“Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal”–Review

41okQLg0eoL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Why the title Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal?  Because each piece of prose is organized into classic subjects such as Social Studies, Music, and Language Arts.  Because textbook would accurately describe a book with a first-of-its-kind interactive text messaging component.  Because textbook is an expression meaning “quintessential”—Oh, that wordplay and unconventional format is so typical of her, so textbook AKR.  Because if an author’s previous book has the word encyclopedia in the title, following up with a textbook would be rather nice.

This is an interesting, humorous read, which I finished in three days.  It’s an insightful memoir of the author’s life, filled with random insights, memories, and moments.  Included are some drawings, charts, and diagrams.  In a way, I see this book as a diary.  In fact, it may have inspired some new writing ideas for me.  I’m happy for having the opportunity to read this book.

Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal will be available on August 9, 2016.  Feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

*I received this copy from Dutton Books, in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Amy Krouse Rosenthal writes for both adults and children.  She has written more than thirty children’s picture books, including Little Pea, Spoon, Exclamation Mark, Duck! Rabbit!, Uni the Unicorn, and I Wish You More.  Amy is a contributor to public radio, YouTube, and TED.  She resides digitally at whoisamy.com and for real in Chicago.

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“In America”–Review

51Yi1la3zHL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_Hello, all!  I just finished reading In America, the final installment of the Wayfarer Trilogy, by Nina Romano, so here’s my review.

This coming-of-age story introduces the beautiful Marcella Scimenti.  She’s headstrong, outspoken, and knows what she wants.  Oftentimes, she can be stubborn and drive her parents crazy.  She has the affection of a neighborhood boy and friend, Gianni Simoni, including the love of her large Italian family in 1920s Brooklyn.  Marcella also is a singer who aspires to one day have a singing career in Hollywood; however, a career in the performing arts is frowned upon by her parents.  Regardless of what anyone says, Marcella is determined to pursue her goals.

Throughout her journey, Marcella  learns to balance new friendships, new suitors, and her life in the working world with certain expectations of her tradition-bound family, all the while having to accept changes during the economic depression.  Just when she thinks things are starting to look up for her, Marcella learns of a devastating family secret, putting her to a test of loyalty, faith, and love. But can Marcella swallow her pride and see what’s been in front of her the whole time?

I’m happy to have had the opportunity to read this book.  I’d recently read Lemon Blossoms, which is the second book in the trilogy.  The first book is The Secret Language of Women.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to read that one (I couldn’t find it at my library).  Although the first two books should give you an idea of the stories and characters, I don’t think you’d have to read them in order.  Nevertheless, I did enjoy the stories.  It makes me want to see Italy, someday, as well as New York.  There also were particular Italian foods mentioned in the books, which sounded so tempting.  Aside from that, the characters were likable and the stories were beautiful, providing some advice to think about, in my opinion.

Feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

In America will be on sale July 19, 2016.

*I received this copy from Turner Publishing, in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Nina Romano earned an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from FIU.  She’sa world traveler and lover of history.  She lived in Rome, Italy, for 20 years, and is fluent in Italian and Spanish.  She authored a short story collection, The Other Side of the Gates, and has published five poetry collections and two poetry chapbooks.  Her most recent collection is Westward: Guided by Starfalls and Moonbows.  Romano has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize.  For more info, click here.

“Below: The Broken Sky Chronicles”–Review

3252No one but the dead dare venture Below…

The first volume in this trilogy begins with Hokk and his fox sidekick, Nym, who are living in exile in the barren prairies of Below.

Overhead Below are the floating islands of Above, where Elia lives an endless life of drudgery as a laundress for the Mirrored Palace.  For as long as she could remember, Elia has been told horror stories of Below, filled with scavengers and monsters waiting to grab anyone who dares to cross the islands’ borders.  Because of the stories, Elia does her best to avoid going near the borders.  But it all changes when natural disasters hit Above, gradually separating the islands, causing Elia to fall into Hokk’s world, in Below.

Hokk and Elia meet.  While currently serving his sentence in exile, Hokk decides he needs to make it back home, to the city, while Elia tries desperately to get back home to Above.  The two journey together to reach their destinations, but it becomes more complicated and dangerous than they’d thought.  No one can be trusted.  Meanwhile, Hokk and Elia are being followed, but for what purposes?

This is my second time reading sci-fi/fantasy and the story caught my interest, along the way.  Honestly, I’m curious to know what happens, so I await the next installment.  Any fans of sci-fi, I encourage you to read this book.  Feel free to post your comments.

Happy reading!

Below: The Broken Sky Chronicles, Book 1, by Jason Chabot, will be available on August 16, 2016.

*I received this Advance Reader Copy from Turner Publishing, in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Jason Chabot grew up in the outskirts of Chilliwack, B.C.  With his CA designation, he works as a financial controller in Vancouver.  For more info on the author, click here.

“Behind Closed Doors”–Review

51JkXh+jrWL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_The perfect marriage?  Or the perfect lie?

Jack and Grace Angel are the ideal married couple, living in a beautiful home in England.  Jack is a successful lawyer.  Grace is beautiful and charming.  She also prepares amazing meals and always manages to stay slim.  Others want to get to know Grace more, but how can it happen with Jack always at her side?  Although Grace doesn’t work, she never seems to have time to meet friends for coffee, or anything else, for that matter.  In fact, she never answers her phone.  And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?

Once they’re alone, Grace goes from loving, patient wife, to a life as Jack’s prisoner.  While he remains polite and charming toward others, Jack preys on Grace’s fears.  Although there isn’t a lot of physical abuse, Jack uses verbal abuse and threats to control Grace in their home and in public.  No matter how hard Grace plots her escape, Jack is always one step ahead of her.

I won’t give away too much, but I must say this story is as suspenseful as it is scary.  Grace thought she’d married the man of her dreams, only to soon discover her husband is a psychopath.  The thought that real people who are in these kind of situations is terrible.  The abuse in the story is awful, but I had to keep reading.  In fact, I’m still thinking about the conflict.  This book may not be for those who are emotionally sensitive to this genre, but I also won’t discourage anyone from reading it.

Behind Closed Doors will be available on August 9, 2016.  As always, feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

*I received this copy from St. Martin’s Press, in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: B.A. Paris grew up in England, but has spent most of her adult life in France.  She has worked both in finance and as a teacher.  She has five daughters.  Behind Closed Doors is her first novel.