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

Above the Bay of Angels by Rhys Bowen

If you read me, you know I love Rhys Bowen and her mystery series, especially the Royal Spyness books. Every now and then Ms. Bowen writes a stand along historical fiction novel and Above the Bay of Angels was one. This was a compelling story, following the journey of a young woman who is cook to the Royal Family during Queen Victoria’s time. It was just the book for me to read when I came home from work tired and cranky and just wanted to escape into another time and place. Ms. Bowen never seems to run out of wonderful ideas for novels and her writing is always even-paced and well-edited. The description paints it like a Sherlock Holmes but it didn’t feel that way to me. I found it an interesting glimpse into life in the 1800’s of someone who was “in service”, even if she faked her way into the job!

Thank you for my ARC through Net Galley! This book publishes 2/11/20.

Description

A single twist of fate puts a servant girl to work in Queen Victoria’s royal kitchen, setting off a suspenseful, historical mystery by the New York Times bestselling author of The Tuscan Child and The Victory Garden.

A single twist of fate puts a servant girl to work in Queen Victoria’s royal kitchen, setting off a suspenseful, historical mystery by the New York Times bestselling author of The Tuscan Child and The Victory Garden.

Arriving as Helen Barton from Yorkshire, she pursues her passion for creating culinary delights, served to the delighted Queen Victoria herself. Best of all, she’s been chosen to accompany the queen to Nice. What fortune! Until the threat of blackmail shadows Bella to the Riviera, and a member of the queen’s retinue falls ill and dies.

Having prepared the royal guest’s last meal, Bella is suspected of the poisonous crime. An investigation is sure to follow. Her charade will be over. And her new life will come crashing down—if it doesn’t send her to the gallows.

For My Ears: The Dutch House by Ann Patchett and read by Tom Hanks

From the New York Times best-selling author of Commonwealth and State of Wonder comes Ann Patchett’s most powerful novel to date: a richly moving story that explores the indelible bond between two siblings, the house of their childhood, and a past that will not let them go. The Dutch House is the story of a paradise lost, a tour de force that digs deeply into questions of inheritance, love, and forgiveness, of how we want to see ourselves, and of who we really are.

At the end of the Second World War, Cyril Conroy combines luck and a single canny investment to begin an enormous real estate empire, propelling his family from poverty to enormous wealth. His first order of business is to buy the Dutch House, a lavish estate in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia. Meant as a surprise for his wife, the house sets in motion the undoing of everyone he loves.

The story is told by Cyril’s son Danny, as he and his older sister, the brilliantly acerbic and self-assured Maeve, are exiled from the house where they grew up by their stepmother. The two wealthy siblings are thrown back into the poverty their parents had escaped from and find that all they have to count on is one another. It is this unshakable bond between them that both saves their lives and thwarts their futures.

Set over the course of five decades, The Dutch House is a dark fairy tale about two smart people who cannot overcome their past. Despite every outward sign of success, Danny and Maeve are only truly comfortable when they’re together. Throughout their lives, they return to the well-worn story of what they’ve lost with humor and rage. But when at last they’re forced to confront the people who left them behind, the relationship between an indulged brother and his ever-protective sister is finally tested.

Oh my goodness – I LOVED this story! And having Tom Hanks in the car with me every day only made it EVEN BETTER!

Now, full disclosure, so many people were reading this novel and raving about it last year that I made a mental note to stay far away. I rarely like what everyone else likes, so I figured I’d be wasting my money. However, when I read the synopsis, it sounded intriguing, so I spent an Audible credit on it in advance of our holiday traveling.

I just loved this story and the relationship between Maeve and Danny, who love each other as only two siblings can. I loved the humorous “voice” of the narrative, which was superbly captured by Tom Hanks (award-worthy in my opinion). I loved the themes of coming of age and also of forgiveness and redemption.

This was my first Ann Patchett but it won’t be my last!

Highly recommended!