Love- Blog Tour!

A better layout of this review can be found at: betweenthereads.weebly.com

Have you looked around lately, looking at everything that is going amuck in the world? Do you think about how to bring a little bit of happiness back home to your kids or your family? Well Love by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Loren Long is the perfect book to bring home and share with the kiddos. Love brings up topics that generate love in every day life.  Things that we sometimes forget, things that we overlook in every day life, and so much more. This book will stir in you emotions and feelings that you never knew a picture book could ever pull out of you.

love1

Source: Penguin Random House

I suggest you all get this book and read it with your kids, your parents, and the people you love. When I got this book in the mail for review I had to read it right away I was so excited. I read through it and I had to call my mom and read it to her. Love made me think of what I love in this world and what is important to me and here are 5 things that I love in this world.

  1. Family– I grew up as a middle child in between two sisters. My sisters mean the world to me and we fight often but always come back together. I have two great parents that are super supportive of many of the things that I want to do with my life even if they don’t understand what any of it means. I have two amazing nieces that pull my heartstrings all the time. Over Christmas break, my older niece who is 8 decided to read a book that I had given her instead of playing with another boy. Maybe I am rubbing off on her.
  2. Memories– I am a pack rat. I keep anything and everything that may connect to a memory or remind me of something. I have the last Christmas presents that I received from my grandpa before his death. In my toy box I still have a teddy bear and whale pillow that I got from my parents after my tonsillectomy in kindergarten.  I like to look back on these items and remember the connections from the past.
  3. Stories– Along with collecting physical memories, I also like to collect people’s stories. You never know what a person can teach you or show you how their life is different from yours. A few years ago, I recorded my grandmother telling her life story and the little memories that we have connected together. I like listening to the recording to hear a laugh or a specific way that she says a word. I will be able to cherish it forever.
  4. Friends– I have some of the greatest people in my life that always give advice, both wanted and unwanted. They will stand by my side in the good times and the bad times. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, sometimes friends become your family when your family isn’t around. My family lives four hours away from me currently while I attend college. Sometimes you need a person to talk to in person. All of my friends are always willing to lend a listening ear.
  5. Hope– I love hope. I love being positive in dark times and in good times. Without hope, can you have love? I always hope for a better future than what yesterday brought. I hope to be successful and remain humble in my choices. I hope that everyone in my life does the best they can with what comes their way. Sometimes hope isn’t there for a day and it gets rough but you learn from it and grow into a new tomorrow.

What do you love in this world? What is important to you? Read Love and look at the stunning artwork and ask the people you love what is important. What does love mean to you? What can you do to share more love? It may change everyday, but if you always think of these things, then hope and love will grow in your family and your life.

Join me next time Between the Reads and let me know what you love in this world!!

** I was given a free copy of this picture book in return for an honest review by Penguin Random House. **

Check out these other stops on the blog tour!
WEEK ONE
January 8 – Margie’s Must Reads – Mood Board
January 9 – DoodleMom’s Homeschooling Life – Review and Review and Creative (lesson plan/unit study)
January 10 – The Keepers of the Books – What Love Means to different age groups
January 11 – The Children’s Book Reviews – Creative
January 12 – Books4yourkids – Creative
WEEK TWO
January 15 – Happily Ever Elephants – Review + Kids quotes on what love is to them.
January 16 – Crayon Freckles – Creative Learning Activity
January 17 – My Book Bloom – Review and Craft
January 18 – My Little Poppies – Activity
January 19 – All Done Monkey – Lesson plan or activity.
WEEK THREE
January 22 – Mundie Moms – Ask 7th graders what they think of the definition of “love”
January 23 – Wandering Bark Books – Spotlight
January 24 – Little Lit Book Series – Arts and Crafts Post
January 25 – Between the Reads – Review AND exploring what love means in today’s society and what it means to me
January 26 – The Plot Bunny – Old Valentine’s Mood Board
WEEK FOUR
January 29 – Just Commonly – “Love is” Collage
January 30 – Inspiration Laboratories – Artwork demonstrating love
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The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Have you ever thought back to when you were younger and could remember who the “bad kids” were? What if those kids smoked cigars in the church bathroom, stole doughnuts from firefighters, or simply terrified the entire town? That is exactly what the Herdman kids do in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. The Herdman family is the family that terrorizes the entire city. At the mere mention of their name causes people to worry.  There are six of them: Ralph, Imogene, Claude, Leroy, Ollie, and Gladys.

This middle grade children’s book is about the Christmas season and the pageantry that comes with it. One of the church ladies, Mrs. Armstrong, falls and breaks her leg causing her to relinquish control of the church Christmas pageant. Mother becomes the new director and everything changes.  Before beginning the rehearsals, Charlie, mother’s son, is bullied by Leroy and tells him that at church they get refreshments and deserts causing the Herdman kids to start going to church.  The church usually has the same people playing the same parts almost as if it’s tradition.  That changes when the Herdmans take over and want parts in the pageant. Will the pageant go horribly wrong? What will the Herdmans do to get what they want?

This book is heart warming and should be read every Christmas.  Although this book details the Christian meaning of Christmas, it means so much more than baby Jesus in a manger.  It is the story of including others during the holidays.  The Herdmans prove themselves to be good people even though they do bad things. The holidays aren’t the only time to include people, but it is a starting point.  You will fall in love with this group of kids just as much as I did.

I have always wanted to read this book since my freshman year in college. Back in December of 2014 I had the opportunity to play Ralph in a play adaptation of this book. The play is just as funny as the book and bringing Ralph to life is one of my favorite roles to look back on. I was almost 19 playing an 11 year old boy. There are aspects of these kids that you can connect with and realize that no matter what they do, they are still children and are still learning. The family doesn’t really have parent figures around so they are learning about who they are and what to do normally by doing and seeing what happens. I urge you and your family or just you to sit down with this simple book and learn about the Herdmans and what they learn through the process of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.

I wish you all a very happy holiday season. Merry Christmas to those who celebrate.

Join me next time Between the Reads!!!

Down to a Sunless Sea

Hey Everyone! Here is a new review of a novella that I am grateful for the chance to review. For those that know me, you know dystopian literature is my ultimate favorite.  Down to a Sunless Sea by Maartens Lourens and Deep Thunder is one of the first books to by utilizing an artificial intelligence.  The AI developed a vocabulary that was then infused into the novella.

The novella tells the story of Blake who had met a girl named Sia the night before but couldn’t recall much about it. He sets out on a mission to find out more about Lord Raleigh, a man that is well know in the aristocracy.  In order to do so he must attend a secret event put on by Lord Raleigh which leads him into a world similar to a play.

Down to a Sunless Sea is a difficult book to describe because you start reading when a minor conflict sets the scene and it builds for the rest of the book. For those of you that don’t know, a novella is a short book that is approximately 50,000 words. Also, while the novella begins in the midst of conflict, there isn’t much of a plot to the story.  Of course there is action and events that happen but with it occurring in a limited time frame of 48 hours of less, not much can happen without distorting time.  Usually I don’t like books that don’t have a plot, but with this novella I wanted to keep reading. The vocabulary that was made by the AI is interesting and seems stifling and the author adds a glossary in the back of the book to help alleviate the unfamiliar; however, once you get into the story, you will begin to forget that these words were foreign thirty pages back.

Lastly, kudos to the publisher and the marketing team for the book.  The cover has a shine to it that can’t be seen well in the photo but it shows Down to a Sunless Sea imprinted on the cover.  All of the symbols and colors are extremely significant to the body of text. I love when authors and publishers utilize covers and branding to reflect the work that they are doing. I highly recommend that you check out this novella and let me know what you think!!

Join me next time Between the Reads!!!

 

**I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased and honest review.

Aaru

Hey Everyone! Long time no see. This semester of college has been the busiest I have ever experienced. I directed a show this fall while working almost 25 hours a week and taking 15 credit hours worth of classes. Now that everything is lightening up I thought I would give you all a new review.

The next book I am reviewing is Aaru by David Meredith.  I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.  Aaru is about Rose who is dying of leukemia and how her family deals with it. Her family is willing to try any treatment or therapy necessary to save Rose’s life.  Rose has a little sister named Koren who loves her older sister dearly and can’t wait for Rose to get better to play soccer with her. Rose on the other hand has accepted that she is going to die. She is tired of being poked and prodded with all of the treatments.  Her father convinces her to try one more treatment and then if it didn’t work then she can do what she wants. A strange man that isn’t a doctor comes into the hospital room and hooks Rose up to brain sensor and has her and her family retrace old memories of what makes her feel joy. Soon after Rose dies and the family begins to mourn. Eventually the strange man returns with a limousine and tells the family that Rose is actually alive.

When they arrive at the lab they are told that the sensors on Rose’s brain captured everything that made Rose who she is.  Using this data they have made a replica of Rose in a computer system called Aaru that will allow families to interact with their formerly deceased loved one. Because this was so successful, they want Koren to become their spokes model.

I must admit I could only get through the first 80 pages and that was a struggle. It was often repetitive with random philosophical quotes thrown in without any context to the scenes being played in the book. This would be classified as a science fiction and an independent novel.  With this being an independent novel, the editing wasn’t the best before the book is sent to print in its final form.  I wanted to like this book so much. I told myself that I would not review any more books until I finished the review for this book.  Meredith has written another book that has received awards that I am interested in reading.  Many other reviewers have said that this book merely starts super slow and is a great read but after almost 100 pages I still wasn’t hooked. A copy of Aaru is fairly inexpensive and I urge you to take a look at it if you have a copy around. We should celebrate independent authors more. So check it out and see what you think. We as book bloggers are not the know all be all for other people’s reading interests.

Join me next time Between The Reads!!

Things Fall Apart

One village against imperialism. That is the basis of Chinua Achebe’s novel, Things Fall Apart. Achebe creates the fictional village of Umuofia that is led by the elders and great warriors of the clan.  Umuofia is a village that is rich in tradition, religion, and values. The main character we meet is Okonkwo who is “well known throughout the nine villages and beyond.”  Okonkwo is a warrior that has led Umuofia to war many times and is known to be the mediator between the villages when war is eminent.  But to fully understand Okonkwo and the man he is, you must understand who his father is.

 

Unoka, Okonkwo’s father, is a musician in the village that is quite the talker.  He can split a kola nut while talking his friends into letting him borrow money.  Unoka will borrow and borrow until he owes his friends thousands of cowries.  He is known in the village as a lazy man who has never taken any titles showing his role in society.  He always wonders why his yams are never fruitful.  He sacrifices to his ancestors and the Gods.  He asks the God of the Earth, Agbala, why his yams are never successful. The priestess for Agbala simply replies, “Hold your peace!… You have offended neither the gods nor your fathers. And when a man is at peace with his gods and his ancestors, his harvest will be good or bad according to the strength of his arm.  You, Unoka, are known in the whole clan for the weakness of your machete and your hoe. When your neighbors go out with their ax to cut down virgin forests, you sow your yams on exhausted farms that take no labor to clear.  They cross seven rivers to make their farms; you stay at home and offer sacrifices to a reluctant soil. Go home and work like a man.”

 

Because Unoka is lazy, Okonkwo must build up his own status in the village.  When Unoka dies he leaves Okonkwo nothing to take care of his mother, sisters, and the other wives.  He learns to plow the fields and wrestle to show his strength in the village taking multiple titles of status.  He takes three wives, and has 7 children.  Okonkwo rises to a respectable view of the village and frankly the entire community near and far.  Later in the novel, the imperialist English Christians invade the villages throwing off the religion and flow of history that makes up the village of Umuofia. The Christians come in and tell the people that there are not multiple Gods and begin a new government forcing the villagers to decide to go with the new white people or stand their ground.

 

I loved this book.  It is so rich in African culture while sharing a viewpoint we don’t often get when studying Imperialism in high school and college.  It shows how the villagers came face to face with a strange power taking control of their land without permission or respect of the customs and traditions of the tribe all to show respect to their Queen.  Although this is a fictional account, Imperialism and colonialism made bigger impacts than we think.  There are parts of the world that have lost their language because a bigger, larger, richer country has come in saying that they are the best, forcing natives to lose who they are.  In America, personally, we don’t often look at the culture of different races and nationalities in an accepting way.  We are brash and arrogant about how we see things.  In the same way, you see the British acting this way to Okonkwo and his people. I would definitely recommend you read this book. You need to.

 

Join me next time Between The Reads!

The Final Hour

Assassins. CIA. And an unknown contractor on the hunt. In Tom Wood’s recent thriller, The Final Hour, we meet Raven or Constance as some know her who has been poisoned by an enemy, or are they enemies? Raven and Victor are both hired assassins that kill for very important people. Prior to this installment, they had worked together but as soon as the job was done, Victor poisons Raven with an untraceable substance paralyzing her.  The Consensus is out to kill Raven because she has too much information and wants to kill the entire Consensus.

 

Back in Washington D.C., we meet Procter and Alvarez. Procter is the head of the CIA. Alvarez used to report to Procter but he has a promotion.  Procter in the past, while Alvarez was an agent, hired Victor to kill for the CIA that accidentally killed a few CIA agents.  The deaths have been pinned on Victor although the deed was done before he got to the hotel to do the kill.  Alvarez since getting the promotion, he has set it as his goal to find out who Victor is and put him away to get revenge on the deaths of the agents.  Will he find out who Victor really is??

 

All while this is going on, Victor not only has to avoid Alvarez but also The Phoenix, a large contractor that has a contract out to kill him.  Victor gets put in a bad place multiple times and manages to escape gaining information on The Phoenix while trying to track them down.  Victor comes up with the idea to fake his own death to escape under the radar and he wants Raven to help.  Will they be able to fake his death? Will Alvarez catch Victor?  Will Raven escape the clutch of The Consensus?

 

This book is typically not my kind of book.  It is also the 7th book in a series I have learned after reading this. If I had known it was a series I would have second guessed reading.  All in all it was a good book.  I really like his style of writing and the way the story unfolds. I particularly didn’t care for the content but the characters and the plot were incredible and Wood keeps you wanting to find out what happens at the end.  It is a very long book for those of you that don’t like long books this isn’t for you. But, if you do like a good assasins/spy novel check this out.  I would like to read some more of his work and see what I think.

 

Join me next time Between The Reads!!

The Lauras

What if you were taken out of your home in the middle of the night by your mom? Tossed into the back seat of the car and drove away from the place you grew up not knowing when you were to return.  Alex and their mother start this incredible road trip exactly like that.  Alex wraps themselves in their comforter and falls asleep.  Their Ma is known for taking a few day long road trips but Alex had never gone with her.  The police later try to find them, though Ma doesn’t want to be found.

The road trip is the ultimate road trip that spans the entire country.  Their first stop is at a little diner in the middle of nowhere with beautiful mountains as a backdrop.  While they stay there, Ma works at the diner and Alex explores the mountains learning exactly how to get around enough to not get lost, but get a little lost for the thrill.  Alex and Ma stayed in an apartment about the grocery store collecting books and little things they could take with them in a moment’s notice.  One afternoon the police come into the diner and Ma slips out the back after being paid in cash under the table and takes off to the apartment collecting their things and Alex and they take off.

This book is a roller coaster of road trips back to back for three years.  Alex and Ma go through many milestones while creating distance between the two just to come back stronger months later.  Sara Taylor is an incredible author.  The way she writes ties you in, not only through the plot but also her lyrical voice that is present through the book.  One big thing that stuck out to me was a passage about how we attach memories of others we love to strangers that look similar or have the same name.  It is true that memories are raw and this book exemplifies that.  Ma lived a life of running away, group homes, foster homes, and parents that frankly didn’t care about her.  Alex only knows bits and pieces of their mom’s secrets but through the novel Ma shares these stories bit by bit to Alex revealing all of her secrets.

Another big thing that Taylor convincingly does is that she hides the gender of the narrator Alex. Alex identifies as non binary and what is in their pants doesn’t matter to anyone but them.  Ma supports Alex through and through. I have never read a book that the character doesn’t have any gender and Taylor is precise in her word choice veiling all clues about the sex of the narrator. It is fascinating.

I loved this book. I could not put it down. Something about this book clicked with me and I am still trying to figure out what exactly that is. It is personal and real. I would recommend you check this out, if not for the story then for the little passages that just sing.  Join me next time Between the Reads!!

 

** I received a copy of this book for review from BloggingforBooks.com**