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The Way to Remember Book Review

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Set in New England at the time of the American Bicentennial, The Way to Remember is the poignant story of a displaced young woman struggling to figure out who she is within the context of her hometown and the carefully masked dysfunction of her family.

About The Way to Remember

Set in New England at the time of the American Bicentennial, The Way to Remember is the poignant story of a displaced young woman struggling to figure out who she is within the context of her hometown and the carefully masked dysfunction of her family.

“Everything can be fixed by writing a check.” Words to live by for Robin Fortune’s wealthy father, until he can’t buy her way back into college after she’s expelled for dealing pot. Now he chooses not to speak to her anymore, but that’s just one of the out-of-whack situations Robin’s facing. At nineteen, she feels rudderless, working in a diner by day and sleeping with a buddy from high school by night – all so strange for her because she was always the one with the plan. While her college friends plotted how to ensnare husbands, she plotted a novel, which she scratched out into a series of spiral-bound notebooks she hides in the closet. But now, there’s nothing. No vision, no future, no point. In fact, the only thing she feels she has to look forward to is that her favorite author, Maryana Capture, is paying a visit to the local Thousand Words bookstore. Robin surmises that if she can convince Maryana to help her get her novel published, she’ll finally get herself back on track. Except that life never takes a straight path in this intensely satisfying coming-of-age novel.

My Thoughts

Robin, who has led a very privileged life, is very much like any other young woman (and man) in their early adult years. She craves freedom, and not the type of freedom that sees her friends moving from their family home into marriage but the type of freedom that sees her on her own, independent and self-reliant. One bad decision (or multiple bad decisions but only caught once), sees her expelled from college despite her Father attempting to use his own influence and wealth to see her remain there.

She returns to her hometown a bit battered but fighting. I loved how she refuses to return to the family home (although she still has a bit of her Father’s help) and instead decides to work as a waitress to support herself. She does this while dreaming of one day being a successful author as she continues to work on her very first novel. What follows is a whirlwind of events and people entering her life – some of whom are helpful, some of whom take advantage of her youth and trusting nature and a slew of life lessons for Robin (and those around her).

I loved watching Robin develop during this story. She is very much your typical young adult who is incredibly trusting and kind. She makes rash decisions and puts her trust in her others, who do not always have her best interests at heart. It was the ultimate betrayal by someone she respected, that really helped Robin open her eyes to the world around her and force her to take a stand. Robin learns so much about life, judging others, relationships and independence in this novel.

The Way to Remember was an excellent novel from start to finish. I loved the tone, the way it was written and the well developed characters. You will love reading this novel cuddled up under the covers with a hot cup of coffee this fall.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 4/5

About the Author

Martha Reynolds was raised in Rhode Island, spent a year of college in Switzerland, and is always planning a return visit. She completed an accomplished career as a fraud investigator and decided it was time to do something she really liked.

She now writes full-time and has set a personal goal of releasing a book a year until she dies. Her writing has appeared in Magnificat magazine and her very short poem was read by journalist Connie Schultz during NPR’s Tell Me More poetry challenge.

Her novel VILLA DEL SOL won the 2018 Book Award in Literary Fiction by the Independent Publishers of New England.

You can connect with her on her website, Twitter and Facebook.

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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These Nameless Things

Shawn Smucker is back with an unsettling story that asks us to consider two challenging questions: To what lengths will we go to assuage our own guilt? and Is there a limit to the things we will do for the people we love?

About These Nameless Things

Before Dan opened his door to find a wounded woman who had escaped from the tormentors in the mountain, his life had become rather quiet. He and the eight other people in the mostly abandoned town had become friends. They spent peaceful evenings around the campfire and even made vague plans to journey east one day and leave the ominous mountain behind.

But her arrival changes everything. 

Who is she? How does she know so much about Dan’s brother, who is still held captive in the mountain? Why are long-forgotten memories rising to the surface? And why does Dan feel so compelled to keep her presence in his house a secret?

My Thoughts

When I started reading These Nameless Things, I felt lost – what was the mountain? What had the members of this community endured? What and who would have tortured these people? And why?

The beginning of the story I found at times hard to follow as we are almost left in the dark (similar to how the characters appeared to be feeling). We are introduced to Dan who is living with other members of a community (for lack of better words) who have escaped something awful up in the mountains but what they experienced we do not quite find out – just that they endured torture and live in fear of returning. Dan is waiting for his brother to also find a way to escape the mountain and feels a tremendous amount of guilt that his brother is still in the mountain. All of the members of this community struggle with remembering their past and why they are waiting, but they know they must wait. Slowly, some of the members start to regain their memory and this is when I began to truly appreciate the story and how are characters are connected.

What follows is a slow unravelling of pain, guilt and the burden that these emotions carry in life. We learn how one bad decision caused a ripple affect in others lives and were torn apart. But we also see compassion, understanding and forgiveness. That sometimes we need to learn to forgive in order to move forward.

These Nameless Things is a powerful novel of pain, guilt and the power of forgiveness. Each character carried their own burden of pain, anger and guilt that centered around one awful decision. It is through forgiveness and compassion that they are able to move forward and release the pain of the past. This novel has an amazing plot, which was a bit harder to follow for the first bit but definitely worth it to keep reading and well developed characters. A definite must read novel!

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 4/5

About the Author

Shawn Smucker is the award-winning author of Light from Distant Stars, the young adult novels The Day the Angels Fell and The Edge of Over There, and the memoir Once We Were Strangers. He lives with his wife and six children in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. You can find him online at www.shawnsmucker.com.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Juan Has the Jitters

A story about inclusion, diversity, and the power of math to help one boy with autism thrive among his peers.

About Juan Has the Jitters

Juan claps his hands to get his Jitters out. They make his tummy swoosh and swirl. His Jitters happen when there are too many people, too much noise, or too many changes to his day. Juan doesn’t like surprises.

Tomorrow there is an athletic event planned at school, which makes Juan very nervous. But his teacher has the perfect solution: math–Juan’s favorite subject! Counting, sorting, and matching help Juan calm his Jitters. By making math part of the day’s athletic games, and by appointing Juan the official judge, his teacher can make sure that Juan will have fun and feel included. The class is calling it the Mathletic Games!

Our Thoughts

Juan Has the Jitters is a very special, important book for young readers, a book that they may find themselves relating to personally.

Juan is a bright young boy with autism. He loves math but some of the other subjects can make him nervous. One of these things that was making him nervous was an athletic event planned at school. Juan marked it on his calendar but it was causing him such stress in the days leading up to the event. He was experiencing jitters – the jitters affect his stomach and causes buzzing in his ears. Juan uses clapping to help him cope with this stress, which I can relate to – when I get nervous or feel overwhelmed I tap my fingers on tables and my toes on the ground as I find it helps to soothe me. His receptive teacher and kind classmates help him through the day by creating the Mathletic Games! Sorting, matching and racing events were played to ensure that Juan felt included and not overwhelmed at any time.

Juan Has the Jitters is a beautiful book that shows the power of inclusion and compassion. This made a huge impact on Juan and while he started the day clapping because of a few jitters by the end he was clapping in fun. He felt that he belongs, which every child should feel. Juan is a bright young boy who has so much to offer his classmates and this was highlighted in his judging skills and attention to detail throughout the event.

Juan Has the Jitters is a great resource for young children to explain the importance of inclusion, kindness and compassion. We all have differences and these should be celebrated. The illustrations are beautiful and match the theme of inclusiveness. This is a such an important topic for young children and this books open up conversations for you to have with your child.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

About the Author

ANETA CRUZ is a pre-K teacher and children’s book author. She holds a credential in early childhood special education, a BA in English literature, and an MFA in creative writing. When she’s not reading, writing, or eating Nutella by the spoonful, she teaches her class of preschoolers how to love books (and other things) as much as she does. She divides her time between the Czech Republic and Southern California, where she lives with her husband, two children, and Poe, the cutest ugly dog in the world.

MIKI YAMAMOTO has been drawing since a very early age, Most of her childhood was spent in her room sketching, coloring, and painting to entertain herself. She studied illustration at Cal State University, Long Beach and has worked for Hallmark Cards, Disney, and Amscan Party. Miki has won numerous awards as a children’s book illustrator. She resides in Southern California with her wigglebutt Aussie, Bella.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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The B on Your Thumb: 60 Poems to Boost Reading and Spelling

The B on Your Thumb is a book of 60 hilariously illustrated rhymes and delightful ditties to boost early reading—each poem teaches a specific sound, spelling, or rule.

About The B on Your Thumb: 60 Poems to Boost Reading and Spelling

The B on Your Thumb is a book of 60 illustrated rhymes to boost early reading—each poem teaches a specific sound, spelling, or rule. Using rhythm and wordplay, they promote phonics awareness, thinking skills, and literacy. This book delights young readers with the fun and silliness of the English language.

An introduction instructs grown-ups on how to use the book and extensive activities at the end allow children to build on their learning. Grouped into four categories—sounds, silent letters and secrets, spellings, and words that sound the same—the poems include:

  • See with Two Ees
  • The Story of Q and U
  • The Rain in the Train
  • Ridiculous Ph
  • Enough of Uff
  • Certainly a C
  • The Most ImportANT
  • Which Witch

Our Thoughts

Can we just be honest and say the English language has some of the most hardest rules to follow (silent letters, spellings, words that sound the same). It can be so difficult to explain the reasoning around this to children, because that is just the way it is. This book helps adults and children tackle these rules in a fun way.

This book starts with a very helpful introduction for adults. They teach you how to use this book and how to read it aloud. This made a world of a difference when reading with my child. I loved that they also encouraged you to be creative, read them out of order, and to not overdo it – read just a few rhymes at a time to help your child absorb what they are learning. The note to children made me giggle (please be patient with us adults because we too make mistakes!).

I loved the rhymes, they made it so much easier to be silly and take a somewhat hard topic to teach and make it fun. We even sang a few and had a few good laughs (oi, oi, oi!!). The illustrations are perfect for young readers and match the tone of the book, fun and engaging.

The B on Your Thumb is a fun, engaging book that will make you laugh while learning.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

About the Author

Colette Hiller is a writer, arts producer, and mother of twins. Her arts projects have reached hundreds of thousands of participants—she is the woman who put pianos and ping-pong tables in countless locations across the UK, and is also the mind behind the hit Talking Statues project.

Her children’s rhymes have been featured on BBC Words and Pictures and her children’s LP, Applehead, has been a hit with kids across the world, selling over 50,000 copies. An advocate of early learning, Colette believes that even very young children are receptive to the joy of wordplay (she taught her own twins to read by the time they were three).

Tor Freeman is a London-based illustrator. In 2012 she was awarded the Sendak Fellowship. In 2017 she won the Guardian Graphic Short Story Prize. Her books include the Digby Dog and Olive series.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book to facilitate this review, all opinions expressed are my own.

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An Appalachian Summer Book Review

Bestselling author Ann H. Gabhart invites you into the hills of Eastern Kentucky to discover what happens when one young woman steps away from the restrictive past into a beautiful, wide-open future.

About An Appalachian Summer

In 1933 Louisville, Kentucky, even the ongoing economic depression cannot keep Piper Danson’s parents from insisting on a debut party. After all, their fortune came through the market crash intact, and they have picked out the perfect suitor for their daughter. Braxton Crandall can give her the kind of life that she is used to. The only problem? This is not the man, or the life, that she really wants.

When Piper receives the opportunity to volunteer as a horseback Frontier Nursing courier in the Appalachian Mountains for the summer, she jumps at the chance to be something other than a dutiful daughter or a kept wife in a loveless marriage. The work is taxing, the scenery jaw-droppingly gorgeous, and the people she meets along the way open up a whole new world to her. The longer she stays, the more an advantageous marriage slips further from her grasp. But something much more precious–true love–is drawing ever closer.

My Thoughts

I fell in love with the characters, the setting and the plot of this amazing novel. Piper is a young woman determined to find her own way in life, despite her parents attempting to push her into the life that society deems that she should live.

Piper was born into a privileged lifestyle and she comes of age in the backdrop of the Great Depression. Her father has arranged a marriage for her with a suitor that could give her the life that he feels she deserves – a life of wealth and never wanting for anything. But she is so conflicted inside with many different emotions, the man that she has loved her whole life appears to have abandoned her, she feels a need inside of her to do more, to be more than just a wife and Mother. She jumps on the opportunity to volunteer as a Nursing courier in the Appalachian Mountains for the summer before making a final decision on her future. It is in this moment that she takes hold of her destiny.

Piper learns about a whole new world in the mountains, she learns her own strength, her own skills and what she really wants and needs in her life. She finds the strength inside her to chase her dreams (and her heart) regardless of what her parents feel and what society expects from her. She learns she has the strength to help others, as she witnesses the miracles of child birth, caring for others and the animals around her.

An Appalachian Summer is an excellent novel from start to finish. It is full of hope, faith, love and following your dreams. You will love every moment of reading this novel.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

Ann H. Gabhart is the bestselling author of several Shaker novels–The RefugeThe OutsiderThe BelieverThe SeekerThe Blessed, and The Gifted–as well as other historical novels, including Angel SisterThese Healing HillsRiver to Redemption, and An Appalachian Summer. She and her husband live on a farm a mile from where she was born in rural Kentucky. Ann enjoys discovering the everyday wonders of nature while hiking in her farm’s fields and woods with her grandchildren and her dogs, Frankie and Marley.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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