☕ Book Break ☕ |~I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter~

 

~I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter~ “All These years I’d thought being a spy was challenging. Turns out, being a girl is the tricky part.”
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This young adult novel by Ally Carter is absolutely wonderful. .
Cammi Morgan attends an exclusive private school. In fact, it’s so exclusive only certain people are allowed to attend. The students of the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women is a training facility for spies. The future of America depends on them. To complicate matters, Cammi’s mom, a former spy herself, runs the school.
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Cammi is a genius, fluent in multiple languages, and knows how to blend in. She can crack codes and kill a man with her bare hands. She has no idea what do do when she meets an ordinary boy. .
I’d Tell You I love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You made me smile and laugh. This is the first in the Galligher Girls series by Ally Carter. Fun book. A light easy read.

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☕ Book Break ☕ |Finding Hero by Diana L. Sharples

~Finding Hero by Diana L. Sharples~

Finding Hero is a young adult mystery, but rather than a straightforward whodunit, the characters each have their own story. I first read Diana Sharples’ work with her book, Running Lean, a story about a girl with an eating disorder. All of Diana Sharples’ characters in Finding Hero encounter problems other than simply solving a mystery. She writes a complex story.

Finding Hero is a multi layered tale involving teenage life, complicated family history, and a mystery from the past that could have severe consequences for Daniela and Devon. A storm wreaks havoc in their lives, not the least of which is uncovering a long buried body.

I like this new book. When I first downloaded it and saw all those little dots I thought it was on the long side, but as I was listening it did not seem long at all. It’s hard for a book to keep my interest when I listen to it on kindle, but Finding Hero did. I was hooked from the beginning.

I’ve been a sucker for Shakespeare since I first encountered The Bard, so when the book opens it with the character Daniella Cooper auditioning for a part in Much Ado About Nothing my antenna went up. If you’re not a Shakespeare fan the title is referring to a character in the play. You don’t have to be into Shakespeare to enjoy this book, by the way.

The only thing I did not like in this book was the behavior of some of the adult characters. I found myself getting angry at the failure of the grownups, but I understand that that was intentional. They just made me mad! However, simply having a child does not make one a mature adult. These characters reflect true people and the behaviors and obstacles encountered in real life. .
Finding Hero is a clean read. All of Diana Sharples books that I’ve read are, but this one is actually published by clean reads.

I received an advanced copy of this book and was asked for an honest review.

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☕ Book Break ☕ |~After Anna by Lisa Scottoline~

~After Anna by Lisa Scottoline~
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Anther winner by Lisa Scottoline. This one had me on the edge of my seat. I so wanted to cheat and read what happened in the end, but I resisted. It was hard!

Maggie has a happy life. She is married to Dr. Noah Alderman, and is stepmother to his son. Her life is almost perfect, except she longs for Anna, her teenage daughter. She hasn’t seen Anna since she was an infant.

When her ex-husband dies, she gets a phone call. She will have a second chance to be a mother to Anna. Finally, her heart’s desire, to have Anna back in her life, is becoming a reality.

Thrilled to be reunited with her daughter she ignores all the warning signs.

Then Anna is murdered and Noah is charged.

This novel is a page turner. If it weren’t fiction, I think I’d feel guilty for being so enthralled with the unraveling of this family’s lives! The writing is superb. Enthralling plot. .
An unexpected twist at the end totally surprised me, even though it fit perfectly. This may be my favorite Lisa Scottoline novel thus far, although I do like all of her books that I have read.

Fans will not be disappointed. If you’re looking for well written suspense, you should check this book out.

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☕ Book Break ☕ |~Whisper Me This by Kerry Anne King~

~Whisper Me This by Kerry Anne King~

Maisey is a single mother who has spent her life in a series of dead end jobs, forever remaining a disappointment to her overbearing mother. The only thing Maisey has ever done right is her daughter, Elle.

Maisey receives a call from the police who are st her parent’s home. Her mother is unconscious and her father is under suspicion and behaving erratically. .
She travels to her parents’ home, bringing her daughter with her. They arrive to find her father burning papers. Maisey has to deal with her father’s dementia, her mother’s illness and along the way discovers her childhood imaginary friend was actually her sister. She is determined to find her.

This book is a multilayered story about abuse and domestic violence. High interest, good writing, and a satisfying ending. It is a story about breaking free from the cycle of abuse. Some losses can never be recovered and some wrongs never made right. The women in the story do not come out without scars, the novel ends on a note of empowerment. Recommended.

I choose this book as my selection from July’s Amazon First Reads.

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☕ Book Break ☕ |Damaged by Lisa Scottine

Shy and dyslexic, ten year old Patrick O’Brien is a target for bullies. He is sexually assaulted by an aide at his school, an incident that comes to light when the aide  sues Patrick and the school district, claiming the child attacked him.  Patrick’s grandfather, his only family, hires lawyer Mary DiNunzio.

Damaged is a legal thriller, one of a series. This author was new to me, and even though I read this book out of order, I had no difficulty following the storyline. The novel has just the right amount of backstory, weaving in the main character’s personal story arc along with the main plot of Patrick’s story.

The young boy’s situation tugs at the heart, and there are plenty of smaller mysteries  to unravel as the novel progresses. Twists and turns kept me reading, and I was surprised by the final “whodunnit” revelation. All the questions brought up in the story are tied up to conclude with a satisfactory ending.

I listened to the audiobook read by Rebecca Lowman and appreciated her performance.

I plan to check out more of this series. All in all, a good, solid legal thriller/mystery. Recommended.

Minor language, subject matter of abuse of special needs child, death of grandparent, violence (not graphic)

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Book Review|Free to Fall by Lauren Miller

Set in 2030, Free to Fall by Lauren Miller is a young adult dystopian novel in which “The Doubt”, a small inner voice, is labeled as mental illness and medicated away in those who cannot ignore it. In this world, nearly everyone has an app on their phone called Lux. Lux keeps track of all data and helps the user with every decision, major to minor. This setting is ripe for the unfolding tale of high tech social engineering.

Sixteen year old Aurora “Rory” Vaughn is accepted to Theden Academy, an exclusive college prep boarding school. Rory and her friends are addicted to social media, selfies, and coffee. 

The characters struggle with the typical teen issues ranging from dieting to dating, as well as the school work load you would expect at a private prep school. Secret societies, teen angst, conspiracies, mysteries, betrayal, and romance keep the action flowing while the characters grapple with moral questions brought up in Free to Fall. I liked the allusions and themes from The Bible and Paradise Lost woven throughout.

The first time I read Free to Fall, I was stuck by the eerie parallel of current social behaviors and the technological advances we have made that make this imagined world a little too plausible for comfort.

Highly recommended for teens and up. This is an excellent book for discussion.

Some language, kissing, intimacy and heavy petting (not graphic), secret society, simulated death and violence, mind control, drinking, death of parents

Click here for a discussion guide for Free to Fall with Bible verse references from Embracing the Detour.

Visit Lauren Miller’s author website here. 

Watch the trailer for Free to Fall.

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Book Review|Invisible: An Ivy Malone Mystery by Lorena McCourtney

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Invisible: An Ivy Malone Mystery #1

By Lorena McCourtney

Invisible by Lorena McCourtney follows our possum grey haired heroine through various situations. Ivy Malone attempts to solve what started out as a simple vandalism mystery that turns out to big much bigger crimes. Ivy is a LOL (Little Old Lady) with more than a touch of curiosity and humor. She also had a tendency to get herself into scrapes.

When Ivy realizes that she is often overlooked to the point of feeling invisible, she decides that may not always be a bad thing. Invisibility is a boon when making observations and getting into places unnoticed. I loved this character. Ivy is one smart lady, but she does not take herself too seriously.

This is an inspirational cozy and the main character’s Christianity flows naturally. Ivy has some encouraging and comforting advise about life in various parts of the story that fit with the character and situation.

If you are looking for a light summer mystery with doses of Christian encouragement occurring throughout,  Invisible: An Ivy Malone Mystery #1 may be one for you.

Invisible is one of my favorite inspirational cozy mysteries. I snagged this one as a free kindle copy a while back and liked it enough to buy the next two books in the series.

A new book in the Ivy Malone series, Go Ivy, Go! An Ivy Malone Mystery #5 was released on May 27th, 2015. It is available for kindle and nook.

Author Lorena McCourtney’s Website

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Book Review |Greenglass House

Greenglass House Kate MilfordGreenglass House by Kate Milford

“There is a right way to do things and a wrong way, if you’re going to run a hotel in a smugglers’ town.”

Greenglass House, also known as a smuggler’s inn to certain people, is run by Milo Pine’s parents. The inn is also their home.

Milo is on Christmas vacation from school. Greenglass House is always empty at this time of year, which is not the busy season for their typical clientele. As a variety of unforeseen guests begin to arrive, it becomes evident that this will not be the usual Christmas season. Why are all of these people gathering at Greenglass House?

Smugglers, mystery, and even a ghost add up to make an adventure for Milo.

I felt the characters were very well developed and the story line was intriguing. I could relate to Milo right away when he had difficulty with the change of plans with Christmas vacation being thrown into upheaval! The story is engaging. There are even stories within the story, something I have a particular fondness for.

Milo does engage in a role playing game called Odd Trails, and pretends to be a brave adventurer to solve thefts and search out answers. Along the way he learns about himself.

If your children enjoy a mystery or adventure type story they may like reading Greenglass House.

The theme of adoption and Milo’s feelings about being different are an important element in the story. Adopted as an infant, Milo is of Chinese decent and is bothered by feelings of being different from his parents. There are many questions he turns over in his mind related to being adopted. One of the things that I liked about this book was the strong sense of family and the care shown between Milo and his parents.

This book is geared to ages 10-12

Issues that may be of concern to some are role playing games and mention of ghosts. These are in keeping with the fantasy element.

SPOILER

Milo befriends a girl who, near the end of the book,  is revealed to be a ghost. There are some paranormal elements, notably the little girl ghost becoming large and intimidating the agent who caused her father’s death and is now threatening the current inhabitants of Greenglass House.

Themes and Issues

Adoption, Ghosts, Smugglers, Thievery, Fantasy, Role Playing, Spying

You can read the first chapter here.

Kate Milford’s Author Website

 

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Book Review | The Adoration of Jenna Fox

The Adoration of Jenna Fox (The Jenna Fox Chronicles Book 1)

by Mary Pearson

“Faith and science, I have learned, are two sides of the same coin, separated by an expanse so small, but wide enough that one side can’t see the other. They don’t know they are connected.” 

“I used to be someone. Someone named Jenna Fox.”

Seventeen year old Jenna Fox awakens from a coma with no memory of the accident that put her there, or of her family. She did not wake in a hospital, but in an unfamiliar house, but then everything is unfamiliar. Struggling to relearn how to speak, think, and function, Jenna starts to recover in a strange setting.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox is book one in a trilogy.

The story is interesting, easy to follow and well written. Jenna’s confusion came through without being confusing to the reader. The story is steeped in secrets that unravel as time goes on. And these secrets are horrifying in true medical mystery, dystopian fashion.

I enjoy novels that make you think, and this is one that does. This book is good for discussion of many issues. The characters were believable and relatable. I felt the conclusion was satisfying.

SPOILERS

Jenna is horrified when she learns that her body is non-human, primarily made up of blue bio-gel, a substance her father invented. Ten percent of her brain is all that is left of the original Jenna.

After a terrible accident, Jenna’s parents could not let her go and devised a way to ‘download’ her mind into a static environment while they prepared a body. From Jenna’s point of view, this waiting environment is described as a dark, empty place where no one could hear her screams.

“Awareness
There is a dark place.
A place where I have no eyes, no mouth. No words.
I can’t cry out because I have no breath. The silence is so deep I want to die.
But I can’t.
The darkness and silence go on forever.
It is not a dream.
I don’t dream.”

Because of the extreme medical intervention her parents have undertaken, Jenna’s existence is ‘illegal’ and oversteps regulated medical limits.

In one part of the story, Jenna crosses into an area at a chapel she is not allowed. She also kisses a boy in the chapel, and the boy says a ‘bad word’ in the same scene. Jenna wonders if these things are ‘marks against’ her.

Jenna discovers her parents have kept the minds of her two friends who died in the accident and an additional backup Jenna in environments. The idea of keeping someone’s mind alive and actively trapped while their body is gone plays well on the fear most of us have of being trapped, unable to communicate our pain and distress.

If she is ever faced with charges stemming from the car accident, Jenna may need her friends to testify as witnesses to her innocence. This is why her parents have secretly procured their uploaded minds. Now Jenna must decide whether or not to let them go by destroying these ‘mind downloads’ and how to get into the locked room where they are kept.

There are religious themes throughout, with mentions of the grandmother genuflecting, Holy water, baptism and prayer.

Profanity/Sex/Violence

Several expletives typical of teens. In one scene Jenna uses a word she heard at school not knowing what it means.

Kissing between Jenna and a boy

Car accident, being burned in the accident, deaths as a result of accident, Jenna purposefully breaks dishes to see if she can override her parent’s commands, Jenna is accosted in the woods by a male classmate and fights back by grabbing his privates

Mature Themes and Issues

Definition of the Human Soul, Medical Ethics, Moral Limits of Medical Intervention, Quality of Life, Medical Decision Rights, Perfectionism, Searching for Self

In an interview, Mary Pearson said the seeds of this book were planted by the question of how far would a parent go to save their child.

I listened to the audiobook read by Jenna Lamia. It was well done and easy to listen to.

 

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Book Review|The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

Book Review | The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

by Alan Bradley

“As I stood outside in Cow Lane, it occurred to me that Heaven must be a place where the library is open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

No … eight days a week.”

Unusually precocious eleven-year-old Flavia is the youngest of three sisters and entertains herself by pursing her passion, Chemistry. Her specially is poisons.

“If there is a thing I truly despise, it is being addressed as “dearie.” When I write my magnum opus, A Treatise Upon All Poison, and come to “Cyanide,” I am going to put under “Uses” the phrase “Particularly efficacious in the cure of those who call one ‘Dearie.” 

Set in the English countryside, 1950, the story plunges us into mystery, murder, that is.

Flavia is not one to ignore an interesting possibility. A dead Jacksnipe is found at the kitchen door, apparently a secret message to her father.  On a following day, in pre-dawn hours, Flavia goes down to the garden and finds a body amongst the cucumber plants. Before expiring, the victim whispers vale. Latin for goodbye.

“I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn’t. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.” 

And so begins Flavia’s quest to pursue the solution to this mystery that has been dropped at her doorstep, so to speak. Twists, turns and raising of stakes propel us along with Flavia as she searches for answers and takes it upon herself to save the day and her father, who has been charged with murder.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is a delightful read. Clever Flavia is thoroughly entertaining. Not a deep, thought provoking read, but excellent light-hearted fun.

Flavia does occasionally express herself with colorful language.

Recommended.

I listened to the audio book version read by Jayne Entwistle and I believe her performance may have added a bit to my enjoyment. She’s a very good reader.

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