Saturday, April 20, 2019

PLAGUE by Gregg Luke

PLAGUE by Gregg Luke. Wow. What a fantastic, fascinating, incredible read. I was enthralled from the first chapter to the end. The pages kept turning themselves. About a quarter to midway through the book I realized that the story covered an incredible amount of scientific information that I wouldn't normally read about. Yet, I was hooked in this book. It was so well presented that I didn't feel like I was being lectured. I discovered it the same and some of the characters, and it was done in a way that was entertaining. I've had thought about everything covered in this book and the probability of something similar happening for days. I LOVE books that make me think on a whole different level. And the cover is amazing. My kids loved it, especially because some of it was raised and they could feel it. They have been asking me about it since they laid their eyes on it. (Although I have very young children and the whole novel would be way over their heads. They will appreciate the words someday.) I would highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone. For me, this is one of my favorite books this year. 

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Centuries ago, the Black Death shadowed the world, claiming the lives of tens of millions. Now the world is on the brink of another scourge—and this time, it will be an extinction-level event. . . .
Professor Mitch Pine knows all too well the history of epidemics, so the startling new information he's discovered has him racing to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. Mitch has uncovered a startling pattern: dramatic environmental changes always occurred prior to devastating outbreaks, and current climate change may be such a catalyst. But before his plane lands, Mitch's journey takes a terrifying turn. He is intercepted by a woman who represents a dangerous faction whose interest in Mitch's research opposes his mission to save lives. To secure Mitch's cooperation, his research assistant is being held hostage. With so many lives on the line, Mitch embarks on a turbulent trip around the world, uncovering pieces of the puzzle until he ultimately holds the key to prevent—or precipitate—global devastation. Unless he can find a way to stop the lunatics behind his abduction, a plaque the likes of which the world has never known will be unleashed.

Monday, April 8, 2019


WIZARD FOR HIRE: APPRENTICE NEEDED by Obert Skye. This is a great addition to the WIZARD FOR HIRE series, see my review here. Throughout the entire first book and most of this book I found myself going back and forth on whether or not I believed Rin was a real wizard. Everything was so masterfully done that I'm still debating. I loved the continuing adventure Ozzy, Sigi, and Clark are on. And the bombshell that is dropped 3/4 of the way through the book is fantastic! This is a series that just keeps getting better and better. I can't wait for the next one to come out. I would highly recommend this book to any and everyone of all ages.

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Ozzy Toffy's adventure, which began in Wizard for Hire, continues when one dark and windy night, he gets out of bed, jumps out his window, and walks straight into the ocean.
More than ever, Ozzy could really use the services of Rin, the wizard he hired to help find his parents—but Rin is missing, despite Ozzy's continual attempts to contact him. And Clark, the mechanical bird his father left him, is as peculiar and vain as ever.
When a mysterious package arrives, Ozzy and his good friend Sigi are sure that the plane ticket and thumb drive they find inside are from Rin. Trying to get Clark through security at the airport proves complicated—as most things are with Clark. But when they arrive in New York, they discover there's even more adventure in store for them.
Will Rin return and save the day? Will Ozzy figure out why he keeps walking into the ocean? Can Sigi find a way to trust her delinquent father? Will someone please appreciate Clark the way he'd like to be appreciated? For once? Wizard for Hire: Apprentice Needed is a story filled with humor and excitement that shows us the magic in everyday things.

Friday, April 5, 2019


MISS ADELINE'S MATCH by Joanna Barker. I love this cover. I would have picked up the book just for that. The story was equal to the cover and did not disappoint. Miss Adeline was a perfect companion. I loved how she did everything she thought was best for Charity with the best of intentions. Isn't that we all do? And doesn't it feel like those best intentions sometimes blow up in our faces? I was very impressed with how she handled each situation she was in and accepted the consequences of her actions with dignity. The ending was perfect. I would recommend this to anyone who loves to see how someone gets through a sticky mess of their own creation while in the midst of trying not to fall in love.

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Miss Adeline Hayes is the perfect lady's companion: pleasant, conversational, and unceasingly proper. But when her closest friend, Charity Edgeworth, breaks off her arranged marriage without explanation, even Adeline's superior skills are put to the test. Charity's father banishes the two young women to the country, sending Adeline with a charge to find Charity a husband—or suffer dire consequences. As Adeline takes on the role of reluctant matchmaker, she discovers more than one obstacle in her path. Not only does Charity prefer escaping in books to socializing, but Adeline soon finds her own attentions distracted by the standoffish—and irritatingly handsome—Mr. Evan Whitfield. Amidst an eventful foxhunt and the unexpected arrival of Charity's former betrothed, Adeline simply doesn't have time for a battle of wits with Evan. But the two are continually drawn together until Adeline begins to question her tightly guarded convictions about love and marriage.
However, when secrets are revealed and truths made known, Adeline must face her most fearsome obstacle yet: herself.

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Wednesday, April 3, 2019


A SONG FOR THE STARS by Ilima Todd. What a fabulous story. I love books that create a desire to read anything the author has written. This story was engaging from beginning to end. It covers an area in the 18th century that is not commonly written of. Hawaiian history is amazing. I felt like I was right in the middle of everything. My heart broke when Maile's fiance was killed. Maile's turmoil about John. The difficults the island faced as well as the English sailors. Everything was woven together seamlessly. What an amazing story. Everyone should read this book. Not only is it for the romantic at heart, but the historian, the adventurer, the sailor, the navigator. It's for everyone, and I would highly recommend it to any and everyone.

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Inspired by a true story
Hawaiian Islands, 1779
As the second daughter of a royal chief, Maile will be permitted to marry for love. Her fiancĂ© is the best navigator in Hawaii, and he taught her everything he knows—how to feel the ocean, observe the winds, read the stars, and how to love.
But when sailors from a strange place called England arrive on her island, a misunderstanding ends in battle, and Maile is suddenly widowed before she is wed.
Finding herself in the middle of the battle and fearing for her life, Maile takes John Harbottle, the wounded man who killed her fiancé, prisoner, and though originally intending to let him dies, she reluctantly heals him. And in the process, she discovers the man she thought was her enemy might be her ally instead.
John has been Captain James Cook's translator for three voyages across the Pacific. He is kind and clearly fascinated with Maile's homeland and her people—and Maile herself. But guilt continues to drive a wedge between them: John's guilt over the death he caused, and Maile's guilt over the truth about what triggered the deadly battle—a secret she's kept hidden from everyone on the island.
When Maile is tasked with teaching John how to navigate using the stars so he can sail back to England, they must also navigate the challenges of being from very different cultures. In doing so, they might also find the peace that comes when two hearts become one.
John Harbottle's Journal
4 February 1779
I fear we've overstayed our welcome.
My relief when the captain orders the ships ready to depart is palpable. Our duty is to search for the Northwest Passage, after all, not indulge ourselves in the pleasures of this paradise.
Yet what a paradise it has been.
Never on our previous two voyages have the natives been more accommodating, more praising, than here in this protected bay. Even the captain, whose demeanor has been despondent of late, has emerged a new man while ashore, as though the water here is a life-giving elixir. One must only drink to become transformed-translated into a more celestial state.
The natives revere the captain as divine, much to our advantage. Even as we make preparations to leave, we are inundated with such quantities of food and gifts that we haven't the room to hold it all. But perhaps the captain has seen what some of the sailors have as well-the natives grow impatient. Suspicious. What they expect us to do or say I know not, but after a month's recovery on the island, it is past time we take our leave.
I wasn't the only one who questioned Cook's divinity. There were many relieved expressions among my people when the white men finally sailed their ships out to sea. There are only so many pigs one can hunt on an isolated island to give as gifts to the foreigners. I was beginning to worry we wouldn't have enough supplies for our own needs.
I try to see the white men as he does. As revered guests. As a blessing. But there's still a part of me waiting for the trick to reveal itself, the proof that they're really a curse in the end.
This time, I know those white clouds low on the horizon are not clouds at all, but the large white sails of James Cook's Resolution and Discovery. And this time, I know he will not be welcomed.

SEVEN AT SEA by Erik and Emily Orton

SEVEN AT SEA by Erik and Emily Orton. This book seemed like it would be a very interesting read, and at the beginning I was very intrigued and engaged. I find the reasons why people do certain things very interesting and the Orton's are no different. It takes brave people to do what they did. I took away some good ideas for my family, but I can definitely say we won't be jumping on a boat right now. After the first few chapters, I found myself skimming through the next several. What they were talking about did not hold my interest, however, I see the necessity of including it in the book. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a good memoir or how loves reading about real life adventures of others.

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A New York City family's remarkable story of how they gave up their urban life, packed up their family of seven, and braved the difficult conditions of the Atlantic Ocean as they sailed more than 2,500 from New York to and around the Caribbean.
Working the night shift as a temp in a high-rise cubicle, Erik Orton knew something had to change. He felt the responsibility of providing for his wife and their five children—the youngest with Down syndrome—but craved a life that offered more than just surviving.
Watching the sailboats on the Hudson River during his sunset dinner breaks, Erik dared to dream. What would it be like to leave the hustle of the city and instead spend a year on a sailboat, somewhere beautiful, as a family? Despite having no sailing experience, his wife Emily's phobia of deep water, and already stretching every dollar to pay rent and buy groceries, the family of seven turned their excuses into reasons and their fears into motivation. Sure, they would miss their friends, the could go broke, they could get injured or die. Worst of all, they could humiliate themselves by trying something audacious and failing. But the little time they still had together as a family, before their oldest daughter left for college, was drifting away. The Ortons cast off the life they knew to begin an uncertain journey of 5,000 miles between New York City and the Caribbean, ultimately arriving at a new place within themselves.
A portrait of a captivating and resilient family and a celebration of the courage it takes to head for something over the horizon, this is a deeply compelling story—told alternately by Erik and Emily—for all those who dream of leaving routine in their wake.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

WAITING FOR FITZ by Spencer Hyde

WAITING FOR FITZ by Spencer Hyde. Wow. What a book. It was one that I couldn't read quickly, but I couldn't put down. It was fascinating to me to learn more about mental illness and to see it from the point of view of a person struggling with it. I learned more about a phys ward and to appreciate what a true struggle it is. I loved the friendships that were created there and how Addie learned it wasn't the place but the people that mattered. It was a fascinating story that I would recommend to anyone.

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Addie loves nothing more than curling up on the couch with her dog, Duck, and watching The Great British Baking Show with her mom. It's one of the few things that can help her relax when her OCD kicks into overdrive. She counts everything. All the time. She can't stop. Rituals and rhythms. It's exhausting.
When Fitz was diagnosed with schizophrenia, he named the voices in his head after famous country singers. The adolescent psychiatric ward at Seattle Regional Hospital isn't exactly the ideal place to meet your soul mate, but when Addie meets Fitz, they immediately connect over their shared love of words, appreciate each other's quick wit, and wish they could both make more sense of their lives.
Fitz is haunted by the voices in his head and often doesn't know what is real. But he feels if he can convince Addie to help him escape the psych ward and get to San Juan Island, everything will be okay. If not, he risks falling into a downward spiral that may keep him in the hospital indefinitely.
Waiting for Fitz is a story about life and love, forgiveness and courage, and learning what is truly worth waiting for.

Monday, March 25, 2019

A MONSTER LIKE ME by Wendy S Swore

A MONSTER LIKE ME by Wendy S Swore. This was a very good read. It is a different approach to how a child dealt with bullying. At first I really like the excerpts from her Big Book of Monsters. It helped me see how Sophie's mind was working. I will admit though, by the end of the book I was skipping those excerpts. I really liked how things worked out and how she was able to find a friend to help her through things. In an author's note, she said, "This is my message to anyone who experiences bullying: Don’t let the bullies define you! I’ve been there, I know it hurts to be teased, but don’t let it stop you from doing what you want. Find something you enjoy—a hobby, talent, or challenge—and practice that skill. Know that someone out there, maybe even someone in your same school, needs a friend as much as you do. Be that friend. Stand up for each other. And know that you are not alone." I would recommend this book to any middle grader out there.

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Sophie is a monster expert. Thanks to her Big Book of Monsters and her vivid imagination, Sophie can identify the monsters in her school and neighborhood. Clearly, the bullies are trolls and goblins. Her nice neighbor must be a good witch, and Sophie's new best friend is obviously a fairy. But what about Sophie? She's convinced she is definitely a monster because of the "monster mark" on her face. At least that's what she calls it. The doctors call it a blood tumor. Sophie tries to hide it but it covers almost half her face. And if she's a monster on the outside, then she must be a monster on the inside, too.
Being the new kid at school is hard. Being called a monster is even harder. Sophie knows that it's only a matter of time before the other kids, the doctors, and even her mom figure it out. And then her mom will probably leave—just like her dad did.
Because who would want to live with a real monster?
Inspired by real events in the author's life, A Monster Like Me teaches the importance of believing in oneself, accepting change, and the power of friendship.
Ages 8 to 11, Grades 3 to 6