An Excellent Cupcake:

Peanuts Gift Pack Giveaway!

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THE PEANUTS GANG: BOOK ‘EM THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

IN CELEBRATION OF 50 YEARS ON TV FOR A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS

 

Hard as it is to believe, but this year marks the 50th annual airing of A Charlie Brown Christmas!

To celebrate the occasion, ABC will air the special twice: Tuesday, December 2 at 8:30PM ET/PT and Tuesday, December 16 at 8:00PM ET/PT.  Meanwhile, Peanuts Worldwide is offering a host of great holiday books guaranteed to get you in the mood for the big television anniversary.

GIFT SET #1:

A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS: THE MAKING OF A TRADITION

This lushly illustrated tribute to the television classic takes readers behind-the-scenes of the Peanuts holiday special. Including the script of A Charlie Brown Christmas, more than 200 full-color pieces of original animation art, Vince Guaraldi’s original score, and a look at the making of feature from producer Lee Mendelson and original animator, the late Bill Melendez, fans of Charles M. Schulz, the Peanuts gang, and A Charlie Brown Christmas will treasure this beautiful keepsake volume for years to come.

Available at amazon.com and major book stores nationwide for $19.99.

My Review:

I grew up watching Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang.  I especially love the cartoon, A Charlie Brown Christmas!  So, this is a real treat for my blog to offer you so many great books to read, buy, and possibly win!  This book is the perfect gift for someone who grew up watching the Christmas movie!  With attention to detail, skits, sketches, and dialogue from the actual movie, the Peanuts fan will love this book!  It’s very well made and gives a behind the scenes look to the movie!

BE JOYFUL BOOK

This charming little book filled with Peanuts inspirational wisdom is the perfect stocking stuffer! The book highlights the simple joys of friends, life and goodwill through a collection of heart-warming quotes and illustrations from the Peanuts classic comics.  Available at amazon.com or wherever books are sold for $7.95.

My Review:

This is definitely the perfect gift for someone who loves to read little quotes from the Peanuts gang!  It’s quite colorful with simple quotes from your favorite characters, that will definitely make you smile and feel a bit nostalgic, too!

 

GIFT SET #2:

PEANUTS: A SCANIMATION BOOK BY RUFUS BUTLER SEDER

Charlie Brown and the football, Snoopy’s happy dance, Schroeder at his toy piano—cherished characters and iconic moments come to life through the magic of Scanimation.  Created by Rufus Butler Seder, an inventor, artist, and filmmaker fascinated by antique optical toys, Scanimation is a state-of-the-art six-phase animation process that combines the “persistence of vision” principle with a striped acetate overlay to give the illusion of movement. It harkens back to the old magical days of the kinetoscope, and the effect is astonishing, like a video without a screen. It is Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts—funny and wise and beloved, forever a part of our lives—like you’ve never seen before. Available for $14.95 at workman.com, amazon.com, Powell’s Books, Barnes and Noble, and independent book stores nationwide.

My Review:

This is the kind of book that any little reader will love!  The scanimation design is pre-electronics, but still is just as entertaining.  With a little storyline, each page has the scanimation that gives movement to each character and scene.  It’s a hard book that is a great size for small hands.  It’s a book that will be a great introduction in to the Peanuts gang, which will be a childhood favorite for your own little one, too!

BEST FRIENDS PLAY-A-SOUND BOOK AND CUDDLY SNOOPY

This play-a-sound book comes with its own adorable mini-Snoopy plush—essentially making it two gifts for the price of one! Aimed at the toddler on your list, the book spotlights the topic of best friends from the Peanuts point-of-view and features three buttons that highlight a different sound from the story when you press them. Available for $11.99 at Toys R Us or wherever books are sold.

My Review:

Any little child will love this book!  With coordinating buttons to cue each page, your little reader will love to hear the sounds form the Peanuts Gang!  Along with a plush, stuffed Snoopy, this will be a great treat for little ones!  The book is small enough for little hands, hard pages to prevent bending and tearing, and the sounds really encourage the reader to look for sight words and press the button to hear the sounds.  This is an excellent book that will make a great gift for any occasion!

 

 

GIFT SET #3:

GOOD GRIEF, IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY!

The Peanuts gang believes in “growing up without growing old” and that’s the message behind this hilarious book filled with famous celebrity quotes paired with artwork from the classic Peanuts comic strip. Among the celebrities quoted are George Burns, Mae West, Audrey Hepburn, and of course, Charles M. Schulz himself! Perfect for anyone on your list celebrating a birthday in December and beyond. Available at Target or wherever books are sold for $9.66.

My Review:

This book is perfect for any person, as you celebrate that special birthday! I love the quotes that correspond with each Peanuts character.  Each quote makes you smile, laugh, reminisce, and will definitely make a great birthday gift for a loved one!

CLASSIC PEANUTS PAINT-BY-NUMBER KIT

For the budding artist, The Classic Peanuts Paint-by-Number Kit provides everything you need to make five paintings of iconic Peanuts moments.  From a group shot of Charlie Brown and the gang to Snoopy as Joe Cool, bring the charm and nostalgia of the classic comic to the canvas. Inside the box, you’ll find five paint-by-number canvases and stands, 10 acrylic paints, paintbrush, and a book exploring the comic’s great moments. Available for $15.25 at Barnes and Noble or wherever books are sold.

My Review:

This is the gift that is perfect for any person that loves to paint!  I was quite impressed with the quality of the paper, which has numbers corresponding with the paints.  Of course, any artist can deviate from the suggestions!  I also love the little book enclosed!  This makes a great gift for the artist in your life!  After each page is painted, the hard back pictures can easily be framed!

Overall Thoughts:

We all love Snoopy and the Peanuts Gang, especially if you are child of the 80’s/90’s.  However, this is a fantastic way to introduce your beloved cartoon characters to your own children, grandchildren, friends, students, etc.  Books in the Burbs is quite excited to introduce these fantastic gift ideas, as well as offer a few giveaways!

Giveaway Details:

US entries only.

When you fill out the form, your information doesn’t appear on my blog.  It is sent to me directly.  The 3 winners chosen will have their addresses sent directly to the publisher, who will mail the gift sets directly.

Giveaway ends December 18, 2014.

 

Review & Giveaway: Addie B. Strong: Dream Big by Alyson Flippo and Kathleen Murphy Willer

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Series: Addie B. Strong (Book 2)

Hardcover: 28 pages

Publisher: B-Strong, LLC

Publication Date:  September 1, 2014

 

Synopsis:

Join Addie B. Strong in her second adventure, Addie B. Strong – Dream Big. Little Addie has a big dream, but it is much more work than she thought it would be. Meet Addie’s cousin, Collin B. Kind, whose wisdom and kindnesshelps to remind Addie of her forgotten strength. As Addie works her way through the not-so-simple task of reaching for the stars, she discovers once again the magic of the strength that lies inside of her. Follow Addie on her quest as she continues her journey and discover that you too can Dream Big.”

My Review:

Back in October, 2014, I reviewed Addie B. Strong: I Am Strong.  I have been given the opportunity to review the second book in the series, and this book didn’t disappoint!

This is the second book in the series for Addie B. Strong.  The book is large, with glossy pages, which are perfect for small hands and their attention spans.  Each page can tell a story based on the dress and scenes that Addie finds herself in.  With messages of self-empowerment, never giving up, and reaching out to others, this a book that many children will love and identify with.  Parents and educators will love the message this book offers to young children, because it teaches children to not limit themselves, rather to always reach high for the stars.  While the story is simple, the message is clear, and the illustrations are clean and crisp, it’s a book that children up to age 7/8 will enjoy.  The rhyming words help with speech and fluctuation, as well as help kids stay interested in the storyline because it’s not overloaded with too many words or cluttered with too many images.  Overall, an excellent book!

excellent cupcake 5

Connect with the Authors and Addie B. Strong:

Facebook

The Author, Alyson Flippo

Twitter

Giveaway

Giveaway Details:

The publisher has graciously offered both books: Addie B. Strong: I Am Strong & Dream Big!

Only 1 winner will win both books!

Giveaway ends December 22, 2014.

Winner will have 24 hours to respond to the email.  If a reply isn’t given, another winner will be chosen.  The winner’s email and address will be sent to the publisher, who will mail the gift set.

First to Read: The Look of Love by Sarah Jio

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Title:  The Look of Love

Author:  Sarah Jio

Published by: Penguin/Plume Books on November 25th, 2014

Pages: 320

Genres:  Women’s fiction, Contemporary/Literary Fiction

Format:  ARC

Synopsis:

Born during a Christmas blizzard, Jane Williams receives a rare gift: the ability to see true love. Jane has emerged from an ailing childhood a lonely, hopeless romantic when, on her twenty-ninth birthday, a mysterious greeting card arrives, specifying that Jane must identify the six types of love before the full moon following her thirtieth birthday, or face grave consequences. When Jane falls for a science writer who doesn’t believe in love, she fears that her fate is sealed. Inspired by the classic song, The Look of Love is utterly enchanting.

My Review:

No lie.  I read this book in ONE day!  Perhaps it’s because I have been sick and am confined to my chair, but a bigger part of the reason is because I just couldn’t stop reading!  I absolutely love this book.  It’s charming, very magical, and the story moves along rather nicely.  The book doesn’t dive too deep into issues, but gives a nice overview of each character so that the reader can connect with each one.

Now, I need to add this bit of disclosure:  If you or anyone you know is experiencing headaches, black-outs, fuzzy views, etc…see your doctor and follow protocol!  This is just a story!! It’s not real.

Jane sees fuzzies, gets headaches, and experiences head pain.  Against her neurologist’s orders, she decides to heed the advice given to her by a woman, who also “the gift”, and has passed it on to her.  Jane has never experienced love, and in order for her to find love, she must first identify 6 different types of love and identify the couple’s matching those descriptions.  She has been given 1 year to do this task or risk never experiencing true love.

Jane is the shop owner of a local florist and loves the language of flowers.  Each flower has a meaning and sees how flowers communicate emotion to others.  Her shop assistant, Lo, has her own love challenge, as do some of Jane’s other friends and acquaintances.  Jane begins to see her gift as a powerful tool, rather than a nuisance, and sees how people love differently.  From broken marriages, broken promises, and heartache, Jane sees the power of love and how love is experienced differently.

It’s a charming book, moves rather quickly despite the many characters introduced, and will have you guessing what happens to each couple.  The only issue I have is that the book cover doesn’t fit the storyline.  I imagine Jane looking different, or perhaps it’s Elodia (the first person to have been given the gift of seeing love).  Either way, it’s a great book and will be a wonderful gift idea for the holidays!

excellent cupcake 5

*A huge thank you to First to Read for giving me the opportunity to read and review the book.  No forms of compensation were given.

TLC Book Tour: Us by David Nicholls

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Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Harper (October 28, 2014)

Synopsis:

David Nicholls brings the wit and intelligence that graced his enormously popular New York Times bestseller, One Day, to a compellingly human, deftly funny new novel about what holds marriages and families together—and what happens, and what we learn about ourselves, when everything threatens to fall apart.

Douglas Petersen may be mild-mannered, but behind his reserve lies a sense of humor that, against all odds, seduces beautiful Connie into a second date . . . and eventually into marriage. Now, almost three decades after their relationship first blossomed in London, they live more or less happily in the suburbs with their moody seventeen year-old son, Albie. Then Connie tells him she thinks she wants a divorce.

The timing couldn’t be worse. Hoping to encourage her son’s artistic interests, Connie has planned a month-long tour of European capitals, a chance to experience the world’s greatest works of art as a family, and she can’t bring herself to cancel. And maybe going ahead with the original plan is for the best anyway? Douglas is privately convinced that this landmark trip will rekindle the romance in the marriage, and might even help him to bond with Albie.

Narrated from Douglas’s endearingly honest, slyly witty, and at times achingly optimistic point of view, Us is the story of a man trying to rescue his relationship with the woman he loves, and learning how to get closer to a son who’s always felt like a stranger. Us is a moving meditation on the demands of marriage and parenthood, the regrets of abandoning youth for middle age, and the intricate relationship between the heart and the head. And in David Nicholls’s gifted hands, Douglas’s odyssey brings Europe—from the streets of Amsterdam to the famed museums of Paris, from the cafés of Venice to the beaches of Barcelona—to vivid life just as he experiences a powerful awakening of his own. Will this summer be his last as a husband, or the moment when he turns his marriage, and maybe even his whole life, around?

My Review:

I was drawn into this book immediately. Within the first few pages, Connie tells Douglas that she feels the marriage has run its course and wants a divorce.  Bam!!  Twenty years of marriage thrown away, or so it seems from Douglas’ point of view.  Douglas goes back in time to describe how he first met Connie, what his life is like, and what he hopes to accomplish while he and his family trek across Europe. Connie wants to have this last trip as a family, to experience “firsts” with Albie and have him have the trip of his life.  Douglas wants to use this time to save his marriage and draw closer to Albie.  However, this trip has plans of its own, which helps both of them to discover important truths along the way and helps bring them closer as a family.

Douglas shares about his biochemist life and the work he does…even about a fruit fly.  The fruit fly has an interesting lifespan and purpose, which is analogous to the relationship between Douglas and Connie.  It’s interesting that when the fruit fly’s life cycle ends, it is replaced with another fruit fly.  Yet, Douglas never sees the correlation between his marriage and that of the fruit fly.  Prior to Connie’s shocking statement about wanting to move on because their relationship has run its course, Douglas never anticipates that this can happen to his own marriage, like that of the fruit fly’s lifespan.  Douglas is traditional and predictable within his marriage:  he goes to work, provides for the family, is dependable, is trustworthy, and expects to grown old and die together (he and his wife).

Connie has focused her attention on their son, Albie, through the course of their marriage.  Prior to the marriage, Connie was unpredictable and has found herself in a rut.  She has given her all to the marriage, but wants more now that Albie is graduating and moving on, too.  She wants to discover herself again, embark on adventures, and experience life in a way she feels the marriage hasn’t allowed her to.

As they all go on this trip, Connie and Douglas have different goals for this trip.  Douglas wants to save his marriage and grow closer to Albie.  Connie wants to have one last hurrah with them and give Albie a fun trip.  Connie and Douglas both gain better perspectives on themselves, their relationship, and their father/mother role with Albie.  Douglas also sees that despite marriage or divorce, the terms themselves aren’t what defines their relationships; it is their own ability to move themselves and truly seek satisfying relationships with one another and being present.  They also realize that whatever the outcome, they will forever be tied together and be a family, despite any titles they have (husband/wife, mother/father/son, etc).

This is a sad tale, while there are moments of joy sprinkled throughout.  It’s a book that many will enjoy because of the in depth look into marriage and of a couple who really are different, yet balance each other in ways they don’t even realize.  It’s a book that will challenge reader’s own views on marriage and divorce and bring greater appreciation to living in the moment, while always planning ahead.

This is a great book for book club discussions!  Overall, an excellent book!

excellent cupcake 5

 

*This book was provided by TLC Book Tours and the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.  No forms of compensation were given.

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About David Nicholls

David Nicholls’s most recent novel, the New York Times bestseller One Day, has sold over 2 million copies and been translated into thirty-seven languages; he also wrote the screenplay for the 2010 film adaptation starring Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway. Trained as an actor before making the switch to writing, Nicholls’s previous novels include Starter for Ten (originally published in the U.S. as A Question of Attraction), adapted into a film starring James McAvoy, for which Nicholls also wrote the screenplay; and The Understudy. He continues to write for film and TV as well as writing novels and adapting them for the screen, and has twice been nominated for the BAFTA awards. He lives in London with his wife and two children.

Find out more about David at his website and connect with him on Facebook.

David’s Tour Stops

Monday, October 6th: The Daily Dosage

Tuesday, October 7th: nomadreader

Wednesday, October 8th: From L.A. to LA

Thursday, October 9th: Spiced Latte Reads

Monday, October 13th: BookNAround

Tuesday, October 14th: Bibliosue

Friday, October 17th: 5 Minutes For Books

Monday, October 20th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, October 21st:  A Bookish Way of Life

Wednesday, October 22nd: Vox Libris

Thursday, October 23rd: The Scarlet letter

Monday October 27th: Read. Write. Repeat.

Tuesday, October 28th: Lavish Bookshelf

Wednesday, October 29th: nightlyreading

Thursday, October 30th: Always With a Book

Monday, November 3rd: Alison’s Book Marks

Monday, November 3rd: Drey’s Library

Wednesday, November 5th: More Than Just Magic

Thursday, November 6th: Walking With Nora

Monday, November 10th: Booksie’s Blog

Wednesday, November 12th: Literary Lindsey

Thursday, November 13th: Books and Bindings

Friday, November 14th: Every Free Chance Book Reviews

Saturday, November 15th: BoundbyWords

Sunday, November 16th: Giraffe Days

Monday, November 17th: Doing Dewey

Tuesday, November 18th: Bibliotica

Thursday, November 20th: The Book Binder’s Daughter

Friday, November 21st: Bookshelf Fantasies

Friday, November 21st: Book Loving Hippo

Friday, November 21st: Books in the Burbs

Monday, November 24th: I’d Rather Be At The Beach

Tuesday, November 25th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Wednesday, November 26th: missris

TBD: Reading in Black & White

TBD: …the bookworm…

She Reads Fall Book Tour: The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

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My Review:

Wow.  This book has it all: family dysfunction, family secrets, marital affairs, sibling rivalry, suicide, survivor’s guilt, divorce, and shame.  The Bird family all experience the majority of their heartbreak in their family home.  After the death of the Bird’s matriarch, the family comes together to clean out their home.  Along with it, many family memories come up to the surface and the Bird family members have to address everything they buried underneath all their pain and shame.

It is interesting that the family is named “Bird”, the matriarch’s favorite holiday is Easter, and the biggest tragedy actually happens on Easter.  The Bird family all do their best to escape the family nest, but to embrace their future, every one of them has to visit their past.  Sadly, their past isn’t all Easter eggs wrapped in color foil.  The items in the house (as the mom was a hoarder), are signs of the sadness that was hidden underneath each item.  Lorelei (Bird’s matriarch) states that the items all represent a specific time and place with a memory that she wants to remember long past a picture can provide.

Meg is the oldest daughter, followed by Beth, and their twin brothers: Rory and Rhys.  Lorelei is a mom with her own obsessive compulsive tendencies, stemmed from a childhood of sexual abuse.  The patriarch (Colin) is rather aloof and quiet, doing what he needs to so that he can pacify Lorelei.  Vicky is the neighbor, who is married with 2 daughters.  Each one has their issues, leading up to the family tragedy, with evidence that shows the family was already cracking long before that event.

There are so many layers to this story, with so many rabbit trails that Lisa Jewell takes readers through.  With amazing writing techniques, Lisa Jewell manages to bring each different story and show their relevance and importance to the overall storyline.  I would love to talk about Bethan (Beth) and her black outs, because there is so much she saw and really holds the largest piece to the puzzle after her mom dies.  I think there are some family secrets of incest and the abuse Beth sees and experiences, passes on to the relationship she has with someone in the family.  There are so many layers to this story, and is a book that will become a book club favorite!  It’s a long book, but every single page is worth it.

supreme cupcake rating 6

A huge thanks to She Reads for selecting one fantastic book for us to read!  No forms of compensation were given.   

I would like to thank Lisa Jewell and the publisher,  Atria Books (A trademark of Simon & Schuster) for providing me with this book, free of charge, for review.

To read more reviews of all the She Reads selection for the Books of Fall, click here

Review: Astor Place Vintage by Stephanie Lehmann

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My Review:

Wow!  I read all the rave reviews about this wonderful book, but couldn’t read it until now.  Some things are worth waiting for, and this is one of them. I am so glad I had purchased this and had it on my Kindle, just waiting….

Amanda is a single woman, who is in a complex relationship with her high school sweetheart (who is married).  Amanda is also the owner of a little vintage shop, where she gets to sell clothes that are more than just a piece of fabric…there are memories woven throughout.  Through a series of events, Amanda comes to terms with her relationship, makes huge decisions about her home/place of work, and her life.

However, the true magic is in the diary Amanda finds, stitched inside a fur muzzle.  Taken back to the early 1900’s, Amanda reads about the adventures of Sadie, Angelina, and Olive.  All independent women, with different adventures in their lives, yet they all hold a valuable bond.  They all had great stories to tell, however, I was so taken aback by the challenges young women faced back then.  With no rights to vote, it was very hard for women back then to even rent a hotel room!  Women had to enter through a different door, labeled for women, they weren’t earning near as much as men, deal with issues of wanting to be independent and faced criticism for it, etc.  It was just an amazing and horrible ordeal that women dealt with, but still managed to make great strides despite restrictions.

I just loved the stories, past and present, and absolutely loved the pictures in the book!  I purchased this book on my e-reader, but would definitely recommend buying the actual book to appreciate the pictures better.  It’s a fantastic read and one that I’d recommend to anyone wanting to read a great book about friendships, historical fiction, and love books with a bit of mystery!

excellent cupcake 5

TLC Book Tours: Bird in Hand by Christina Baker Kline

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Click on cover to read synopsis.

 

My Review:

I read Christina Baker Kline’s book, Orphan Train, and enjoyed it very much! It was a historical fiction book, so I was truly intrigued about this book. It’s not a historical fiction book, which is quite hard for authors to do (jumping from genre to another) and succeed.  However, Christina Baker Kline is certainly the exception and her writing skills are spot on with this great book!

I read this book in about 1.5 days.  Christina’s writing draws you in immediately.  It’s not a book you have to wait to really get invested in…it starts from page 1.  I remember reading the first 10 pages and a friend asked what I was reading.  I told her and she asked how it was.  I told her, “It’s fantastic!! There is so much happening, that I can’t put it down!”.  She asked what page I was on…I was on page 10.  Just 10 pages.  We laughed as she said I was really giving this book huge accolades when I hadn’t read that much.  However, in those 10 pages, so much happens that it felt like I had read 3 chapters, at least.  Why? Because it takes that long to be introduced to the characters, build up the plot, then create a twist.  This book did that mid-way through the chapter!  It just goes to show how quickly the pace of the book moves, with the readers getting to know the 4 main characters and the challenges they face as they each have to look at their marriage, their friendships, and their future.

I always tell people that if an author can get me to dislike a character, they are a fantastic author.  It’s easy to create a character to sympathize with, but it’s quite challenging to create one that brings out so much emotion and disgust.  That is how I felt about Charlie.  He is the person that I felt this story truly revolved around, because he demanded it.  It was about how he felt in the marriage, what kind of attention (if any) he wanted to give to his children and wife, his relationship with his college friends, even about how the accident his wife was in, was going to affect him.  In the end, I wasn’t too happy with how it ended for him, but I have a feeling that if the pages continues, Charlie will find himself in a different situation.

Allison is the wife that many will resonate with, feel compassion towards, even be angry with…after all, she was in a devastating accident that has life long consequences.  Allison is also the friend of Claire, who in many ways lives vicariously through her friends, as she romps around and ventures into the world of writing.  Ben is the supportive husband, successful, and devoted to his wife:  Claire.  While there is a lot that goes in the book, there is much not written, which will leave many wondering about the future of these 4 friends.  I hope Christina Baker Kline considers writing a sequel because I would love to love to know what happens!

Christina Baker Kline is brilliant, as she tackles some huge issues that couples face, even if the circumstances are different.  Every couple at one point or another has to decide how to make their marriage better, career choices and how to manage their household.  Sadly, some couples have to deal with issues of infidelity, trust, respect, and boundaries.  Each of these issues are tackled in this fantastic book, that will make fro a great book club discussion, and be a favorite for many! excellent cupcake 5

*This book was provided through the publisher and TLC Book Tours, in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Christina Baker Kline

Christina Baker Kline was born in England and raised in Maine. The author of five novels, including the runaway bestseller Orphan Train, Kline has taught literature and creative writing at Yale, New York University, and Fordham. She lives outside of New York City.

 

 

Find out more about Kline at her website, connect with her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

 

Christina’s Tour Stops

Bird in Hand

Thursday, October 16th: I’d Rather Be At The Beach

Tuesday, October 21st: Kritters Ramblings

Thursday, October 23th: Books in the Burbs

Monday, October 27th: Kahakai Kitchen

Wednesday, October 29th: BoundbyWords

Thursday, October 30th: Sara’s Organized Chaos

Monday, November 3rd: A Bookish Way of Life

 

 

TLC Book Tour Review: Early Decision by Lacy Crawford

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Click on the book cover for synopsis.

My Review:

As a mom of a freshman in college, I can still remember all the preparation it took and time spent to fill out college applications, scholarships, and visiting campuses.  During that time, a friend mentioned hiring a person to fill out the applications for their son.  It was a lot of money, and I thought it was a bit crazy.

Well, apparently, that is the norm!! This book moved at a great pace and highlights different families and the challenges they face, along with the “college whisperer” to make sure the student has the best opportunity to go to the best university.  This book isn’t a “how-to”, rather it shows the extents families will go for their child to remain a legacy in the family, the pressures the students face, and the way it can potentially bring a family closer, or break them further apart.  I found it most interesting the relationships and family dynamics that Anne sees, as she spends more time with her students and family secrets are exposed and the pressures each one faces.

It’s not a depressing book by any means, but it’s a somber look at what families expect from their children, even when their child may have a different idea of what they want for their future.  I love how Anne is able to bring out the best in each of the students she works with and the trust she works hard at establishing.

Anne has her own share of struggles and a relationship that is long distance, which puts pressure on her work and her own goals.  Anne is a young woman, who didn’t set out to be a college coach.  She taught at school and helped her students with their college essays, which slowly morphed into her coaching other kids because of the huge success she had with her former students.

About a year ago, I read the book, Accelerated by Bronwen Hruska.  Reading Lacy Crawford’s book made me think of the students from Accelerated, and I pictured them and their parents as the ones seeking help from Anne.  I know…these books have nothing to do with the other, but I could see a natural extension of it all.

Overall, I loved this book! Again, there aren’t any huge secrets that are revealed in the book.  However, I loved the essays because it showed what each student was thinking, their writing ability, and how Anne was able to pull more from her students when she read the essays.  I loved this book and any parent who has dealt with college admissions, has a child in school, or is simply a reader who loves books about family secrets, family relationships, and the pressure of today’s society, will all enjoy this fantastic read!

excellent cupcake 5

*This book was provided by the publisher and TLC Book Tours, in exchange for an honest review.  No forms of compensation were given.

About Lacy Crawford

For fifteen years Lacy Crawford served as a highly discreet independent college admissions counselor to the children of powerful clients in cities such as New York, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and London. Her “day jobs” included serving as senior editor of Narrative magazine and director of the Burberry Foundation. Educated at Princeton and the University of Chicago, Crawford lives in California with her husband and two children.

Connect with Lacy Crawford through her website or Twitter.

Lacy’s  Tour Stops

Tuesday, August 26th: Walking With Nora

Wednesday, August 27th: Back Porchervations

Thursday, August 28th: Man of La Book

Monday, September 1st: Alison’s Book Marks

Tuesday, September 2nd: The Ludic Reader

Wednesday, September 3rd: cakes, tea and dreams

Thursday, September 4th: Staircase Wit

Monday, September 8th: Carpe Libros

Wednesday, September 10th: The Scarlet Letter

Thursday, September 11th: missris

Monday, September 15th: Mrs. Mommy Booknerd

Tuesday, September 16th: Shall Write

Wednesday, September 17th: Book Journey

Thursday, September 18th: Bibliotica

Thursday, September 25th: Books in the Burbs

Friday, September 26th: The Things You Can Read

I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe

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Click on image to read synopsis.

My Review:

First, I absolutely love the title and book cover.  I understand there is another book cover, but the one I have is the cover I have posted up top.  The title sends chills down my spine, now as I reflect back on the love between Rosetta and her husband, Jeremiah.  The cover is a depiction of Rosetta (and any other female solider disguised as a man).  I have to admit, I don’t really enjoy reading about war.  I already know that there will be blood, gore, death, and family separation…and it all just makes me sad.  However, when I read the synopsis, I knew this book was an exception.  I’m so glad that I did read this book!

Based on a compilation of true stories, Erin brings to life the characters of Rosetta (Ross), Jeremiah, and the troops they fight with.  During the Civil War, I was shocked that there were many soliders (disguised as men), who fought in the war.  I realize I may be in the minority, but again-I’m not a war book reader, however it wasn’t until this book that I learned about the brave women-who fought alongside brave, young men, too.  Back then, physicals weren’t given and it was just your word and a signature that allowed you to join up for war.  Before the era of social media and internet, soldiers didn’t have ways of delivering and receiving mail often from their loved ones.  So, there were months before a letter was received.  Erin is so detailed in sharing more about the life of a solider, during a time when communication was limited, resources were scarce, and the unknown was their greatest challenge.

Despite all the war details in the book, Erin weaves a beautiful love story, in the midst of a very brutal, bloody, and horrific war.  These were soldiers on the battle front, who had to walk into the line of fire and see their comrades blown to bits, injured, and even had to bury those who were killed.  I can’t imagine the PTSD all these soldiers experienced!!!

I love the character: Will!!  He is also a solider, who has a “secret”, and shares it with Ross.  I love their relationship as friends, and the way they treated each other as equals.  Ross is one tough woman and I love the way her character is portrayed.  She is tough on the battlefield, is a loyal friend to her comrades, and is a devoted wife to her husband.

There are so many layers to this book: the role of women, the issues of battle, family issues, death, and friendships.  It’s an excellent book to read!  While there is some subject matter that readers may be concerned about (the details of a horrific war, homosexuality (only lightly discussed), some sexual implied scenes), it is relevant to the storyline, and is not graphic (besides the war).  None of those issues should dissuade a reader from buying and reading this book. I absolutely loved this book!  If you do read it, grab some tissue…there are some tearjerker moments!

*This book was provided by Blogging for Books, in exchange for an honest review.

 

Review: The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

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Please click on book cover for synopsis.

 

The cover and book title are genius!!  Wow, I was thrown for one huge loop, when I reached the end of the book!  Mia is a socialite, who doesn’t follow the norms within her family.  Her father, a prominent attorney, turned judge, is very much into appearances and will stop at nothing to make sure the family name stays untainted.  Mia’s mom is the perfect wife, albeit on the outside, as she does her best to keep up appearances, too.  Mia has a sister, who follows the family rules and becomes an attorney herself.  Mia, on the other hand, struggles as a teenager and soon cuts herself off from the family, as she pursues art and becomes a teacher for the inner-city kids.

The story is told through flashbacks and present time, with the book addressing many issues: family secrets, why Mia is kidnapped, the relationship between Mia and her captor, Mia’s relationships with her family, the relationship between Mia’s parents, the justice system, and so much more.  It’s a book that held my attention the whole time.  Mia tries to escape her captor, but overtime, experiences the Stockholm Syndrome.  What happens to Mia? What happens to the family and their public image? Who wanted Mia kidnapped? Those are just a few of the questions that will addressed in the book.  It’s a book that will certainly engage the reader and offer some huge surprises along the way! excellent cupcake 5

*This book was provided through the publisher and NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.