Posts Categorized: Book Review

A Story of Hope with The Feathered Bone

September 21, 2016 Book Review, reviews 1

A Story of Hope with The Feathered BoneThe Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell
Published by Thomas Nelson on January 26th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Inspirational
Pages: 384
Source: purchased
AmazonIndieBound
Goodreads
four-half-stars

So maybe a miracle is anything that gets us through another day when life gets too hard.

The Feathered Bone begins with a class field trip to the Big Easy: New Orleans on Halloween. Two best friends, Sarah and Ellie are twelve, best friends and middle schoolers. Since their moms are best friends they’ve grown up to be almost inseparable. When Ellie’s mom, Amanda, is left to chaperone the two girls so Beth, Sarah’s mom can return to her work as a pastor’s wife, the unspeakable happens. Sarah goes to the restroom but never returns to the group. With Sarah’s disappearance, Amanda and Ellie both fight the guilt demons plaguing them. The Feathered Bone is a look at how do you have faith and hope in the face of unspeakable horror? How do you survive the guilt? and as a victim, how do you get through each day, each awful happening and still remain true to yourself and your faith?

That’s what we have to remember. Light defeats darkness. Never the other way around.

The Feathered Bone is also a story of trusting our instincts and valuing our own worth. It’s a testament to *feminism, a story of hope and the power of God to carry us through. Julie Cantrell’s books tackle the worst of mankind yet reveals the hope of mankind as well. Depression, domestic violence and trafficking are all tackled with equal voracity. Honestly, I started crying half-way through and didn’t stop until I closed the book. It’s the story of your neighbor, a friend, a relative, or even one in which you see parts of yourself.

Favorite Passage

He said that the day he tried to kill himself, he sat in front of Walmart for three hours trying to talk himself out of it. He sat right there on the bench, almost in tears, and thought, If one person smiles at me, I won’t do it. That’ll be a good enough reason to live. But in those three hours, nobody did. You know how many people go in and out of Walmart in the span of three hours? But everybody walked right past him, looking down at their phones or off in the distance, pretending he wasn’t there at all. He felt invisible. As if he were already dead. So he figured, what’s the point? And he went home and he did it. And only by the grace of God did he live to tell us that story. So from that moment on, I decided I never want to be the one who walks by and doesn’t smile. I want to be the one who makes everybody feel glad to be alive. To let them know they matter.

Final Thoughts

It’s difficult to beat Julie Cantrell’s debut novel Into the Free. I fell in love with Millie’s character and strength and the Depression-era setting. When  Mountains Move carries forward Millie’s life into adulthood. Both books are historical fiction {one of my favorite genres}. The Feathered Bone is straight from the headlines of today. I could taste the gumbo, smell the wet, swampy marsh and feel the sweltering humid heat during Hurricane Katrina. The characters ring true: Amanda’s guilt, Ellie’s depression, and Beth’s faith. Once you close the pages you’ll have been rung out, but you will know the tremendous power of faith, hope and love.

*my definition: feminism is equality for men and women rather than a continued patriarchal society 

Julie CantrellAbout the Author

Julie Cantrell has got to be one of the nicest authors around! Here she is sharing a favorite recent read for the 30Authors annual event. To learn more about this lovely lady and her books visit her website | Twitter | Facebook.  If you’re a foodie like me, definitely check out some of these recipes for gumbo and jambalaya! AND, if you saw my recent post on authors who create playlists to accompany or inspire their books and characters then you may have seen The Feathered Bone and Julie Cantrell featured there as well!

[Tweet “A story of hope and faith in times of unspeakable horror with @juliecantrell”]

four-half-stars

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Kidlit Review: Max at Night

September 16, 2016 Book Review, reviews 5

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Kidlit Review: Max at NightMax at Night by Ed Vere
Published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky on September 1st 2016
Genres: Children, Picture Books
Pages: 32
Source: complimentary review copy
AmazonIndieBound
Goodreads
three-half-stars

In Max at Night we find Max getting ready for bed, but he can’t find the moon to say goodnight. Like most any young child, Max will not rest until he has completed his bedtime routine. With the moon nowhere to be found Max goes in search believing the higher he gets the closer to the moon he will be and the more likely it is he will see that errant moon.

The illustrations in Max at Night are sparse yet beautiful. The colors are darker, giving the impression of night while the stars and lettering are a bright white. The combination creates a calming scene. Max at Night is a good bedtime picture book for younger children, probably from ages zero to five. The words are simple enough that an older sibling with a reading level of 2 or 3 could read the bedtime story {giving the older sibling reading practice and the younger sibling the awe of the attention of the older sibling}.

My 5-year-old grandson and I read it a couple of times. He especially liked the part where Max gets frustrated and shouts “Mooooooooon! Where are yoooouu?” Of course it may have been because I startled him with the really loud shout and sound effects!  {I wouldn’t recommend doing that if read at bedtime}. 😉

There is a definite play on the classic Goodnight Moon as the story begins, and Max is saying goodnight to everything. Overall, we enjoyed Max at Night, but we did not love it. I am quite impressed by the incredible job the author/illustrator does of giving expressions to Max that are easily distinguished. The illustrations are the best part of the book.

[Tweet “Adorable picture book that builds on the classic ‘goodnight moon'”]

Extra Credit

Download the pdf activity kit here. It is the cutest thing ever, starting off with “can you tell how Max is feeling based on his expressions?” What’s so cute about the activity is Max has no mouth, only eyes and a nose. The expressions Vere creates with just Max’s eyes are incredible. This type of activity can help build empathy and emotional intelligence in young children.

Author Links

Website: http://www.edvere.com/
Twitter: @ed_vere
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ed_vere/

Enter to Win

With thanks to Sourcebooks Jabberwocky enter to win an original sketch by author and illustrator Ed Vere
a Rafflecopter giveaway


linking to Saturday’s Kid Connection with Booking Mama

Many thanks to Sourcebooks Jabberwocky for a copy of Max at Night to review.

three-half-stars

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KidLit Review and Giveaway: The Storybook Knight

September 9, 2016 Book Review, reviews 2

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

KidLit Review and Giveaway: The Storybook KnightThe Storybook Knight by Helen Docherty, Thomas Docherty
Published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky on September 6th 2016
Genres: Children, Picture Books
Pages: 32
Source: complimentary review copy
AmazonIndieBound
Goodreads
five-stars

 

Little Leo is not the knight his parents expected. He enjoys nothing more than reading and being kind to all. His parents don’t believe a knight should be gentle, so when they read an ad about a dragon needing taming, off they send Leo to do them proud!

One morning, Leo’s parents said
they’d like to have a chat.
There was nothing wrong with reading,
but he couldn’t just do that!

Along the way, Leo encounters a griffin, a troll and a dragon. Rather than use the new sword and shield his parents gave him, Leo uses his head, his heart and the books he brought along for the trip.

A few of the lessons

  • Books are cool because you will know what a griffin is should you happen upon one!
  • You can be successful in a ‘fight’ with savvy smarts and knowledge without the use of swords and shields.
  • It’s ok if others are different, and I’m quieter and like to read. I’ve got equally great qualities, though I may be different from you.
  • The world could use more kindness and acceptance.

Final Thoughts

Truly a delightful picture book for both adults and children! My grandson, who is now in Kindergarten, and I have read this one quite a few times. Both of us love it! Me, for the lovely manner in which books and reading are featured, the numerous messages woven throughout the book, and the inclusion of the classic Billy Goat’s Gruff! My grandson loves this one for the rhyming that lends itself to some fantastic reading aloud. The bright colors of the pictures, along with the attention to detail, have kept us finding new features in the layouts! Honestly, The Storybook Knight gets 4 thumbs-up from this reading duo!

[Tweet “.#thestorybook is sure to become a children’s classic and an adult favorite!”]

Extra Credit

→Visit here to take Leo’s pledge and become a Storybook Knight. “Remember: A story is mightier than the sword.”

→We all know how children enjoy receiving happy mail, right? For your wee reader friends or family, mailing the book + the printable Activity Kit is a package little ones from ages 4 – 8 will be thrilled to receive.

AND/OR

→Most students are back in school now that September is well underway. And most of us adults have heard the plight of our tireless teachers, yes? A truly wonderful gift for your Kindergarten, 1st or 2nd grade teacher would be the book + the printable Educators Guide which aligns with the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts.

Author and Illustrator Links

Thomas Docherty: www.thomasdocherty.co.uk
Twitter: @TDIllustration

Helen Docherty: www.helendocherty.com
Twitter: @docherty_helen

Enter for a chance to win

a Rafflecopter giveaway

five-stars

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Book Review: Into the Free

September 3, 2016 Book Review 5

Book Review: Into the FreeInto the Free by Julie Cantrell
Published by David C. Cook on February 1st 2012
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Inspirational
Pages: 329
Source: purchased
AmazonIndieBound
Goodreads

 

Into the Free begins with 9-year old Millie wishing for a way to escape her life, her abusive father and a mother who gets so blue she forgets to care for Millie.  The family lives in a tiny shack, former slaves quarters, which have since been remodeled into tenant housing for the farm hands. Millie’s dad, Jack, is a rodeo cowboy and helps with the horses on the farm. Millie’s mom takes in ironing and sewing when she’s not gone away to the dark place Millie calls ‘the valley.’

What is remarkable with Into the Free is the seemingly ease of interweaving hope and a realistic faith throughout the threads of the novel. Not all Christians portrayed in the book are “good” just as in real life some proclaimed Christians are bad…very bad. Had the novel been set in most recent times, Millie would have been removed from her parent’s home due to the abuse suffered at the hands of her father and the neglect of her mother. When Millie is around a regular family we can see how hard it is for an abused child to accept kindness, gentleness and love. Having worked with abused children I can attest to the absolute accuracy of Cantrell’s portrayal of Millie.

[Tweet “Beautiful coming-of-age story set in Depression-era Mississippi”]

It would have been easy for Cantrell to fall into the use of stereotypes and yet such is not the case with Into the Free. If anything, stereotypical characters are turned on their head. The gypsy is not dirty nor illiterate and the grandparents who shun Millie are supposed to be of good Christian stock. That’s not to say there’s not a few characters who happen to fall into a stereotype, but they make it so easy! For instance, the ladies who cluck about everything Millie is and does. Although the ladies did offer a little bit of comic relief, even if it was because we’ve all known those types of busy-bodies with an opinion on everything without knowing anything.

Julie Cantrell does a magnificent job of tackling diversity, child abuse, the gross hypocrisy of a few so-called Christians and the resilience of children, to not only survive a horrific childhood, but to then thrive. Believing God has forgotten about her, Millie slowly comes to realize God was with her all along, even in the deepest pits of despair.

I do two things,” she told me. “I remind myself that it’s not all about me. And I focus on the good. There’s always a way to find some good.

I can’t recommend this one highly enough. If you enjoy Joshilyn Jackson or Susan Gregg Gilmore then you’ll most likely fall in love with Julie Cantrell and her band of characters.

Just a note When Mountains Move is the follow-up to Millie’s story taking us into her adulthood. Review coming soon!

In a few words: Emotional, heart-felt coming-of-age story. Inspirational, though not overtly preachy.  Southern, yet diverse with gypsies and Indians playing vital roles. Set in a small train town during the Depression-era Mississippi. Highly Recommended.

Connect with author Julie Cantrell on website | Facebook | Twitter

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Book Review: The Innocents

August 29, 2016 Book Review, reviews 2

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Book Review: The InnocentsThe Innocents (Quinn Colson, #6) by Ace Atkins
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on July 12th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Southern
Pages: 367
Source: complimentary review copy
AmazonIndieBound
Goodreads
three-half-stars

 

In December of 2014 the horrific murder of 19-year old Jessica Chambers rocked the South, especially the small town of Panola, Mississippi. This murder stood out from its lack of witnesses and evidence. And most especially by the manner in which Jessica was murdered – covered in lighter fluid and set on fire. It wasn’t until February of this year that an arrest was made.

Inspired by the horrific murder of Jessica Chambers, The Innocents tells the story of 17-year old Millie Jones from the fictional town of Jericho, Mississippi. This was my first introduction to both Ace Atkins and his Quinn Colson series. It would have been helpful to read the first 5 books in the series before reading The Innocents, Book 6. There’s a lot of back story I missed by not having read the first five!

So, what did I think?

The Innocents had enough twists and turns, red herrings and colorful characters to keep me turning the pages as fast as I could. While I suspected the murderer early on {probably from watching too much Law & Order}, I had to read through to the end to find out the why, how and all the circumstances.

Ace Atkins has a way of fleshing out his characters. The ‘bad’ characters were not completely bad just as the good characters were not all good. Atkins ability to plop the reader down in the midst of a southern town with all its intricacies, politics and local characters added to the reading experience.

As I mentioned, this is my first Ace Atkins book so I’m not familiar with his series style. There were a few threads in The Innocents that did not get played out. One such sub-plot involving a Muslim clerk, I really expected some kind of resolution, but was left dangling.

For the series to be about Quinn Colson, Quinn Colson seemed to play more of a background role in this book. Granted he’s no longer the sheriff of fictional Jericho, but I thought he would be more of a central character. On the flip side, I thoroughly enjoyed the strong female sheriff and hope Lillie continues to play a primary role.

An enjoyable read satisfying that desire for a fast-paced mystery. If you like Greg Iles, especially his early mysteries, then I imagine you’ll be right at home reading Ace Atkins.

 

 

three-half-stars

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