Gough

Illustrated by: Jim Field

Published: January 8, 2019

Publisher: Silver Dolphin Books

Fiction/Middle-Grade Fiction

Format: Hardcover

This looks like a really cute early chapter book for kids.


When Bear wakes up early from her hibernation, she decides to build a snowman. Her grumpy neighbor, Rabbit, decides to build an even better one. Rabbit & Bear: Rabbit’s Bad Habits is full of laugh-out-loud moments and chronicles the forming of an unlikely friendship. With illustrations throughout, this chapter book is perfect for middle grade readers and is sure to become a fun favorite on any kid’s bookshelf.

TAKING COVER

One Girl’s Story of Growing Up in the Iranian Revolution

By: Nioucha Homayoonfar

Published: January 8, 2019

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Non-Fiction/Biography

Format: Hardcover

This is an important story for all of us to read. We have no idea of the horrors kids faced in Iran and this personal story looks to be quite shocking.


This true story of Nioucha Homayoonfar offers a window into an at-once familiar yet foreign culture. Religion classes are mandatory at her new school. Nioucha has to cover her head and wear robes. Her cousin is captured and tortured after he is caught trying to leave the country. And yet, in midst of so much change and challenge, Nioucha is still just a girl who listens to music and idolizes pop stars. But she has to be careful when Western music is banned and she cannot be seen in public together with her new boyfriend. Will she ever get used to this new way of life?

EXPLORER ACADEMY: THE FALCON’S FEATHER

By: Trudi Trueit

Published: March 19, 2019

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Fiction/Middle-Grade Fiction

Format: Hardcover

The second in the Explorer Academy series is sure to be as exciting as the first. See my review of Trueit’s first in the series, HERE.


Cruz, Sailor, and Emmett, along with their new ally Bryndis, embark on their first globe-trotting mission aboard the ship Orion. Cruz jumps right back into school and starts using the latest technology in submersible underwater dives, but is soon reminded of the dangers of exploration when his equipment fails and he almost drowns. Determined to keep his eyes on the prize, Cruz sneaks away to try to find answers, but unknowingly lures his friends into bigger trouble. When a friend of Cruz’s mom meets an untimely end, Cruz’s luck really seems about to run out and the questions multiply. What does the message mean? Where will it lead? Who is following him? And why?

STEP UP TO THE PLATE, MARIA SINGH

By: Uma Krishnaswami

Published: May 2, 2017

Publisher: Tu Books

Fiction/Middle-Grade Fiction

Format: Hardcover

This was another purchase as part of the UMW Reading Program, a middle-grade chapter book.


Nine-year-old Maria Singh longs to play softball in the first-ever girls team forming in Yuba City, California. It’s the spring of 1945, and World War II is dragging on. Miss Newman, Maria’s teacher, is inspired by Babe Ruth and the All-American Girls League to start a girls softball team at their school. Meanwhile, Maria’s parents Papi from India and Mama from Mexico can no longer protect their children from prejudice and from the discriminatory laws of the land. When the family is on the brink of losing their farm, Maria must decide if she has what it takes to step up and find her voice in an unfair world. In this fascinating middle grade novel, award-winning author Uma Krishnaswami sheds light on a little-known chapter of American history set in a community whose families made multicultural choices before the word had been invented.

WILD BIOS: FRIDA CATLO

By: Courtney Acampora and Maggie Fischer

Illustrated by: Lindsay Dale-Scott

Published: January 8, 2019

Publisher: Silver Dolphin Books

Non-Fiction

Format: Boardbook

A cute board book that introduces babies and toddlers to important people from history, this one focusing on Frida Kahlo, the artist from Mexico. With the twist of making her a cat, kids will enjoy the silliness on the pages. Courtney Acampora also wrote THIS BOOK.


Frida Catlo was one purr-fect painter!
Meet one of history’s greatest figures in this adorable board book with an animal twist! Famous Meowxican painter Frida Catlo was a pioneer for female artists. She always painted from the heart, even in the face of health problems and personal struggles. With hilarious puns and colorful illustrations, this book brings Frida’s legacy to life for babies and parents alike!

THE STORY OF ROCK

By:Nicola Edwards

Illustrated by: Lindsey Sagar

Published: May 7, 2019

Publisher: Silver Dolphin Books

Non-Fiction

Format: Boardbook

This story of Rock and Rap are so awesome! I guarantee the parents will love reading these to their babies and toddlers! You are sure to find a favorite band or singer on the pages.


1…2…3…4! Let’s rock and roll, babies!
 From Elvis Presley to Beatlemania, from Janis Joplin to David Bowie—rock has transformed through generations while ringing true with passionate sound. Rock along with the greats in this delightful baby book that introduces little ones to the rockers that started it all!
Parental Advisory: May cause toddlers to play the air guitar with adorable frequency.

THE STORY OF RAP

By: Nicola Edwards

Illustrated by: Lindsey Sagar

Published: May 7, 2019

Publisher: Silver Dolphin Books

Non-Fiction

Format: Board Book


Lay down a baby beat and learn all about the history of rap!
 From Grandmaster Flash to Kendrick Lamar, rap has shaped generations and brought a voice to the voiceless. Bop along with the greats in this adorable baby book that introduces little ones to the rappers that started it all!
Parental Advisory: May cause toddlers to develop excessive amounts of swagger.

TURKEY’S EGGCELLENT EASTER

By: Wendi Silvano

Illustrated by: Lee Harper

Published: January 29, 2019

Publisher: Two Lions

Fiction/Picture Book

Format: Hardcover

Who thinks about a turkey at Easter? Kids will love this silly story of barnyard animals getting their chance at the Easter egg hunt.


Easter is almost here—and Turkey knows just how to celebrate. He’s going to win the eggstra-special Easter egg hunt! The only problem is that animals aren’t allowed to enter. So he and his barnyard friends come up with a top-secret plan. With his trademark disguises and a whole lot of help, Turkey goes undercover. Will his basket of tricks help him win a prize?

THE SONG OF SPRING

By: Hendrik Jonas

Published: March 19, 2019

Publisher: Prestel Publishing

Fiction

Format: Hardcover

After the awful winter we have been having, this book even gave me hope that Spring is coming. Cute Story and adorable pictures make this a sweet book to give at Easter or any time.


It’s spring and everywhere birds are calling out to each other. But one bird has forgotten which sound to make. He tries “Woof,” and meets a dog, who encourages him to try “Oink,” with the expected result. Moo, Hee-Haw, Baa, Meow–each successive call adds another animal friend to the page. Will the young bird find another bird friend? As young readers are introduced to each type of animal and their sounds, Hendrik Jonas’ clever illustrations grow increasingly crowded. The result is a beautiful celebration of friendship that will delight young children everywhere.

CAT AND MOUSE

By: Britta Teckentrup

Published: March 19, 2019

Publisher: Prestel Publishing

Fiction

Format: Hardcover

I’m already a Britta Teckentrup fan and this book is no exception. With cutouts, an adorable mouse to find on the page, and a preying cat kids will love this one.


The perfect place for a mouse is inside a cozy, warm house, but a cat lives there too, and once the cat sees the mouse, a chase ensues. As the cat and mouse scurry about–on top of a chair, inside a box, outside a window, through a hole–young readers will learn about important prepositions that help them understand where one object is in relation to another. At the end of this colorful chase, the cat and mouse curl up together and nap until they’re ready to start the whole thing again. Britta Teckentrup’s eye-catching, simple illustrations are cleverly enhanced with cut-outs that help reinforce the words, providing a unique and fun interactive experience that teaches young readers about basic prepositions. 

NEW YORK DAY AND NIGHT

By: Aurelie Pollet and Vincent Bergier

Published: March 19, 2019

Publisher: Prestel Junior

Non-Fiction/Picture Book

Format: Hardcover

This is a really cool book. With glossy pages, kids get one view of New York City and then turning the glossy overlay page, shows kids a different view of NYC. If you plan to visit the city with your kids, pick up this book!


Sometimes your eyes can play tricks on you, especially in the dark. This enchanting picture book shows how New York City can look quite peculiar at night. Each brightly colored spread is overlaid with a sheet of translucent blue paper and when lifted, voilà! A space ship and Martian become The Guggenheim, a giant serpent is actually the subway, King Kong’s jungle turns into Central Park, and a superhero takes on the shape of a construction worker. Exhilarating and captivating, all the scenes are easily switched between day and night and will take the reader on a unique journey that lets imaginations run wild while revealing that some things at night aren’t as scary as they seem.

MAKE THIS!

Building, Thinking, and Tinkering Projects for the Amazing Maker in You

By: Ella Schwartz

Published: February 5, 2019

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Non-Fiction

Format: Paperback

These National Geographic books never disappoint. It would make a great gift for your STEM interested child or a teacher’s classroom.


This book is designed to inspire the next generation of engineers and supports all kinds of kid creators: those who prefer guided instruction, those who prefer to dream up and design objects on their own, and everyone in between. With thoughtful text and bright illustrations, kids get the tools and the know-how to tackle all kinds of exciting projects: building a kaleidoscope, designing a fidget spinner, planting a rain forest, creating a musical instrument, and more. Unconventional scenarios inspired by real National Geographic explorers give kids a chance to think outside the box and apply their maker skills to real life. Chapters are divided up by scientific principle, such as simple machines, energy, and forces. In each chapter, kids can start by following step-by-step activities, or get creative by tackling an open-ended challenge. Helpful sidebars explain the science behind what’s happening every step of the way.

THE PEACE DRAGON

By: Linda Ragsdale

Illustrated by: Marco Furlotti

Published: September 12, 2018

Publisher: Flowerpot PR

Fiction/Picture Book

Format: Hardcover

I’ve reviewed two of Ragdale’s other books, HERE and enjoyed them. Her story of love and peace features a boy named Sherwyn which I love since I have an Uncle Sherwin.


Sometimes things aren’t always what they seem… sometimes they are better. When a young explorer comes upon a dragon he quickly learns he shouldn’t jump to conclusions. This is no ordinary dragon. This is a Peace Dragon and she is spreading a message of peace the whole world should hear. Join them in this journey that teaches about love and trust and the importance of embracing others for who they are, not how they appear.

WAKE UP, COLOR PUP

By: Taia Morley

Illustrated by:

Published: March 12, 2019

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

Fiction/Picture Book

Format: Hardcover

A cute early picture book that shows a dog’s day in colors.

A bright yellow bird promises to bring adventure to sleepy Pup’s gray world. As Pup follows his new friend on a walk, each discovery ignites a new feeling and corresponding color, until Pup is saturated with them. But when a storm comes, Pup’s color is drained as fear sweeps through him. Only his curious yellow friend remains bright, and encourages him to keep his chin up, play, and carry on!

This is a remarkably simple and resonant examination of exploration and resilience, and introduces the idea of abstract association.

To see all the posts featuring new books on my shelves, click HERE.

So many books, so little time!

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