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Review & Giveaway: The Woman in the Photo by Mary Hogan

Thursday, July 28, 2016




The Woman in the Photo
Mary Hogan

Genre: HistoricalMystery
Paperback: 432 Pages
Publication: June 14, 2016
by William Morrow



1888: Elizabeth Haberlin, of the Pittsburgh Haberlins, spends every summer with her family on a beautiful lake in an exclusive club. Nestled in the Allegheny Mountains above the working class community of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, the private retreat is patronized by society’s elite. Elizabeth summers with Carnegies, Mellons, and Fricks, following the rigid etiquette of her class. But Elizabeth is blessed (cursed) with a mind of her own. Case in point: her friendship with Eugene Eggar, a Johnstown steel mill worker. And when Elizabeth discovers that the club’s poorly maintained dam is about to burst and send 20 million tons of water careening down the mountain, she risks all to warn Eugene and the townspeople in the lake’s deadly shadow.

Present day: On her 18th birthday, genetic information from Lee Parker’s closed adoption is unlocked. She also sees an old photograph of a genetic relative—a 19th century woman with hair and eyes likes hers—standing in a pile of rubble from an ecological disaster next to none other than Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross. Determined to identify the woman in the photo and unearth the mystery of that captured moment, Lee digs into history. Her journey takes her from California to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, from her present financial woes to her past of privilege, from the daily grind to an epic disaster. Once Lee’s heroic DNA is revealed, will she decide to forge a new fate?


Review

Novels that intertwine past and present have the potential to build a world and help us understand how a family has come to be in the present situation. The Taste of Appleseeds by Katharina Hagena and The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende are two fantastic examples of novels that do this well. The Woman in the Photo had the potential to do the same, but the execution and writing fell short of my expectations for a literary work. That said, some readers may enjoy this novel as one to pass away the time.

Giveaway: The Killer in Me by Margot Harrison

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


The Killer in Me
Margot Harrison

Genre: YA MysteryThriller
Hardback: 368 Pages
Publication: June 12, 2016
by Disney-Hyperion



Hasn't he lived long enough? Why not? I could take him like a thief in the night.

This is how the Thief thinks. He serves death, the vacuum, the unknown. He’s always waiting. Always there.

Seventeen-year-old Nina Barrows knows all about the Thief. She’s intimately familiar with his hunting methods: how he stalks and kills at random, how he disposes of his victims’ bodies in an abandoned mine in the deepest, most desolate part of a desert.

Now, for the first time, Nina has the chance to do something about the serial killer that no one else knows exists. With the help of her former best friend, Warren, she tracks the Thief two thousand miles, to his home turf—the deserts of New Mexico.

But the man she meets there seems nothing like the brutal sociopath with whom she’s had a disturbing connection her whole life. To anyone else, Dylan Shadwell is exactly what he appears to be: a young veteran committed to his girlfriend and her young daughter. As Nina spends more time with him, she begins to doubt the truth she once held as certain: Dylan Shadwell is the Thief. She even starts to wonder . . . what if there is no Thief?


Giveaway

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This post was made as part of the FFBC Tour.

Review & Giveaway: Pete the Cat and [Your Child's Name]'s Magic Sunglasses by Kimberly & James Dean

Thursday, July 14, 2016


Pete the Cat and [Insert Child Name]'s Magic Sunglasses
Kimberly & James Dean

Genre: Picture Book
Hardback: 40 Pages
by Put Me in the Story


View Book Details }

Pete the Cat is having one of those days—the kind where nothing is going his way. But when Grumpy Toad lends Pete a pair of cool, blue, magic sunglasses, that gloomy, dreary day turns itself around!

This personalized book about learning to see the world in a whole new way features your child’s name and photo along with an encouraging dedication message from you. Your child plays a special part in the story—they are the one to let Grumpy Toad borrow the magic sunglasses in the first place!

As Pete the Cat travels through town, he meets friends that could use a little bit of magic. A hungry squirrel, a tipped-over turtle, and a lonely alligator all get a boost of positive vibes from the magic sunglasses. But what happens when those magic sunglasses break?


Review

It's always a blast to meet a character that shares your name. It's even cooler to be an actual part of the story. Sourcebooks came up with a brilliant idea with the "Put Me in the Story" books. This feature allows givers to personalize children's books for their loved ones, so children can read books in which they get to play an important role in the protagonist's journey.

From the beginning, your child will feel like a part of the story. There's the title, which names the story after your child. And there is also the short dedication in the bottom right corner, which tells the child who the book is for (himself or herself) and who is giving the book to him or her (in my case, Mom and Dad).

I love the attention to detail with these books. On one page of Pete the Cat and Crystal's Magic Sunglasses, which I made out to myself for review purposes, I saw a street sign named after my family (Chen Pkwy) and a tree that had my name (Crystal) engraved into it. I can see children getting amped up when they see such details in the book. I was geeking out myself.

One theme in this book is that no matter how down we feel in the moment, once we begin listing all the good things, we'll realize that we're feeling alright. As Pete the Cat shares the magic with his friends, the refrain (for lack of a better word) comes up:

"The birds are singing.
The sky is bright.
The sun is shining.
I'm feeling ALRIGHT!"

This feature of Pete the Cat and [Insert Child's Name]'s Magic Sunglasses makes it an enjoyable read-a-loud where children can jump in for the refrain. I recommend pre-teaching this refrain, so your child can participate from the start.

The last page pays homage to the theme of feeling alright by calling attention to how our young reader is also feeling alright. (Mine says: "Crystal's feeling... ALRIGHT!"), and if you choose to upload a photo of your young reader, the 2-page spread will feature your child's photo alongside an illustration of Pete the Cat on his skateboard.

If you like this book but want a copy that you can share with everybody, you can purchase the original edition Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses. If you have a special reader in mind, however, I strongly recommend the "Put Me in the Story" edition. It's more interactive and will really make your child feel like a part of the story.

A copy was provided by Sourcebooks for review


Review

Enter the tour-wide giveaway to win a #MagicSunglasses Gift Bag

The #MagicSunglasses Gift Bag Includes:

• Personalized Pete the Cat Rock On Tote Bag
• Personalized copy of Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses
• + 2 personalized books of winner’s choice from Put Me In The Story

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Review: Change Places With Me by Lois Metzger

Sunday, July 3, 2016


Change Places with Me
Lois Metzger

Genre: YA mysteryscience fiction
Hardback: 224 Pages
Publication: June 14, 2016
by Balzer + Bray



Rose has changed. She still lives in the same neighborhood and goes to the same high school with the same group of kids, but when she woke up today, something was a little different. Her clothes and hair don’t suit her anymore. The dogs who live upstairs are no longer a terror. She wants to throw a party—this from a girl who hardly ever spoke to her classmates before. There’s no more sadness in her life; she’s bursting with happiness.

But something still feels wrong to Rose. Because until very recently, she was an entirely different person—a person who’s still there inside her, just beneath the thinnest layer of skin.


Review

Lois Metzger has a talent for writing dark, unsettling novels. Novels that, despite their dark mysterious nature, draw you deeper and deeper into the story. That, plus the complex nature of humanity that Metzger showcases in her work, is how I fell in love with her writing with A Trick of the Light.

Like A Trick of the Light, Change Places with Me captivated me from start to finish in a darkly fascinating way. I wanted to savor each word, but I also felt compelled to turn the page and could not put down the book until the last words. Metzger does not write your typical YA story. Her work is dark and gritty, but she has a talent for illustrating what it means to be human through coming of age stories. I especially enjoyed how she departed from the contemporary genre with Change Places with Me. It was refreshing and entrancing.

I recommend reading this book--and then checking out A Trick of the Light. Metzger is an author to watch out for. I can't wait to see what she brings us next!

* Pardon the brief review. I'm usually more detailed with my posts, but I'm in the middle of an intensive four week course and have a lot on my plate!! *

A copy was provided by Harper Collins for review



This post was made as part of the FFBC Tour.