Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Blue Skies: Top 10 List and Giveaway


BLUE SKIES
by
Anne Bustard

Middle Grade / Historical Fiction Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers Date of Publication: March 17, 2020
Number of Pages: 224

Scroll down for the giveaway!



Ten-year-old Glory Bea Bennett believes in miracles. After all, her grandmother—the best matchmaker in the whole county—is responsible for thirty-nine of them so far. Now, Glory Bea wants a miracle of her own—her daddy’s return. The war ended three years ago, but Glory Bea’s father never returned from the front in France. She believes Daddy is still out there. When reports that the Texas boxcar from the Merci Train—a train filled with gifts of gratitude from the people of France—will be stopping in Gladiola, Glory Bea just knows Daddy will be its surprise cargo. But miracles, like people, are always changing, until at last they find their way home.
PRAISE FOR BLUE SKIES:
“I loved Blue Skies so much I couldn’t bear for it to end.” --Patricia Reilly Giff, Newbery Honor author of Lily’s Crossing and Pictures of Hollis Woods “A heart-warming (and occasionally heart-wrenching) delight of a book . . .” --Joy Preble, Brazos Bookstore "A tender story of grief and the gentle comfort of loved ones." -- Kirkus Reviews

CLICK TO ORDER ON: ┃  Amazon  ┃  BookPeople  ┃  IndieBound ┃





Anne Bustard’s TOP TEN Favorite Foods

Yes, my list is half desserts. I love them so. And it’s no coincidence that my main character, Glory Bea, and I share a bond with my favorite food group. For me, desserts are especially delicious because I associate them with family, friends, and places. I was born and raised (mostly) in Hawaii with a few years in California. I came to Texas for college and stayed—until two years ago when I moved to Canada because of love. I had reconnected with my college boyfriend and we married. Which was and is ever so sweet.

1.     Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream
2.     Breakfast tacos
3.     Chicken and vegetables stir-fry
4.     Coconut cake made by my friend Kathleen
5.     Fried okra
6.     Gumbo
7.     Macadamia nut pie (think pecan pie with mac nuts)
8.     Pineapple Dole whip
9.     See’s Candies
10. Smoked turkey with coleslaw
  



Anne Bustard is the former co-owner of Toad Hall Children’s Bookstore in Austin, Texas, and an MFA graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is the author of the middle grade novel, Anywhere But Paradise, as well as two picture books, RAD! and Buddy: The Story of Buddy Holly, which was an IRA Children’s Book Award Notable and a Bank Street Book of the Year. Hawaii-born, she divides her time between Texas and Canada.


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Monday, February 17, 2020

Finding Esme: Review and Giveaway


FINDING ESME
by
SUZANNE CROWLEY

   Genre: Middle Grade (3-7) / Magical Realism / Family & Loss Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Date of Publication: August 14, 2018
Number of Pages: 288

Scroll down for the giveaway!



After her grandfather died from a heart attack while driving his tractor on Solace Hill, twelve-year-old Esme's been inextricably drawn to that spot, although her grandmother warns her to stay away. But when she follows her little brother, Bo, and her dog, Old Jack, up the hill while chasing fireflies, she makes an incredible discovery—dinosaur bones peeking out from underneath the abandoned tractor. The bones must be a message from her grandfather, a connection from beyond the grave. But when word gets out that the farm is hiding something valuable, reporters, researchers, and neighbors arrive in droves. Esme struggles to understand who has her best interests at heart, especially as the memory of her grandfather begins to slip away. Full of friendship and adventure, and featuring a palpable Texas setting, Finding Esme is a moving and heartfelt story about family, friendship, and learning to deal with loss.
PRAISE & HONORS FOR FINDING ESME:
“Esme is a brave, appealing heroine with the odds stacked against her… Bad blood and layered family secrets drive this story to its ultimately optimistic and satisfying conclusion.” -- Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review) “Esme McCauley is a lonely but spirited 12-year-old who feels nothing ever happens to her the way it’s supposed to...A poignant tale for readers who enjoy character-driven realism.” -- School Library Journal “Readers muddling through preteen changes or unstable family lives will identify with Esme’s struggles, but the thrill of discovery will appeal to most.” -- Booklist
Texas Library Association 2019 Spirit of Texas (SPOT) reading program selection

Rating: 5/5

"You ain't ever gonna conquer your fears unless you face them head-on." - Bee

Finding Esme is a perfect coming of age story. Esme is right in those awkward years, where boys become interesting and girl friends can become mean. Where being odd is frowned upon. Esme's tale is really about finding herself, finding where she fits in, and accepting what makes her stand apart from everyone else: her ability to find lost things, an inherited trait like her Grandma Bee. 

Esme is at a lost after the untimely death of her Grandfather Paps. She always seems to be searching, but for what she doesn't really know. Everyone in her home seems to be suffering just a little and in their own ways. June Rain (their mother) rarely talks, Bo acts out in his own way (hyper they call him at school) and Bee does her best to take care of everyone. With Esme's father missing, and Paps gone, Esme just isn't sure where she fits in anymore. She begins to notice things from her past that she had missed, her friends don't really seem like her friends anymore, and she seems to be at odds with her friend Finch. Soon she's on a path that leads her to bones, mystery, and history. And through her journey acceptance of who she is and forgiveness of those that hurt her. 

I think what really stood apart from this book was Esme's voice. This character swept me off my feet right from the beginning. She's imaginative and thought-provoking. I could hear the hint of a southern drawl as she narrated, and it was easy to fall into a gentle rhythm hearing her voice and falling into her story. 

Another character that I loved was Bee. She had such a level head about everything. She's a wonderful role model for Esme, and her words of wisdom were very insightful. She's is Esme's rock throughout the entire book, the one solid thing that doesn't sway. She was a priceless gem!

I simply loved the setting as well. I enjoyed Esme's interactions with everyone else in town, to be completely submerged in Esme's world. Esme is about fitting the pieces of broken hearts back together and accepting what makes you you!

"Bee always said life was about leavings and comings, but I think it's about those who stay."- Esme






Suzanne Crowley is the author of two acclaimed novels for young readers, The Very Ordered Existence of Merilee Marvelous and The Stolen One. The author, who is also a miniaturist and dollhouse collector whose work has graced the covers of magazines worldwide, was born in a small town in Texas and lives in Southlake, Texas. When not hugging her dog or imbibing in chocolate, she can often be found taking a nap.
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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

All In Review and Giveaway

ALL IN
by
L.K. Simonds
Genre: Gritty Realistic / Christian Fiction Publisher: Morgan James Publishing Date of Publication: August 27, 2019
Number of Pages: 282
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A woman’s empty pursuit of happiness leads to a crisis before finding redemption in the Lord in this challenging and gritty Christian novel. Twenty-nine-year-old novelist and blackjack dealer Cami Taylor seems to have it all—but just underneath her confident exterior and newfound celebrity is a young woman in trouble. Cami’s boyfriend, Joel, wants to get married, buy a house on Long Island, and raise a family—a life that’s a million miles from Cami’s idea of happiness. Her therapist suggests compromise and trust, but Cami would rather bolt like a deer. Breaking things off with Joel, Cami launches herself on a new quest for happiness. But her pursuit of pleasure only takes her further from herself—and toward a harrowing new reality unlike anything she’s faced before. What follows for Cami is a fight to the death that can only be waged with God’s love.
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L.K. SIMONDS PRESENTS CAMI TAYLOR:

All In was a wonderful, powerful story about a woman on the edge of despair trying to find her place in life. Cami Taylor is 29 years old and is a best selling author and a pro at playing the gambling tables. She appears on the surface like she has everything a girl could want, but underneath the raw exterior is a person suffering without a path to follow. Because though Cami has it all, she’s missing three important things in her life, happiness, forgiveness, and Faith. 

Cami's struggle through the book is raw and deep. And it hits the nail on what is most important in life, relationships. Perhaps the author hadn't intended on making this a behind the current focal point of the story, but it is something about the book that really stood out to me. It's what makes the difference in Cami's life, the people who are there for her, the people who help her, the people that help her find that small spark of hope that still living somewhere deep in Cami's soul. And the relationships that Cami develops through the story are priceless, each person that becomes important to her is loveable and sincere and reminds us of what's important in each of our journey's. Such a beautiful message and it speaks to everyone. 

Not often do I read Christain stories, but I found myself falling in love with this story and I think it's a lovely read for just about anybody. It's a bright light on a gloomy day. 

All In is a great read for anyone looking for a story of great inspiration. It’s a beautiful journey for anyone. Cami is a very believable character, and her story is a powerful one. Her relationships with others grow throughout the story and are truly the spirit of this book. Her struggle is an intense one. And the ending is soul-quenching to the very last page. 

All In is perfect for those that love a good Christian love story, enjoy a character that has personal struggles and has hit rock bottom, and a journey that will inspire you. 


Rating 4/5




L. K. Simonds is a Fort Worth local. She has worked as a waitress, KFC hostess, telephone marketer, assembly-line worker, nanny, hospital lab technician, and air traffic controller. She's an instrument-rated pilot and an alumna of Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas. All In is her first novel.
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