The Brave by James Bird

I absolutely loved this kids’ story about a boy with OCD tendencies who connects with his Native American heritage and befriends the unique girl next door.

Here’s the overview:

Description

Perfect for fans of Rain Reign, this middle-grade novel The Brave is about a boy with an OCD issue and his move to a reservation to live with his biological mother.

Collin can’t help himself—he has a unique condition that finds him counting every letter spoken to him. It’s a quirk that makes him a prime target for bullies, and a continual frustration to the adults around him, including his father.

When Collin asked to leave yet another school, his dad decides to send him to live in Minnesota with the mother he’s never met. She is Ojibwe, and lives on a reservation. Collin arrives in Duluth with his loyal dog, Seven, and quickly finds his mom and his new home to be warm, welcoming, and accepting of his condition.

Collin’s quirk is matched by that of his neighbor, Orenda, a girl who lives mostly in her treehouse and believes she is turning into a butterfly. With Orenda’s help, Collin works hard to overcome his challenges. His real test comes when he must step up for his new friend and trust his new family.

This novel is marketed as a “middle grade” book, which to me means grades 4-8. I’d aim this book for Middle School as it has some serious themes in it: parental rejection, divorce, death, mental health, etc. In a way it reminded me of one of my favorite books for kids: Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson.

This was such a touching and honest read, and I couldn’t help but love Collin and Orenda. The ending made me cry. This is one that is definitely going on our MS Summer Choices for next year!

Thank you for my e-copy via Net Galley!

Here’s a bit on James Bird – an author who is new to me:

Biography

James bird is a Native American author from the Ojibwe tribe. He was born and raised in Southern California and began his writing career penning screenplays and directing films (Eat Spirit Eat, From Above, Honeyglue, We Are Boats). He met his wife, New York Times Bestselling Author Adriana Mather at a nightclub in Hollywood and together they moved to the east coast, where they both write books, rescue animals, and raise their son, Wolf. His favorite food is rice crispy treats and his favorite color is green. His goals in life are to be a great dad, one day open a vegan diner, and write enough books to fill up a bookshelf.

Harlequin Blog Tour for The Black Swan of Paris by Karen Robards

I’m thrilled to be part of the Harlequin Summer Reads blog tour for The Black Swan of Paris by Karen Robards. This was a riveting read of WWII Resistance, centering on two main characters, mother and daughter Lillian and Genevieve. Living in France, both of them were pulled into anti-Nazi activities, risking and often losing much of what they held dear. I couldn’t put it down! Ms. Robards is a new author to me, but I loved her writing and will look for her other novels.

Here’s the overview:

For fans of The Alice Network and The Lost Girls of Paris comes a thrilling standalone by New York Times bestselling author Karen Robards about a celebrated singer in WWII occupied France who joins the Resistance to save her estranged family from being killed in a German prison.

In Occupied France, the Resistance trembles on the brink of destruction. Its operatives, its secrets, its plans, all will be revealed. One of its leaders, wealthy aristocrat Baron Paul de Rocheford, has been killed in a raid and the surviving members of his cell, including his wife the elegant Baronness Lillian de Rocheford, have been arrested and transported to Germany for interrogation and, inevitably, execution.

Captain Max Ryan, British SOE, is given the job of penetrating the impregnable German prison where the Baroness and the remnants of the cell are being held and tortured. If they can’t be rescued he must kill them before they can give up their secrets.

Max is in Paris, currently living under a cover identity as a show business impresario whose star attraction is Genevieve Dumont. Young, beautiful Genevieve is the toast of Europe, an icon of the glittering entertainment world that the Nazis celebrate so that the arts can be seen to be thriving in the occupied territories under their rule.

What no one knows about Genevieve is that she is Lillian and Paul de Rocheford’s younger daughter. Her feelings toward her family are bitter since they were estranged twelve years ago. But when she finds out from Max just what his new assignment entails, old, long-buried feelings are rekindled and she knows that no matter what she can’t allow her mother to be killed, not by the Nazis and not by Max. She secretly establishes contact with those in the Resistance who can help her. Through them she is able to contact her sister Emmy, and the sisters put aside their estrangement to work together to rescue their mother.

It all hinges on a command performance that Genevieve is to give for a Gestapo General in the Bavarian town where her mother and the others are imprisoned. While Genevieve sings and the show goes on, a daring rescue is underway that involves terrible danger, heartbreaking choices, and the realization that some ties, like the love between a mother and her daughters and between sisters, are forever.

BIO: 

Karen Robards is the New York Times, USA TODAY and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of more than fifty novels and one novella. She is the winner of six Silver Pen awards and numerous other awards.

SOCIAL:

Author Website: http://karenrobards.com/

TWITTER: @TheKarenRobards

FB: @AuthorKarenRobards

Thank you for my ARC and for making me part of the tour!

Buy links provided by Harlequin and not affiliated with BBNB:

BUY LINKS:

Harlequin 

Indiebound

Amazon

Barnes & Noble 

Books-A-Million

Target

Walmart

Google

iBooks

Kobo

B.A.Paris’ THE DILEMMA

I’m happy to finally be able to share a great summer read by one of my fave authors: B.A. Paris’ The Dilemma. I received this book months ago from St. Martin’s Press via Net Galley. (thank you!!).

In this novel, two people are keeping secrets in order to keep others blindly happy, but their worlds are about to come tumbling down. Don’t want to say more and give anything away!

This story was a bit different from B.A. Paris’ last ones. I loved the suspense of her earlier works and the intensity. This is more a story with psychological suspense, but it’s heart-breaking, and it touches on the base elements of family life and relationships. I really liked it and read it in one evening because I couldn’t put it down.

(via Amazon)

Knowing the truth will destroy her. Keeping it secret will destroy him.

It’s Livia’s 40th birthday, and her husband Adam is throwing her the party of a lifetime to make up for the wedding they never had. Everyone she loves will be there, except her daughter Marnie, who’s studying abroad. But Livia is secretly glad Marnie won’t be there.

Livia has recently uncovered a secret about their daughter which, if revealed, will shake the foundation of their family to its core. She needs to tell Adam, but she’s waiting until the party is over so they can have this last happy time together.

Adam, meanwhile, has his own surprise for Livia: he’s arranged for Marnie to secretly fly back for the party. But before Marnie arrives, Adam hears some terrible news. Now he too is faced with a dilemma: Does he share what he’s learned with his wife? Is hiding the truth the same as telling a lie? And how far are Adam and Livia willing to go to protect the ones they love―and give each other a last few hours of happiness?

This book published today – June 30, 2020. It’s a great summer read!

Harlequin Summer Reads Tour for Stranger in the Lake by Kimberly Belle

I’m thrilled to take part in the Harlequin Summer Reads tour with Stranger in the Lake by Kimberly Belle. This was a suspenseful read and just perfect for the summer!

Here’s the overview:


When Charlotte married the wealthy widower Paul, it caused a ripple of gossip in their small lakeside town. They have a charmed life together, despite the cruel whispers about her humble past and his first marriage. But everything starts to unravel when she discovers a young
woman’s body floating in the exact same spot where Paul’s first wife tragically drowned.
At first, it seems like a horrific coincidence, but the stranger in the lake is no stranger. Charlotte saw Paul talking to her the day before, even though Paul tells the police he’s never met the woman. His lie exposes cracks in their fragile new marriage, cracks Charlotte is determined to keep from breaking them in two.
As Charlotte uncovers dark mysteries about the man she married, she doesn’t know what to trust—her heart, which knows Paul to be a good man, or her growing suspicion that there’s something he’s hiding in the water.

***********************************

Me again! If you follow me, you know I love a good, suspenseful read and I’m always particularly excited if I don’t “figure it all out” in the first half of the book! I did not figure this one out early and I enjoyed Ms. Belle’s writing, pacing, and plot-line.

Highly recommended for a fast, suspenseful read that is great for poolside!

Thank you for my review copy and for making me part of the tour!

About the Author:
Kimberly Belle is the USA Today and internationally bestselling author of six novels, including the forthcoming Stranger in the Lake (June 2020). Her third novel, The Marriage Lie, was a semifinalist in the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Mystery & Thriller, and a #1 e-book
bestseller in the UK and Italy. She’s sold rights to her books in a dozen languages as well as film and television options. A graduate of Agnes Scott College, Belle divides her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam.

From the Tour (please note that purchasing links are NOT affiliated with BBNB but have been sent from Harlequin):

Social Links:
Author website: https://www.kimberlybellebooks.com/
Facebook: @KimberlyBelleBooks
Twitter: @KimberlySBelle
Instagram: @kimberlysbelle
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/kimberlybelle

Buy Links:
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07WNX6ZZS
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/stranger-in-the-lake-kimberly-
belle/1133065677
Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/books/stranger-in-the-lake-original/9780778309819?aid=0
IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780778309819
Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Stranger-Lake/Kimberly-
Belle/9780778309819
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/stranger-in-the-lake
AppleBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/stranger-in-the-lake/id1477319023

Harlequin Summer Reads Blog Tour for Red Sky over Hawaii by Sarah Ackerman

I’m thrilled to take part in Harlequin’s Summer Reads Blog Tour today, dishing about Red Sky over Hawaii by Sarah Ackerman! This was a compelling story – WWII historical fiction/romance – that takes place in Hawai’i. If you know me, you know I love the Hawai’ian Islands and there were so many places that featured in the story where I had been, it made my connection to the novel even stronger.

Here’s the description:

ABOUT THE BOOK:

For fans of Chanel Cleeton and Beatriz Williams, RED SKY OVER HAWAII is historical women’s fiction set in the islands during WWII. It’s the story of a woman who has to put her safety and her heart on the line when she becomes the unexpected guardian of a misfit group and decides to hide with them in a secret home in the forest on Kilauea Volcano.

The attack on Pearl Harbor changes everything for Lana Hitchcock. Arriving home on the Big Island too late to reconcile with her estranged father, all she can do is untangle the clues of his legacy, which lead to a secret property in the forest on Kilauea Volcano. America has been drawn into WWII, and amid rumors of impending invasion, the army places the islands under martial law. When they start taking away neighbors as possible sympathizers, Lana finds herself suddenly guardian to two girls, as well as accomplice to an old family friend who is Japanese, along with his son. In a heartbeat, she makes the decision to go into hiding with them all.

The hideaway house is not what Lana expected, revealing its secrets slowly, and things become even more complicated by the interest of Major Grant Bailey, a soldier from the nearby internment camp. Lana is drawn to him, too, but needs to protect her little group. With a little help from the magic on the volcano, Lana finds she can open her bruised heart to the children–and maybe to Grant.

A lush and evocative novel about doing what is right against the odds, following your heart, and what makes a family.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Sara Ackerman is the USA Today bestselling author of The Lieutenant’s Nurse and Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers. Born and raised in Hawaii, she studied journalism and earned graduate degrees in psychology and Chinese medicine. She blames Hawaii for her addiction to writing, and sees no end to its untapped stories. When she’s not writing or teaching, you’ll find her in the mountains or in the ocean. She currently lives on the Big Island with her boyfriend and a houseful of bossy animals. Find out more about Sara and her books at http://www.ackermanbooks.com and follow her on Instagram @saraackermanbooks and on FB @ackermanbooks.

While I could have had a bit more suspense and less romance, overall this was a great read. I’d love to read more of Ms. Ackerman’s novels. They are well-plotted and paced.

Thank you for making me part of the tour and for my ARC, and for letting me have a little “visit to the Islands”!

The List of Things that Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead


I absolutely loved this story about young Bea and her changing family situation. Bea is in fifth grade and her parents have divorced (which she is still fully adjusting to) and her father is going to remarry. This is a huge shift for her. She will now have two dads, and a new step sister (she always wanted a sister) who lives in CA. That’s a lot of change and Bea, with her anxiety and her eczema, is keeping her list to give her some sense of steadiness. Add in some issues at school and you’ve got a touching and realistic novel.

I adore Rececca Stead’s writing and often recommend it for my students. She treated the topics in this book so sensitively yet honestly that I can imagine that many readers will be touched by Bea’s story, like I was.

Thank you, Net Galley and Wendy Lamb Books, for my copy!

Description

EIGHT STARRED REVIEWS! The reassuring book kids and families need right now.

“An absolute original . . . a story that kids will love.” –R. J. Palacio, bestselling author of Wonder

At a time when everything is changing for Bea and her family, the important things will always stay the same. A soon-to-be classic by the Newbery Award-winning author of When You Reach Me.

After her parents’ divorce, Bea’s life became different in many ways. But she can always look back at the list she keeps in her green notebook to remember the things that will stay the same. The first and most important: Mom and Dad will always love Bea, and each other.

When Dad tells Bea that he and his boyfriend, Jesse, are getting married, Bea is thrilled. Bea loves Jesse, and when he and Dad get married, she’ll finally (finally!) have what she’s always wanted–a sister. Even though she’s never met Jesse’s daughter, Sonia, Bea is sure that they’ll be “just like sisters anywhere.”

As the wedding day approaches, Bea will learn that making a new family brings questions, surprises, and joy, and readers will discover why the New York Times called Rebecca Stead a “writer of great feeling.”

Harlequin Blog Tour for Truths I Never Told You by Kelly Rimmer

I’m thrilled to be part of the Harlequin blog tour for the new novel by Kelly Rimmer: Truths I Never Told You.

Here’s the overview:

ABOUT THE BOOK:

After finding disturbing journal pages that suggest her late mother didn’t die in a car accident as her father had always maintained, Beth Walsh begins a search for answers to the question — what really happened to their mother? With the power and relevance of Jodi Picoult and Lisa Jewell, Rimmer pens a provocative novel told by two women a generation apart, the struggles they unwittingly shared, and a family mystery that may unravel everything they believed to be true.

With her father recently moved to a care facility because of worsening signs of dementia, Beth Walsh volunteers to clear out the family home to prepare it for sale. Why shouldn’t she be the one, after all? Her three siblings are all busy with their families and successful careers, and Beth is on maternity leave after giving birth to Noah, their miracle baby. It took her and her husband Hunter years to get pregnant, but now that they have Noah, Beth can only feel panic. And leaving Noah with her in-laws while she pokes about in their father’s house gives her a perfect excuse not to have to deal with motherhood.

Beth is surprised to discover the door to their old attic playroom padlocked, and even more shocked to see what’s behind it – a hoarder’s mess of her father’s paintings, mounds of discarded papers, and miscellaneous junk. Her father was the most fastidious, everything-in-its-place man, and this chaos makes no sense. As she picks through the clutter, she finds a handwritten note attached to one of the paintings, in what appears to be in her late mother’s handwriting. Beth and her siblings grew up believing Grace Walsh died in a car accident when they were little more than toddlers, but this note suggests something much darker may be true. A frantic search uncovers more notes, seemingly a series of loose journal entries that paint a very disturbing portrait of a woman in profound distress, and of a husband that bears very little resemblance to the father Beth and her siblings know.

A fast-paced, harrowing look at the fault in memories and the lies that can bond families together – or tear them apart.

*******************************************

I really enjoyed this book and found the glimpse into post-partum depression very interesting. Personally, this was not part of my experience and what the author portrays through both the protagonist and her mother just made me so sympathetic for those who go through this.

There is a whole theme in this book that is about women’s reproductive rights and choices with their bodies and I think it would make for a good though possibly heated book club discussion, depending on your own thoughts and beliefs. Regardless, Grace’s story will stay with you long after you finish reading and I kept thinking about these characters after the novel was done.

Thank you for making me part of the tour, Harlequin, and for my e-copy through Net Galley. I look forward to reading more novels by this incredible author!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kelly Rimmer is the worldwide and USA TODAY bestselling author of Before I Let You Go, Me Without You, and The Secret Daughter. She lives in rural Australia with her husband, two children and fantastically naughty dogs, Sully and Basil. Her novels have been translated into more than twenty languages. Please visit her at www.Kelly.Rimmer.com 

SOCIAL LINKS:
Facebook: @Kellymrimmer

Twitter: @KelRimmerWrites

Instagram: @kelrimmerwrites

BUY LINKS: provided by the tour and not affiliate links for BBNB

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Truths-I-Never-ToldYou/dp/152580460X/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1573152440&sr=8-1

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781525804601

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/truths-i-never-told-you-kelly-rimmer/1132362557?ean=9781525804601

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/truths-i-never-told-you/id1460246211

Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Truths-Never-Told/KellyRimmer/9781525804601?id=7731552460675

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=x1-TDwAAQBAJ

A Sparrow Alone by Mim Eichmann

Recently, Mim Eichmann reached out to me about her book (the first in a series) and it sounded to intriguing that I could not say no!

Here’s the overview:

1890s. Colorado. Following her mother’s sudden death, thirteen-year-old Hannah Owens is hired as domestic help by a wealthy doctor’s family in Colorado Springs. When the doctor declares bankruptcy and abandons his family to finance his mistress Pearl DeVere’s brothel, Hannah is thrown into a world of gold mining bonanzas and busts, rampant prostitution and the economic, political and cultural upheavals of the era. Two of Cripple Creek’s most colorful historic characters, Winfield Scott Stratton, eccentric owner of the richest gold mine in Cripple Creek, and Pearl DeVere, the beautiful madam of The Old Homestead come to life as this old-fashioned, coming-of-age saga unfolds, a tribute to the women who set the stage for women’s rights.

This was a wonderfully written historical fiction piece, brimming with action, romance, and some violence, with a cast of actual and created characters. The main character Hannah Owens is one that I definitely felt a connection with, and Hannah has many ups and downs in this story (I don’t want to give them away but many center on family, work, love, and finances). Every time I thought she was set, something would befall her and she’d have to start over. She was a courageous and strong character and her story will remain with me. Hannah’s adventures continue in the next novel. I was also fascinated by the character of Pearl and so surprised to realize that she is based in fact.

Thank you, Ms. Eichmann, for sending me a mobi of your book and for sharing Hannah’s story with us!

This book publishes on 4/15/20. Right now it is $2.99 on kindle.

Like Nothing Amazing Ever Happened by Emily Blejwas

A poignant story of a boy picking up the pieces of his life after the unexpected death of his father, and the loyalty, concern, and friendship he finds in his small-town community.

Justin doesn’t know anything these days. Like how to walk down the halls without getting stared at. Or what to say to Jenni. Or how Phuc is already a physics genius in seventh grade. Or why Benny H. wanders around Wicapi talking to old ghosts. He doesn’t know why his mom suddenly loves church or if his older brother, Murphy, will ever play baseball again. Or if the North Stars have a shot at the playoffs. Justin doesn’t know how people can act like everything’s fine when it’s so obviously not. And most of all, he doesn’t know what really happened the night his dad died on the train tracks. And that sucks.

But life goes on. And as it does, Justin discovers that some things are just unknowable. He learns that time and space and memory are grander and weirder than he ever thought, and that small moments can hold big things, if you’re paying attention. Just like his math teacher said, even when you think you have all the information, there will be more. There is always more.

Set during the Gulf War era, Like Nothing Amazing Ever Happened is a story about learning to go on after loss, told with a warmth that could thaw the coldest Minnesota lake.

I loved this heart-warming and touching story about a boy who’s learning to adjust to a very different life. It is touching and real and a great novel to share with middle grade and middle school readers. I got my ARC via Net Galley way back in September (thank you, Delacorte/Random House!) and have been waiting and waiting until almost Pub Day to share with you all! I think any time a child has to deal with the death of a parent it uproots their entire world. And Justin’s process of grieving and learning to live a life without his father is beautifully and sensitively portrayed in this book.

Highly recommended! One for the classroom IMHO.

The Girls with No Names by Serena Burdick

Years ago I watched a movie on a flight to Paris. It was “The Magdalene Sisters” and it was about three girls who lived and worked in a laundry run by nuns in Ireland. It was absolutely terrifying and horrific and based on the real Magdalene laundries of the mid-1900’s. In The Girls with No Names, the main character, Effie, gets herself put into one of these places as she seeks to find her sister who has run away. Effie also has a heart condition, which makes her situation all the worse. This story takes place in New York City around 1910, and apparently there really were Magdalene-type laundries here at that time.

All in all it was a heart-breaking read that told the sad story of a marriage gone wrong, a family that was destroyed, and the lasting effect of betrayal. But I couldn’t put it down until the last fulfilling page.

Thank you for my review copy through Net Galley, Harlequin Books!

Here’s the overview:

Description

INSTANT INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER

A beautiful tale of hope, courage, and sisterhood—inspired by the real House of Mercy and the girls confined there for daring to break the rules.

Growing up in New York City in the 1910s, Luella and Effie Tildon realize that even as wealthy young women, their freedoms come with limits. But when the sisters discover a shocking secret about their father, Luella, the brazen elder sister, becomes emboldened to do as she pleases. Her rebellion comes with consequences, and one morning Luella is mysteriously gone.

Effie suspects her father has sent Luella to the House of Mercy and hatches a plan to get herself committed to save her sister. But she made a miscalculation, and with no one to believe her story, Effie’s own escape seems impossible—unless she can trust an enigmatic girl named Mable. As their fates entwine, Mable and Effie must rely on their tenuous friendship to survive.

Home for Unwanted Girls meets The Dollhouse in this atmospheric, heartwarming story that explores not only the historical House of Mercy, but the lives—and secrets—of the girls who stayed there.

“Burdick has spun a cautionary tale of struggle and survival, love and family — and above all, the strength of the heart, no matter how broken.” — New York Times Book Review

“Burdick reveals the perils of being a woman in 1913 and exposes the truths of their varying social circles.” — Chicago Tribune