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Sunday, November 30, 2014

As Close as Sisters by Colleen Faulkner should be shared with your good friends. A true book about friendship.

From the book blurb: Since the age of twelve, McKenzie Arnold has spent every summer at Albany Beach, Delaware, with her best friends Aurora, Janine, and Lilly. The seaside house teems with thirty years of memories--some wonderful, others painful--and secrets never divulged beyond its walls. 

My reaction: Good friends, seaside memories, death, and dying. This is a wonderful book. Be prepared to laugh and cry as you read the stories of these four young ladies and their many years of friendship. 

On this, the summer they are all in their early forties, the ugly head of cancer seems to threaten their idyllic summers together. Will this all too familiar monster be the catalyst that ends life as they have known and loved it? 

As we get to know the four main characters we learn about their loves, heartbreaks, secrets, and hopes, and we learn of that one defining event of long ago. The women are all likable, believable characters. They not only have formed a true bond of friendship but they do the almost impossible of keeping it together through the years and from around the world.

Get ready to laugh and cry, to be thoroughly entertained by these four good friends in this well written, easy and engaging read. I know several young women the age of the characters and think they and their generation will relate easily to this story and its characters.

I won the book on goodreads and am happy to recommend it. It is available in online and in books stores in paperback, large print, and ebooks. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

OMG. True Colors is scarily realistic!

Having taught middle school for 30 years, I can say with some authority that True Colors, by Krysten Lindsay Hager is scarily realistic. The author has an uncanny memory for the middle school years. Her characters speak and act realistically. To adults their obsessions may seem banal, but to middle schoolers, their thoughts, fears, insecurities, and shifting feelings of friendships are the basis of their universe. Hager focuses on this middle school universe in such a way that one begins to wonder if she is still she a middle schooler?

The main character, Landry, wants to be one of those squealers who runs toward her friends shouting "OMG, do I have news for you" but she is not. She sees her life as BORING. Even when her life takes a positive turn, her low self-esteem continues to plague her. There are several reasons for this; overbearing friends, false friends, parents who are separated but do manage to get together and then fight, and boys. Then there are the BFF's who unfriend and refriend at the slightest perceived slight. They, too, are middle schoolers going through their own angst.

Then there's THE HAIR! Beautiful, long silky hair, but Landry does not see it that way. How often have I seen girls behaving like Landry, crying about their hair, and changing their hairstyles between classes....even in class if the teacher is distracted.

Honestly, I felt as if I were back at my middle school post watching girls who I knew would grow up to be fine, but who needed support for the moment as they came and went through my classroom and my life. My only negative concern is very petty. I think the girls acted more like the seventh graders I've known than eighth graders. Eighth graders are usually getting their act together a little more than Landry and her friends. But who knows, in the sequel, they might just reach that eighth grade level of maturity.

I was gifted this book by the author for an honest review. I can honestly recommend this book. I think middle school girls will see themselves and their friends in many of the characters.

Available at

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History

Throughout the history of man, great leaders have emerged when needed. Through many of them we see that one man can make a difference. The Churchill Factor tells of one such man in a refreshing manner. Reading about this man and his exploits could have been plodding and full of ponderous thoughts and conclusions. It is not. The book is written in such a way that the reader feels as if he/she knows and usually understands this historical figure who is still larger than life to most of us. 

In observance of the 50th anniversary of his death, this very engaging work gives us insight into the man and his place in history. For scholars, writers seeking to know more about Churchill and his impact on the world as we know it, and for those of us who are amateur historians this book deserves a place on your TBR list. Published  Oct. 23, 2014, this would make a great gift for the history buffs on your list. I highly recommend it.  

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Time for a Elementary/MG Review: KIBBLE TALK: You might want to read this before daring your best friend to eat dog food!

"I dare you to eat some dog food." How many times has a good friend or a cheeky little brother issued this dare. Too many to count, I'm sure. In Kibble Talk by Cynthia Port, the dare is issued to Tawny by her best friend Jenny who knows that Tawny will accept the challenge. Yes, she does, and things change fast and furiously. Immediately Jenny's dog begins talking to Tawny. Frightened, but keeping this horrible transformation to herself, Tawny runs home.

It is at home that the fun really begins for Tawny has a huge dog, a Great Dane with the improbable name of Dinky. Dinky becomes a major character in this story and a very colorful one. I think all kids would love a Dinky type dog in their lives. 

It is through Dinky that we learn that Tawny can really talk, or read the thoughts of dogs. Their 'conversations' lead to many adventures. In a short time Tawny learns that Dinky, large as he is, really wants to be a small, cuddly lap dog. (Is this a comment on people in general, for so many of us want to be tall if we are short, short if we are tall, etc.?)Tawny tries to help Dinky achieve his dream and along the way they win a Dog Beauty Contest but almost lose a best friend. Jenny, still in the dark about the results of her dare, now feels displaced by a DOG!  How humiliating. 

In the end, everything works out, for Tawny, Jenny, and Dinky, but not before some hilarious episodes. A lot of the fun comes from the interaction of girl and dog. I think most children would love to be in Tawny's place, at least for a little while. I know most children would love the silliness of this book. It had me laughing out loud many times.

The book is well written and easy to read. It is the first in a series. I think teachers might use this book with reluctant readers. It's funny; they like funny.The first chapter of the next book is included at the end of the book. Kibble Talk is available as paperback or Kindle book.

I received a paperback, signed copy from the author in order to review if I felt like it. I am happy to review and give it 4 1/2  stars as a delightful upper elementary /and early middle school book.  

My signed copy will soon be wrapped and given to my grandson as he turns 9 later this month. He will also laugh out loud and read aloud many passages to his parents. I think all my grandchildren, ages 5 to 11 would love this book.