Review: Pig the Pug by Aaron Blabey

Whenever I find books that my second graders go crazy over, I feel a responsibility to share them. Especially around the holidays. Because there’s no better gift for a child than books and the love of reading.

Enter Pig the Pug. He’s very, very naughty. Along with the naughtiness comes so many LOL moments I can’t even keep track of them. These are the stories my kiddos are currently obsessed with, reading them over and over and over. And they laugh just as much each time they read them.

This is the first in the series, and I do recommend starting with this one. There are currently five Pig the Pug books with another one scheduled to be released in the US in April.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Pig the Pug

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Review: Alaskan Holiday by Debbie Macomber

Loved this nice, sweet Christmas story about Josie the chef from Seattle. Josie finds fun, adventure, and romantic interest Palmer while she’s spending some time in Alaska. Though she’s scheduled to go home to Seattle, the fates intervene – and Josie is held in Alaska for longer than she planned.

Palmer and Josie were lovely characters and it was fun to see their relationship develop. I also really liked seeing what Josie was going to cook up next – I guess you could say that I have that in common with cranky but lovable Jack!

Solid, uplifting Christmastime read.

-calliope

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Quick Review(again): The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Magical, enchanting and fantastical!

I’ve heard lots of people talking about this book since it released last year, especially Urania. And I know it’s already been reviewed, but I just had to shout it’s praises for myself. To be honest, The Bear and the Nightingale didn’t seem like something I’d like, since I mostly read romance, but it was always in the back of my mind. When I decided to start a book club, this book was one of the books I was hoping we’d get to read this winter. So for our December book we chose this. I just finished reading it and I can’t believe I waited so long. Seriously.

“All my life, I have been told to ‘go’ and ‘come’. I am told how I will live, and I am told how I must die. I must be a man’s servant and a mare for his pleasure, or I must hide myself behind walls and surrender my flesh to a cold, silent god. I would walk into the jaws of hell itself, if it were a path of my own choosing. I would rather die tomorrow in the forest than live a hundred years of the life appointed to me.”

That quote pretty much sums up the reason I loved Vasya. She is done waiting and sets out to do something for herself.

I can’t put my finger on why I loved this book. Perhaps it’s the Russian folklore aspect. Or maybe the odd characters. Or it may be that I can tell that there’s more epicness coming and that’s what made it such a page turner. Not sure, but this is definitely in my top 10 of this year. I can’t recommend it enough.

And now I need to read book two. I need to know what happens next!!

~Melpomene

Buy The Bear and the Nightingale https://amzn.to/2L6qBbL

Review: Any Second by Kevin Emerson

Is it fate that brings Eli and Maya together? Or is it just luck? Either way, it’s life-changing for both of them. Each dealing with their own version of trauma, they’re thrown together under the most unlikely of circumstances.

Eli is truly a victim. Kidnapped at a young age, he’s currently on a mission from his abductor – walk into the mall with explosives strapped to his chest and get redemption from all who have done the world wrong.

Maya is a victim of another sort. She’s a victim of her own anxiety. Hair pulling, skin tearing, sinking deep within herself…this is how she deals. She’s also at the mall that day, keeping her dad company while he gets a new driver’s license to complement his new life.

When their paths cross, neither of their lives will ever be the same. You see, Maya’s the one who sees Eli. She’s the one who notices something amiss. And she’s the one who decides to save not only everyone around her but also Eli himself.

Fast forward several months…Eli is trying to get back to a normal life, whatever that is. And Maya is still dealing with her anxiety, made understandably worse with her close encounter with death. And they meet again, this time when Eli transfers to Maya’s school. They’re drawn to each other, understandably. Will Maya be able to save Eli a second time? And will Eli be able to save Maya as well?

This is a very intense book starting from the first page. Heartbreaking at times, uplifting and hopeful at others, it’s the story of what can happen when we open our doors and let others in.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Any Second

Review: The Paris Secret by Lily Graham

This is my absolute favorite kind of story. Historical fiction, a bit of mystery, and a sprinkling of romance all rolled into one. Bonus points to this one for being set in a bookstore.

When Valerie returns to Paris to take on a job at a bookstore, she has one goal in mind – find out the truth about what happened to her parents. You see, her grandfather Vincent owns the bookstore. Of course he has no idea he’s hiring his granddaughter. He does, however, take an immediate liking to Valerie despite his gruff demeanor.

Slowly but surely, she begins to put together the pieces of a puzzle. This puzzle will tell the story of her childhood and why she was sent away at such a young age. But it’s a painful story to tell with more secrets than she’s expecting to learn.

Such a great, great story. I adore historical fiction set in this era. And this one has such a heartbreaking family component to it that I just couldn’t put it down. A definite winner!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The Paris Secret

Review: The Wish Collector by Mia Sheridan

“I would’ve looked twice at you,” he said. “Then. Now. In any lifetime, and under the brightest of skies.”

Mia Sheridan does it again. The Wish Collector is a story about love, history and curses. The setting is New Orleans with all it’s magic and mysteries swirling about. From the very first page I was swept up into this story. The scenes were ripe with excitement and angst. And with the ghosts from the past they make this story even more mysterious.

Jonah made some wrong choices in his past that drastically changed his future and believes himself unworthy of forgiveness. He remains behind the walls of his home and keeps everyone a part from him. That is until one girl starts showing up at his wall and slowly starts to chisel away at his heart.

He looks like a man who’s been terribly hurt by the world and believes there is nothing left to love about him anymore.

Clara is new to New Orleans and discovers there’s a mystery behind the walls of Windisle plantation. When she goes there to see if she can uncover the truth she finds that there’s more than just ghosts haunting this plantation. Jonah is hiding from his past but she won’t let him. While trying to learn more about Windisle she learns what happened to Jonah and is determined to help him discover his past.

I loved Clara. She’s this tiny ballet dancer but has a fierceness about her. She won’t give up. Jonah is scarred inside and out and she’s the balm that’s needed for healing. When he finally accepts that there’s more he can do besides stalking behind his walls, the world better watch out. Jonah is ready to change it and make it better.

He was beauty and pain, glory and suffering, vengeance and grace, and all the things made stronger and more meaningful because they have an opposite.

~Melpomene
Buy The Wish Collector https://amzn.to/2ztKSU2

Review: Daughters of the Lake by Wendy Webbk

Sometimes you just need a good ghost story. Something slightly spooky without being over the top, something that’ll give you a touch of the goosebumps. This story by Wendy Webb does just that.

After her marriage ends badly, Kate returns home to recover. Peace and quiet, time to reflect, is just what she needs. Those thoughts are tossed aside when a body washes ashore near the family home. And it’s not just any body. Kate recognizes the woman. She knows her, not from real life but from her dreams. How does one explain this to the authorities, though? Especially since Kate herself is somewhat of a suspect.

With the help of her cousin, Simon, Kate begins to dig deeper into the mystery of the dead woman. As she uncovers more and more of her family’s past, she finds secrets she’s not prepared to confront. And some of these secrets are a danger to her.

This was a really good story, better than I expected it to be. Part murder mystery, part historical fiction, part ghost story, it has a bit of everything!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Daughters of the Lake