Lone Stars

by Mike Lupica

 

 

Clay is a quarterback’s dream. When he zips across the field, arms outstretched, waiting for the ball to sail into his hands, there’s no denying him the catch. Like most Texans, Clay is never more at home than when playing football. And his coach, a former star player for the Dallas Cowboys, is just like a second father.  But as the football season kicks off, Clay begins to notice some odd behavior from his coach—lapses in his memory and strange mood swings. The conclusion is painful, but obvious: Coach Cooper is showing side effects of the many concussions he sustained during his playing days. As Clay’s season wears on, it becomes clear that the real victory will be to help his coach walk onto that famous star logo in the middle of Cowboys Field one last time—during a Thanksgiving day ceremony honoring him and his former Super Bowl-winning teammates.

I usually don’t read a lot of sports books that are geared towards boys. I know I should but just never seem to pick them up. I’m trying to change that and I did with Lone Star. I know this author is very popular with upper elementary and middle grade readers. The main thing I really liked about this book is that the author uses it to shed light on head injuries in football. This is a very serious topic and one that young football fans and players should know about. However in Lone Star  the reader get’s to see how this head injury affects a loved one. Clay’s beloved football coach is suffering for the many years of getting hit in the head and receiving concussions while playing football when he was younger. Coach Monty has lots of help and support with his team and this is a heartwarming read. I liked that it had positive role models and that the kids were so willing to help out their friend in need. They were really more than just a football team, they were family.

Thank you Random House and Philomel Books for sending me a copy of Lone Star. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book. 

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One Leaf, Two Leaves Count With Me!

by John Micklos JR

illustrated by Clive McFarland

 

 

About the Book: This playful counting book shares the colorful highlights of the four seasons in charming illustrations.  Count your way through the seasons! In spring, the tree’s leaves appear, one by one. By summer, there’s a glorious canopy. And when autumn winds blow, leaves fly from the tree, one after another, leading us into winter. There’s a world of activity to spy in and around this beautiful tree as the wild creatures, and one little boy, celebrate the cycles of nature. As little ones count leaves, look for animals, and enjoy the changing seasonal landscape, bouncy rhymes and bold illustrations make learning to count easy—corresponding numerals reinforcing the learning fun.

 

This super cute counting book as well as a seasons book follows a boy and the tree in his yard. It opens up in spring and you count the leaves appearing on the bare tree 1-10 and the tree and scene’s are very spring like. The book briefly shows summer, then we are into fall. For fall you count down 10-1 as the leaves fall off the tree. Then you see the bare tree for winter. One Leaf, Two Leaves Count with Me! ends where it began with Spring. I really love the simple story and colorful illustrations. The simple sentences make the counting concept easy for the youngest listener and/or reader to understand. The concept of counting up and down leaves for the seasons is a neat one and I really enjoyed it. This is great addition for counting  or seasons story time.

Thank you so much Penguin Young Readers for sending me a copy of One Leaf, Two Leaves Count With Me! All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

Protected

by Claire Zorn

Publication Date: October 3, 2017

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Opening Line: I have three months left to call Katie my older sister. Then the gap will close and I will pass her. I will get older. But Katie will always be fifteen, eleven months and twenty-one days old. 

This book takes place in Australia and has won many awards there. Protected is the winner of the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction, Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction as well as CBCA Book of the Year for Older Readers. I am so happy this book has won awards for it story and writing. I’m even more happy that it is finally be published in America so we get the chance to read this book that will touch the reader and give you many ranges of emotions as you read.

 

 

 

About the book: Hannah’s world is in pieces and she doesn’t need the school counselor to tell her she has deep-seated psychological issues. With a seriously depressed mum, an injured dad and a dead sister, who wouldn’t have problems?   Hannah should feel terrible but for the first time in ages, she feels a glimmer of hope and isn’t afraid anymore. Is it because the elusive Josh is taking an interest in her? Or does it run deeper than that?   In a family torn apart by grief and guilt, one girl’s struggle to come to terms with years of torment shows just how long old wounds can take to heal.

 

Lately I’ve been getting a lot of books where a sibling passes away. These subjects are so hard to read.  I know for some it really helps them to process it all and understand that they are not alone when there are books that touch the subject. This book was so heartbreaking plan to have tissues nearby. Protected tackles bullying and I mean extreme horrible bullying. If that wasn’t enough to make you have so many ranges of emotion it also tackles the death of Hannah’s big sister. Hannah and her sister Katie were similar to my sister and I. We loved each other but really didn’t click. I know she feels like she got stuck with me a lot of times. I always got the feeling that Katie felt that way as well. Hannah and Katie had their differences but Katie did nothing when the mean kids also known as the popular kids were tormenting Hannah. This is where my sister was different she was always my best cheerleader and protector. Katie could have stopped it but Katie was wrapped up in her own world and I think she felt if she told them to stop she wouldn’t be in their group anymore and for her that was just not an option. Then something beyond tragic happens and the ironic thing is the mean kids no longer torment Hannah. Hannah really didn’t need them to torment her anymore she was going through a grief so unbearable that just day to day life tormented her and her family.

The families grief was very realistic and written very well. I could imagine myself being that mom that just didn’t want to face the days after the accident. She wanted to numb herself with pills and sleep. Maybe if she didn’t face the days she wouldn’t have to feel. The dad had his own grief in the fact that he was the driver, he was injured and dealing with day to day healing and pain from his injuries as well as unanswered questions. This means Hannah was left on her own to do deal with everything that happened and has happened to her leading up to this fateful day that changed everyone’s life in the family. Hannah finally finds someone who not only accepts her for who she is, he also didn’t know her before. He is her rock and someone she needs to finally accept everything and process it. Add an amazing school counselor who helps the healing process and doesn’t pass judgments she just listens which is what Hannah needs so much since her home life is where no one is listening or talking.

Protected by Claire Zorn  is a heavy book with topics to tackle. Claire Zorn did an amazing job and didn’t drop the ball at all. She tackles the death of a child, and school bullying full one and holds back no punches. I felt it was very realistic in what Hannah and her family were experiencing. This one will upset the reader but sometimes we need to read those books that push the buttons and makes you feel things you don’t want to. This is one I hope schools buy since I know it will talk to some readers and help them process things and know that  they are not alone.

Thank you so very much Sourcebooks Fire for sending me a copy of Protected by Claire Zorn. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

The Stars Beneath Our Feet

by David Barclay Moore

 

 

 

A boy tries to steer a safe path through the projects in Harlem in the wake of his brother’s death.

It’s Christmas Eve in Harlem, but twelve-year-old Lolly Rachpaul and his mom aren’t celebrating. They’re still reeling from his older brother’s death in a gang-related shooting just a few months earlier. Then Lolly’s mother’s girlfriend brings him a gift that will change everything: two enormous bags filled with Legos. Lolly’s always loved Legos, and he prides himself on following the kit instructions exactly. Now, faced with a pile of building blocks and no instructions, Lolly must find his own way forward. 


His path isn’t clear–and the pressure to join a “crew,” as his brother did, is always there. When Lolly and his friend are beaten up and robbed, joining a crew almost seems like the safe choice. But building a fantastical Lego city at the community center provides Lolly with an escape–and an unexpected bridge back to the world.

I’m not sure how to review this one. The Stars Beneath Our Feet was such a hard read, not in a bad way. It was a very emotional book and the reader really feels for Lolly and all he is going through. I can’t even imagine how most 12 year old’s would process losing a sibling. The grief process and his interactions seemed real to me.  I really think that for some this book will really touch them and stay with them. It was a little harsh to read  at times and made me really uncomfortable. I think that is what the author was going for?  I will say there is some language in there that might upset some readers, I know it did for me.  However sometimes those are the ones that really get people talking and discussing issues that need to be on the table. Overall it was a good book on topics and subjects I haven’t read many books about and not sure if there are many like this in the middle grade reader genre. I know there are many in the YA genre so I’m glad there a book for middle grade. That being said I could see this crossing over and some YA readers liking this book as well. While the main character is 12 it didn’t read as a young middle grade.  I think that this will be a very buzzed about book and up for many awards. I’m glad I was able to read it.

Thank you Alfred A Knopf Books for Young Readers for sending me a copy of The Stars Beneath Our Feet. All thoughts and opinions are our own and not influenced by the free book.

Ruthless

by Carolyn Lee Adams

 

 

 

 

When Ruth is kidnapped, she’s determined not to become this serial-killer’s next trophy. After she’s able to escape, her captor begins stalking her through the wilderness.

 

 

 

Ruthless is one that I’ve had on my shelf for a while but hadn’t picked up till yesterday. I started to read and then I couldn’t stop. This was such a non stop action game of cat and mouse, that now I’m wondering what took me so long to read it!? If you are looking for a creepy fast read than grab a copy of Ruthless from your local library or bookstore.  Ruth aka: Ruthless is a very driven girl who show’s horses. She isn’t out to make lots of friends she is out to win. She has had to grow up fast with the family she has and that has shaped her into who she is now.  She doesn’t stop till she gets what she wants even if it means stepping on toes and sounding ruthless. She isn’t a popular girl and only has a few friends. Even they get the rough side treatment from Ruth from time to time. I really think she is scared to let people in, scared of getting hurt, but that just might be my thinking. Ruth’s world changes and her drive is what will help her in the end. She is kidnapped by a serial killer and she isn’t going down with out a fight. Her abductor has met his match. Ruthless  is not only character driven and told from Ruth’s point of view but also very plot driven. The whole book takes place in the time frame of her abduction. I never really got a sense of how long she was taken but I think it was at least a week maybe a little less but more than a day or two. The author does an excellent job at placing you in the cabin and woods. I could visualize what I was reading and felt like I was there or watching it on the screen. This by the way would make a great tv movie. What I liked most about Ruthless was Ruth. I know she was not such a nice girl but we really didn’t get to see that since this takes place only in the present. The author does give us flashback glimpses into the serial killer abductors life to get an understanding of how and why he is like that. For me it didn’t make me feel bad for him. He was a mean, cruel, twisted guy that preyed on little girls. So I didn’t really like those parts. I did find the short time leading up to him taking Ruth more relevant since it let you see how he stalked and gathered information on her. That part was very creepy, and made my skin crawl.  I think the flashbacks of him leading up to taking Ruth were important but everything else I could have done with out.  This is a YA but not one I’d let my middle grade reader read at this time. I really think the content is mature and for me a YA high school level read.

The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole

by Michelle Cuevas

A pet black hole can be your light in the darkest dark” {back cover}

This book was not like anything I was expecting it to be. I thought it would be a fun care free book about space and a pet black hole. However once I got into it I realized that it was actually a sad story about a little girl who was healing from her father’s unexpected and sudden death. They loved space and the launch of the Voyager in 1977. This is the second book I’ve read that has taken place in this time era this summer. I like that middle grade books are exploring this time. Stella has always wanted a dog so a pet black hole might not be so bad. However she very quickly learns they are bad they eat everything in sight and really love furry things. Stella takes the time to train Larry the black hole and it helps her get her mind of the painful memories of her dad. My middle grade reader and I decided that Stella had her own black hole and it was full of memories, pain and grief of losing her dad. She devises a sure-fire way to get over the pain and grief is to feed everything that was her dad’s to Larry the black hole. By doing so she erases those memories and she wants them back they are all she has left. Her and her little brother go on an amazing trip into the black hole. They go on this journey and are able to confront their fears, pain and heal in the process.

This book was such a great one even though it through me for a loop and was such a sad touching novel. Don’t let the cute little cover fool you though I would suggest this for 5th grade and up. Some younger elementary kids might be good with it however it does tackle some sad times. I just think the older reader would get more out of it and understand the physics and astronomy facts better. Overall this is a 5 star book and one I would suggest to readers looking for a book that will stay with them after they are done reading.

We decide this one needed a bit of a display for our bookshelves. So we created a cute Larry the pet black hole. Picture was taken outside since the lighting wasn’t good in room that has all our bookcases at the time. It was super easy to make just take a black bath poof and add google eyes or foam eyes and your done.

About the book: When eleven-year-old Stella Rodriguez shows up at NASA to request that her recording be included in Carl Sagan’s Golden Record, something unexpected happens: A black hole follows her home, and sets out to live in her house as a pet. The black hole swallows everything he touches, which is challenging to say the least—but also turns out to be a convenient way to get rid of those items that Stella doesn’t want around. Soon the ugly sweaters her aunt has made for her all disappear within the black hole, as does the smelly class hamster she’s taking care of, and most important, all the reminders of her dead father that are just too painful to have around.

It’s not until Stella, her younger brother, Cosmo, the family puppy, and even the bathroom tub all get swallowed up by the black hole that Stella comes to realize she has been letting her own grief consume her. And that’s not the only thing she realizes as she attempts to get back home. This is an astonishingly original and funny adventure with a great big heart.

Thank you so much Penguin Random House for sending us a copy of The Care and Feeding A Pet Black Hole. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

Thirteen Rising

by Romina Russell

Zodiac Series book 4

Thirteen Rising is the final installment in the wonderfully entertaining Zodiac series. I have loved this series and it is a series I will re-read now and again. The stories capture you and take you to a whole new world and the covers are so beautiful. This summer was a lot of fun doing the Zodiac Summer Read A Thon with my girls leading up to Thirteen Rising. If you haven’t read this series yet now is your chance. All four books are out as of today so grab them and binge read them this fall. They would also make a wonderful holiday gift for any middle grade or YA reading teen. Today I’m diving into the Zodiac world and can’t wait to see what is in store.

About the Book: Romina Russell’s epic sci-fi fantasy series reaches its breathtaking conclusion with this fourth and final novel.

The master has been unmasked. Rho’s world has been turned upside down. With her loved ones in peril and all the stars set against her, can the young Guardian from House Cancer muster the strength to keep fighting? Or has she finally found her match in a master whose ambition to rule knows no limits?

Thank you Penguin Young Readers for sending us the Zodiac Series. We have loved and enjoyed the Summer 2017 Read A Thon so much. All thoughts and opinions are our own and are not influenced by the free books.