The Warning by Paul Paul, translated by Simon Bruni #WatchingWhatI’mReading

I DON’T WISH TO FRIGHTEN YOU….

Eight year old Leo, a uniquely “different” boy who has become the center of all bullying at his school, opens a note in his backpack addressed To The Nine Year Old Boy. Scared, shaking in terror, Leo gives the note to his parents who, by the way, should be nominated for the worst parents in all of literature. They assume that Leo has written the note for attention and add to his torment rather than comprehending the danger.

In the same, small Spanish town, a series of robbery/murders have been occurring for nearly a century. The note suggests that little Leo could possibly be the next to die.

The Warning

In the introduction, the author, Paul Pen, apologizes for this, his first book, explaining that while we in the US are just now reading The Warning, it was his first work and therefore flawed. (insert laughing here) If The Warning is his most flawed work then I cannot imagine how incredible his subsequent work has to be! The Warning is classical horror at its finest and by “horror” I am referring to the original genre that brought us Frankenstein, The Yellow Wallpaper, Shirley Jackson’s work and the first writings of Stephen King. It is the genre that will leave you with an uneasy feeling, have you looking over your shoulder for something which you cannot name. Paul Pen has given us a tale in which you hope for a happily after ending knowing that there cannot be one – can there?

Told in alternate timelines nearly a decade apart, The Warning is the story of  Aaron, Andrea and David who are attempting to cope with the senseless shooting of David. Aaron believes he has found a link from David’s shooting to three others in the past. He hopes to stop a fourth one in the future, even if he drives himself insane in the process. Alternately, there is Leo a child who is tormented by bullies and by his own mother relentlessly. Aaron concludes that it is Leo who will be killed. Now he has to convince others and attempt to stop a killing that will happen nine years in the future.

While the book started a tiiiinny bit slow for me, it quickly all came together and rapidly became a book that absolutely floored me, so much so that I read this one in one sitting. It truly is one of the best books of any genre that I have read in ages! Even if you don’t think that you like “horror,” this is a book that you will not want to miss. It isn’t zombie apocalypse horror, it is true, psychological drama at its best.

Paul Pen’s books have been made into Netflix movies, including The Warning, and he currently is working on a Netflix series. Currently you can see The Warning on Netflix – but not until you read the book.

#Netgalley @Netgalley #PaulPen and @AmazonCrossing

Sunday Morning For the Kids #AWarmFriendship #TempleGrandin

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Good Morning! Each Sunday Morning, okay some Sunday mornings, I like to share with you some wonderful kids’ books that I’ve read the previous weeks. These are books that meet my very high standards. Naaahh, I like books with pretty pictures, that teach a lesson or don’t put me to sleep. I share them with a kid or two and if they agree then I share them with you. I don’t get overly picky because kids aren’t – or shouldn’t be – overly picky about what makes them happy.

A WARM FRIENDSHIP – by EllenDeLange, Illustrations by Jacqueline Molnar

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The creatures in the forest have made a friend with Mr. Snowman but he is very cold and shivering. They decide to bring him scarves to keep him warm but, of course, soon he is too warm and begins to melt. The animals are so sad that that they have lost their friend but they are reminded that they always will have the joy and memory of their friend with them forever.

This is a very short story, brilliantly illustrated and beautifully written about friendship, caring, empathy and, ultimately, loss. These are emotions that young children often struggle with understanding and to see it illustrated in this book so basically is just wonderful. I shared it with two children who were 5 years old and it was perfect for them. They easily grasped the concept of losing a loved one but holding on the joy you are left with. I think this book is perfect for a family bookshelf.

TEMPLE GRANDIN by Rachel Castro

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This is part of a new series of STEM Superstars. Hopefully you are aware that the STEM program is one that is in the US public schools to encourage Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics. The fact that they began the series with one of the greatest human minds in recent history is amazing – Temple Grandin. You see, Grandin is profoundly autistic. Her mother never gave up hope that her child could learn, was brilliant and would be able to contribute to society and, wow, was she ever correct! Temple Grandin revolutionized the way in which modern agriculture operated. She now is a THE leading spokesperson on Autism, teaching children with Autism, and an expert on all that we now refer to as “the spectrum.” As a mother of an adult son who is on the spectrum who is a leading performer with Cirque du Soleil, Temple Grandin is my hero!

Yes, as critics have pointed out, there are other books that offer more information about Temple Grandin, including her own. This book is for younger students, most likely Middle School students, who are interested in the STEM program. Hopefully it will interest students who are on the spectrum themselves and GIRLS who will be interested in the STEM program. Sadly my town’s STEM program is all male – not what it was meant to be.

If you have a younger, middle school aged child or are the parent of a child who has been diagnosed on the spectrum, I highly recommend this book. If you are a teacher in these fields or a homeschool teacher, please get this STEM series in the hands of your students.

 

Three for Thursday: Look Back at Christmas #ChristmasInSilverSprings #ComingHomeForChristmas and #AWeddingInDecember

Yes, I know it’s January but, seriously, when I’m sitting by the fire and drinking cafe au lait, my brain still wants to read holiday themed, cozy reads. Since it’s not quite time for Valentine’s Day yet, I’m still reading some great books from Christmas and pretending that they are “Winter” themed books instead. Won’t you join me?

CHRISTMAS IN SILVER SPRINGS – Brenda Novak

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Let me begin by pointing out that Christmas in Silver Springs in the 6th book in a series. While it is touted as being able to be read as a “stand alone,” it is not. I spent the majority of the book feeling like the sixth grade girl who got invited to the cool kids party but didn’t know anyone. Was I supposed to like Tobias? Know why he was in jail? Was I supposed to care who Harper was or her snotty sister? I think readers of Novak’s books are familiar with these characters and, most likely, has a relationship with them that allows the reader to overlook certain questionable aspects of a character. I didn’t have that luxury. Therefore, many of things that these characters said or did simply didn’t ring true for me.

With ALL of that stated, the book itself is well written, the characters are interesting and the story is a sweet one, full of angst and longing and hand wringing. If you are a fan of Novak’s then this is a “must read” for you. If you do not already read her books then I suggest that you start at the beginning which is what I intend to do. An added note to any and all publishers – PLEASE let us know when a holiday book is built on characters’ story lines from previous books. Not all authors do this, but many do and it is getting more and more annoying to pick up a book and realize you are starting at a disadvantage.

A WEDDING IN DECEMBER by Sarah Morgan

Wedding inDec

I absolutely adored A Wedding in December. This is exactly the fun, sweet, warm, witty story that I like to read any time of year but especially in the dead of winter. Don’t you just feel all warm and toasty reading a good love story? Okay, yeah,  I maybe stretching it a little but you know what I mean!

Rosie, an ex-pat from the UK, is marrying a yank from Aspen Colorado. Her family has flown in to celebrate the big day but not everyone is in the mood for festivities. Rosie’s parents are on the brink of divorce and her sister, Katie, who always has had a say in everything Rosie has done, is not happy about the groom, a man she has never met. When Katie meets his best friend, she is even less happy. Hi-jinks and shenanigans abound as the White family tries to keep secrets, break up the wedding, put everything back together again AND salvage their familial relationships. The writing is perfect, the characters are so realistic and the fun is abounding in this charming WINTER tale! I highly recommend it any time of the year.

COMING HOME FOR CHRISTMAS – by RaeAnne Thayne

Coming Home for Christmas

I’m extremely conflicted about Coming Home for Christmas. RaeAnne Thayne is a well known, much loved romance author and her writing is wonderful. I cared immensely for all of the characters, Elizabeth and Luke, and their children. Despite the fact that this is part of an ongoing series, there was enough backstory that I never felt lost or needed more information to comprehend what was going on with the main characters or those in the town.My concern with the book is the story line itself and its lack of credibility.

Elizabeth was suffering from post-partum depression, severely, to the point that she became suicidal and thought that she would harm her baby. Fleeing from her home, she eventually gets into an accident in which the driver was killed and Elizabeth was gravely injured, both physically and mentally. After a very long rehabilitation from which she never fully recovered, she made the decision that it would be better for her family if she stayed away from them. Meanwhile, Luke is going to be charged with her murder by the new hot-shot cop in town. The only way he can save himself is find answers about where Elizabeth is and why she stayed away. Okay, so when I write it all out it doesn’t soooo unbelievable. What do you think? I really loved the story and read it in a nanosecond so I’m going to say that I should recommend it with a the warning that parts may be a teeny-tiny bit contrived. That works.

So what about you? Did you get all of your holiday reading finished or are you like me and still carrying over some of those last minute finds? Have you read any of these? What did you think about them?

@Netgalley @HarlequinPress @SarahMorgan

 

 

An Everyday Hero @LauraTrentham

I was SO not expecting to like this book, An Everyday Hero. Like the main character, I’ve had enough of endless, mindless wars. I’m a Colonel’s wife and an Air Force brat and I have been faced with its horrors for far too long. I assumed that this book would be another sappy, propagandist piece of tripe. Let me assure you and loudly admit – I was WRONG!

everyday hero

From award-winning author Laura Trentham comes an emotionally layered novel about redemption, second chances and discovering that life is worth fighting for.

Greer Hadley is like so many young women with dreams of stardom and stars in their eyes. She set off for Nashville with a golden voice and hope as big as the ocean. However, after years of trying for that “big break” and being left with nothing except anxiety disorder, she heads home to a place she swore she would never return. After a bar crawl, she is ordered to do community service which just happens to be a music as therapy center. There Greer comes in contact with people who will change her life: a young teen with a huge chip on her shoulder named Ally and a wounded vet who is battling demons that may be to large for he or Greer to handle. What happens within the story is a beautiful unfolding of drama, hope, second chances and the will to rise up from the ashes.

Trentham is a master storyteller whose gift of prose shines throughout this book. There are so many opportunities for the story to turn cheesy and into a Hallmark moment, but she deftly guides the story line back to reality. I don’t read books about military personnel because that is a life I’ve lived for far too long but An Everyday Hero struck a chord so deep within me that I could not put down the book from its beginning to its end. It has three very strong, realistic, well developed characters with whom I connected and wanted to know more about. Their stories are compelling and I know you will love them as much as I did.

An Everyday Hero is slated to be published in February. It’s well worth putting on your TBR list now.

@Netgalley #StMartinsPress @StMartinsPress

Jane Anonymous @LaurieStolarz

WOW! If ever there was a book that should be summed up by that one word it is Jane Anonymous. From the first word of the prologue to the last letter in the book, I was fully engrossed and utterly captivated. Not once did I look up, stop for a break; I’m not sure I even breathed until I finished. It.Is.That.Good. Need more? Fine.

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The prologue is an open to letter to us, the readers, from “Jane” who has just returned from being held captive for seven months by a monster. Jane was taken one early morning by a man who vaguely looked familiar, put into a room and given a scoresheet from which she would be rewarded for simple things like eating, bathing, putting her trash out the pet door. That sounds far more simple than it was for the prisoner Jane who rebelled against her captivity by not eating, not bathing, not cleaning. But she is not alone. There is someone else on the other side of the wall. Someone who shares her darkness, her fears, someone she comes to love. But what if that someone goes away…. what if he isn’t real or worse.

Jane’s story is written in a then/now perspective as though Jane is writing her story for you as part of her therapy. We are able to read first hand her innermost thoughts, fears, hopes and crushing anxiety as she navigates back through the world of the free and living. This is a heart-pounding, gut-wrenching tale that dives into our deepest emotions and will leave you breathlessly ragged when you have finished but it so worth it! Yes, this book is written for young adults but don’t let that fool you. It is, by far, one of the best books I have read in a very long time. Just as SE Hinton wrote for this age group in the 70s with words that resonated across the age spectrum, Jane Anonymous will translate well for readers of all ages.

#StMartin’sPress @WednesdayBooks @netgalley #LaurieFariaStolarz

Murderous Mondays in the New Year – A Madness of Sunshine @NaliniSingh

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Have you ever been so caught up with the characters of a book that you miss you once you’ve finished? I have been walking around for a week trying to figure out what I’ve misplaced, who I haven’t contacted, what I’ve left undone, only to realize that what I’m missing are the people and places in A Madness of Sunshine! What a marvelous story and even better characters!

madness of sunshine

Will is a cop with a past that is dark and tumultuous. Once a rising star in the metro force, he now has been relegated to a very small hamlet by the ocean. There he simply wants to be a ghost, do his job overseeing petty crimes and live out his days in quiet. Ana has come home after fleeing the village and vowing never to return. Her childhood was traumatic and one that she wanted to leave behind her forever. Now, she has returned to forget the new life she has made. She, too, longs to be a ghost, to be left alone in solitude. Neither gets what they want when a beautiful young girl goes missing and rumors begin to tie her disappearance to hikers who vanished 15 years before.

While the premise of the story may seem, on the surface, like one we have read before, what sets this story apart from the rest is the location, the rugged New Zealand West Coast and its beautiful Maori people, and the incredible character development. I’ve read more than my fair share of crime fiction and come across plenty of down and out cops but few have reached out and grabbed me like Will did. There was something about the flaws of all of the characters, the major and minor ones, that made them more real, brought them to life, had them haunting my dreams. Has them in my head even now. A Madness of Sunshine is what all crime fiction should be.

Apparently this is a departure in genres for this author and I can only hope that we see more of this type of writing from her. If you haven’t already read A Madness of Sunshine you will want to add it to your must-read list, I promise.

Thank you to @Edelweiss for my copy of this incredibly book!

 

 

Harlequin Winter Blog Tour: Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin

I’m truly excited to bring you another feature today for the Harlequin Winter Blog Tour. I’ve calculated that if I continue to do 2-3 reviews a day for the next 100 days, I just might be caught up by SUMMER!  UGH!  I can read so much quicker than I can write. 😦   BUT – Rebecca Raisin is rapidly becoming one of my favorite authors so this post is extra special. You may recall that I read, reviewed and LOVED her book, “Rosie’s Traveling Tea Shop” (review HERE) but that is simply my favorite among many of her books that I’ve read. Now added to that list of faves is “Little Bookshop on the Seine.” I mean, who doesn’t love a story set in both Paris and a bookstore!?

Sarah owns her own little bookstore in a small town across the street from her best friend’s cafe. Readers of Rebecca Raisin will recognize many of the characters in Little Bookshop, but this is Sarah’s story and the first in the Paris series. Sarah loves her store, her books are more like family than “real people.” She has a handsome boyfriend who travels all over the world and Sarah is feeling a bit of that wanderlust herself. Her life has become a bit too predictable. When her online friend in Paris suggests a store swap, Sarah jumps at the chance, not really comprehending what she is getting herself into. The fast paced life of a Parisian bookstore is a far cry from her very laid back store in Ashford. Will Sarah be able to cut it or will she run back home to the safety of home and her friends?

I absolutely adored Sarah’s story. That feeling of restlessness is something of which I am very familiar. I wanted her to be stronger, get it together quicker, but as the story unfolds, we are able to see that Sarah is growing and maturing in very wonderful ways. This is more than just another cute cosy. As with so many of Raisin’s books, we see how women can rise to occasion when necessary and that within each of us is a strength we can call upon when needed. I highly recommend Little Bookshop on the Seine and, although it takes place around the holidays, it is not a holiday book. It is a marvelous introduction to a new series that is sure to be a great one.

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Rebecca Raisin is a true bibliophile.

This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. She’s been widely published in various short story anthologies, and in fiction magazines, and is now focusing on writing romance. The only downfall about writing about gorgeous men who have brains as well as brawn, is falling in love with them – just as well they’re fictional. Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships, and most importantly, believe in true love.

Thank you to #HarlequinPublishing and Rebecca Raisin @jaxandwillsmum for my copy of this wonderful book!

You can Little Bookshop on the Seine at the following booksellers:

Harlequin 

Indiebound

Amazon

Barnes & Noble 

Books-A-Million

Target

Walmart

Google

iBooks

Kobo