Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


Leave a comment

Book Report: The Memory Keeper by Jennifer Camiccia

B9D92BB5-794E-4DCC-9873-F5AADA52D221

The Memory Keeper

Written by Jennifer Camiccia

Aladdin, An imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division; 2019

 

I received a copy of The Memory Keeper through Natalie Aguirre’s blog Literary Rambles. Thank you, Natalie and Jennifer!

I enjoyed reading The Memory Keeper. The cover is very attractive and captured my attention while also giving me a place of setting. The characters are really fun and engaging. I learned SOOOO much about brains in this book. Do not be turned off by that statement. This is a far cry from medical descriptions of brain information. Jennifer expertly wove brain facts into the story. Each chapter begins with a new bit of information relevant to that chapter, and then off we go!

The story of Lulu, a young girl with HSAM (Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory) and her grandmother, who might be beginning to suffer from dementia OR memory-related stress incidents, is a great read.

Why I Loved This Book:

~ The characters are fantastic.

~ I learned so much about brain science (in a fun, non-textbook sort of way).

~ Mystery, danger, intrigue!

~ I liked the friendship factor.

~ Dysfunctional family. Who doesn’t have one of those?

~ I enjoyed the history and inter-generational relationships.

~ The problem-solving and hidden secrets really upped the story intrigue.

~ Excellent writing and story telling.

6DD8304C-64C3-45FE-A950-241538CF60C7

Amazon Blurb:

Fish in a Tree meets The Thing About Jellyfish in this heartfelt middle grade debut about long-buried secrets, the power of memory, and the bond between a girl and her gram.

All Lulu Carter wants is to be seen. But her parents are lost in their own worlds, and Lulu has learned the hard way that having something as rare as HSAM—the ability to remember almost every single moment in her life—won’t make you popular in school.

At least Lulu has Gram, who knows the truth about Lulu’s memory and loves her all the more for it. But Gram has started becoming absentminded, and the more lost she gets, the more she depends on Lulu…until Lulu realizes her memory holds the very key to fixing Gram’s forgetfulness. Once Lulu learns that trauma can cause amnesia, all she needs to do to cure Gram is hunt down that one painful moment in Gram’s life.

With her friends Olivia and Max, Lulu digs into Gram’s mysterious past. But they soon realize some secrets should stay buried, and Lulu wonders if she ever knew Gram at all. It’s up to Lulu to uncover the truth before the only person who truly sees her slips away.

15F7C291-D2FE-44F9-8027-241756BC05BD

I hope you enjoy The Memory Keeper. Great read!

 

 

 


2 Comments

Book Report: The Virtue of Sin by Shannon Schuren

EA7DE9AC-6190-458A-86AE-D5992A5902D6

The Virtue of Sin

Written by Shannon Schuren

Philomel Books

An imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, 2019

 

Much thanks to Shannon Schuren, Literary Rambles,  and Natalie Aguirre for sending me this beautiful copy of The Virtue of Sin.

I don’t know what I expected when I read The Virtue of Sin by Shannon Schuren, but this was not it. I was pleasantly surprised and intrigued to find out this debut YA is a tale of young love but also how that love goes awry in the midst of a secluded group.

Daniel, the group leader and mouth of God, has established New Jerusalem to provide members a safe and untouched by the outside world haven. Strict rules have been set in place regarding social interactions, life careers, even Matrimony.

Miriam is very excited for the Matrimony, as she is certain Caleb will name her as his wife. But when that does not happen and Miriam’s name is called by Aaron, a newcomer, Miriam’s life plan falls apart. And she begins to question and allow her voice to be heard.

There are sooo many unexpected twists in The Virtue of Sin. I really want to name a few, but I’m going to let you discover them on your own. Two thumbs up.

What I loved about this book:

~ The characters were rich! Mystery, emotions, hidden agendas, evil motivations, forbidden love.

~ I enjoyed Shannon’s portrayal of the group, leadership control, and member dynamics. Ok, not enjoyed, as I so wanted to speak out to Miriam and other characters. But I was totally engaged in the problems of the day.

~ The setting. Great descriptions that made me feel like I was right there in the book.

~ The plot line was fascinating. Like I mentioned above, so many unexpected twists. As I was reading, my side brain was constantly exploring the whats and whys and possible nexts. Loved it!

~ Great writing!

 

Amazon Blurb:

A compelling novel about speaking out, standing up, and breaking free — perfect for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale and Tara Westover’s Educated.

Miriam lives in New Jerusalem, a haven in the desert far away from the sins and depravity of the outside world. Within the gates of New Jerusalem, and under the eye of its founder and leader, Daniel, Miriam knows she is safe. Cared for. Even if she’s forced, as a girl, to quiet her tongue when she has thoughts she wants to share, Miriam knows that New Jerusalem is a far better life than any alternative. So when God calls for a Matrimony, she’s thrilled; she knows that Caleb, the boy she loves, will choose her to be his wife and they can finally start their life together.

But when the ceremony goes wrong and Miriam winds up with someone else, she can no longer keep quiet. For the first time, Miriam begins to question not only the rules that Daniel has set in place, but also what it is she believes in, and where she truly belongs.

Alongside unexpected allies, Miriam fights to learn–and challenge–the truth behind the only way of life she’s ever known, even if it means straying from the path of Righteousness.

A compelling debut novel about speaking out, standing up, and breaking free.

DSC_1197

 


Leave a comment

Book Report: The Disasters by M. K. England

The Disasters

The Disasters

By M. K. England

Harper Teen, 2018

 

I won a copy of an ARC of The Disasters by M. K. England through Literary Rambles, an ‘everything literature’ blog by Natalie Aguirre. SPOILER ALERT

Blurb From Goodreads:

Hotshot pilot Nax Hall has a history of making poor life choices. So it’s not exactly a surprise when he’s kicked out of the elite Ellis Station Academy in less than twenty-four hours.

But Nax’s one-way trip back to Earth is cut short when a terrorist group attacks the Academy. Nax and three other washouts escape—barely—but they’re also the sole witnesses to the biggest crime in the history of space colonization. And the perfect scapegoats.

On the run and framed for atrocities they didn’t commit, Nax and his fellow failures execute a dangerous heist to spread the truth about what happened at the Academy.

They may not be “Academy material,” and they may not get along, but they’re the only ones left to step up and fight.

Book Report

I truly enjoyed reading The Disasters. Nax is a mix of Captain Kirk and Han Solo-rebellious, risk-taking, and flying by the seat of his pants. Oh, and don’t forget skilled and able to creatively solve problems. The rest of the cast was just as interesting and unique. These failures who were kicked out of Ellis Station Academy formed a team capable of trying to figure out what to do to help, well, the Universe.

What I loved: I enjoyed the characters and the setting of post now. I found it intriguing that once humans left the area, they were unable to ever visit Earth again. I loved the mystery and thrill of bad things happening, evil plans, and plot twists. The living in outer space setting was fun and I might have learned a few new things.

I found the writing to be smooth, engaging, and page-turning. I think I finished the book over 2-3 evenings. Just couldn’t put it down.

da49c391-dd8b-4db9-85ea-45dd53cf9b0d

Thanks to M. K. England, Literary Rambles, and Natalie Aguirre. Great read!

You can read the interview over at Literary Rambles here.


Leave a comment

Book Report: BRIGHTLY BURNING by Alexa Donne

235C81E8-7BB9-4D4A-B6DA-62EA54B67EBA

Brightly Burning

By Alexa Donne

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018

 

Excerpt from book jacket:

“Stella Ainsley leaves poverty behind when she quits her engineering job aboard the Stalwart to become a governess on a private ship…But no one warned Stella that the ship seems to be haunted, nor that it may be involved in a conspiracy that could topple the entire interstellar fleet.”

Add to that nineteen-year-old Captain Hugo (aka love interest/person of interest), murder attempts, possible marriage, and personal risk for Stella, and you have an excellent mystery adventure set in space. Post ice age space, where all humans have jettisoned from Planet Earth to live in spaceships above the frozen landscape.

I was hooked from the beginning chapter to the final words. Brightly Burning is a fast read. At least I read it quickly! Memorable characters, mysteries and escalating tension, and a unique setting kept me glued to the pages. Though Brightly Burning is written for teens, readers of all ages will enjoy the captivating world created by Alexa Donne.

I received a copy of Brightly Burning from Alexa Donne, through Literary Rambles  and Natalie Aguirre. Thank you both very much for a great read!

 


Leave a comment

Book Report: The Bird and the Blade

6008B788-BF92-468A-B9C8-AD0418DA90A8

The Bird and the Blade

by Megan Bannen

(Balzer + Bray, An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2018)

 

I recently received a free copy of The Bird and the Blade from Literary Rambles,  Natalie Aguirre, and Megan Bannen.

I was interested in reading The Bird and The Blade because of the title. I like birds. The blade, I could only assume, was sword like and sharp. I was correct on one count. The blade was an actual blade, though I will not spoil the ending by telling you much more about it. The bird was not an actual bird, but the main character, Jinghua.

Without giving too much away, this story is about love, war, families, dynasties, refugees, stations in life, relationships, and courage. The tale begins with a young female slave, Jinghua. But that is not the whole of her.

Through careful revelation and continually going back in time while moving forward, readers learn about Jinghua and how her life has changed. I didn’t know before I read, but this tale was inspired by the opera Turandot and is a retelling of
“Prince Khalaf and the Princess of China.” Despite the ancient beginnings of the story, it is worth every century!

I enjoyed The Bird and the Blade. I loved how the story is organized, with flashbacks to share important details. As I read the “current” portions of the story, I eagerly anticipated the next travel back in time to find out more details. And there are some very juicy details!

Young adults and adults will enjoy this well-written tale, The Bird and the Blade. Thank you, Literary Rambles, for introducing me to this book and author.


Leave a comment

The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke

6F87690A-42DD-468B-B26A-4C0804B663FC

The Girl with the Red Balloon

Written by Katherine Locke

(Albert Whitman & Company, 2017)

 

Last fall, I won a copy of The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke from Natalie Aguirre’s Literary Rambles.

I immediately read The Girl with the Red Balloon. Who can not read a book with a tag that says The wall keeps us in. Magic gets us out.?

The tale is told of Ellie, a girl who visits the Berlin Wall Memorial during a school field trip. Ellie has family ties to World War II and Germany, as her grandfather miraculously escaped from a death camp. As Ellie considers the impact of that horrible time period, she notices a red balloon. Innocently, she grabs the string and is immediately deposited in East Berlin in 1988, where she is found by Kai, a member of an underground society. Ellie, Kai, and several others must work to figure out how and why Ellie was transported back in time when the purpose of the red balloons was to take death camp members over the wall and away from a certain terrible fate.

Much history is shared in the telling of this story. I loved the mixture of magical realism, history, teen relationships, family heritage, and mystery. Danger, high stakes, death, and good versus evil all blend together in this great story. Ellie is stuck in the past and must find a way to return to her own time. But this is complicated by magical developments and a budding romance.

Locke tells the story from different viewpoints, but the switch off is easy to follow as every chapter is clearly labeled with the point of view character. I had to focus a bit to understand the historical connections, but the book is well written and engaging.

The Girl with the Red Balloon is a great read for anyone who enjoys history hooked together with a bit of magic.

P.S. Look what comes out this fall!

7C34D4E4-5BAF-4257-B170-9A6D32971F22


2 Comments

The Countdown Conspiracy by Katie Slivensky ~ Chapter Book Review

51D1A32F-AFA7-4745-B113-6F5BE9C64F8A

The Countdown Conspiracy

Written by Katie Slivensky

(Harper, 2017)

 

Six kids. One Mission to Mars. All systems go.

So says the front cover of The Countdown Conspiracy. All systems go, but smoothly?

The Countdown Conspiracy is the story of six kids from around the world chosen to train for the first mission to Mars. Miranda Regent was stoked to be one of the selected few. Until she began receiving threatening messages. At the training base, Miranda worked with the other international ambassadors to learn necessary information and skills. Suddenly, Miranda finds herself the target of an attack on the training base, an attack that put everyone’s lives in danger.

I loved reading The Countdown Conspiracy! It is the perfect combination of adventure, mystery, tension, and relationships. Each chapter had me hooked and I consumed this chapter book in a very short time. When it ended, I was ready for the next installment.

Katie Slivensky did a great job in writing this book. Middle graders will enjoy the clean, exciting details and intrigue woven through the relationships and outer space adventures. The Countdown Conspiracy is a wonderful debut chapter book! Two thumbs up.

I won an ARC copy of The Countdown Conspiracy from Katie and Natalie (Literary Rambles). Thank you, Katie and Natalie! Great reading!

 

P.S. The Seismic Seven by Katie Slivensky is coming in June!