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Grab A Cup of Hot Chocolate and Sit In Your Comfy Chair

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51av+CdT-kL._AC_UL320_SR214,320_By Gini Rainey

“The Twelfth of Never” by Cynthia Boone

When I reviewed Ms. Boone’s book “Where Have You Been” back in January, I had a sense that she was on to something very good. I was right! Her latest book, “The Twelfth of Never” should put her up with some of the better romance novel writers around. Giving her readers a top-notch storyline with characters that are not only believable, but also likable, she has touched all the bases required for a home-run best seller.

Putting a new spin on the age-old formula of rich boy (Harris) who meets poor girl (Cassie), she tells the poignant story of a couple of young kids who meet in 1954 Dallas, Texas. Each goes their separate way to college, him to Yale and her to SMU, without realizing that they love one another. Through their friendly correspondence with each other, Boone tells the passing of time until they both wind up back in Dallas after graduation and realize how much they love one another.

Of course, love can never be easy when you’re young, and Boone has a lot of plot twists and turns scheduled for Harris and Cassie. So many, in fact, that just about the time you think you’ve got it all figured out, you turn the page and discover you don’t.

This is definitely a book that I would recommend you read if you love stories that are loaded up with romance, intrigue, and lovable, as well as despicable characters. You might as well get comfortable when you start reading this one, I promise you won’t want to put it down until you get to the very end.

Rating: 5 of 5

Copyright 2015 – Book Baby

51eQvANUsnL“The Book Thief” by Marcus Zusak

Death touches us all, but Liesel Meminger, the heroine of this novel, manages to touch Death with her shining humanity and the words of her young life, penned in the basement of a poor home, where she survives a devastating bombing of her neighborhood in Nazi Germany. Death personified holds her luminous grief and happiness in his pocket in the form of a black book containing her young life’s autobiography, found by Him, forgotten by her, in the time of her greatest shock and horror.

Her love of books and the words that make them alive starts with the most unlikely sort of origin: “The Grave Digger’s Handbook,” found in the snow after her six-year-old brother’s death. At almost ten, Liesel cannot read; but a new foster father finds “The Book Thief’s” first volume and uses it to teach her in the darkest hours of night when her terrors awaken her. Books continue to come to Liesel, and Liesel helps herself to books – from the remains of a burning pile on the Fuhrer’s birthday; from the haunted and ghostly Mayor’s wife.

Zusak’s prose style is marvelously creative and so completely captivating that word by word, moment by moment, the story is nearly impossible to stop reading. Each and every character becomes real, but most memorable may be the father, Hans, whose kindness and courage are inseparable. The voice of Death, the narrator, is different from any other voice that I have heard speaking of the horrors of WWII. In the midst of tragedy, compassion remains, even in the most unexpected places.

I would highly recommend the book as a fictional counterpoint to Anne Frank’s diary for mature teens reading about WWII and the Holocaust, driving home the idea that brave hearts and strong consciences were found even in Nazi Germany. The character of Liesel jumps off the page with the same life and vivacity as Anne. While there can be no direct comparison between a real person and fictional character, both books convey the horrors of WWII through the eyes of the young. “The Book Thief” can also serve as a reminder as to how easily society can push us to overlook individual conscience for personal and financial comfort. The character of Liesel will live long in my memory as few characters have. This book is a real gem and until you sit and swim in its poetic language, its vivid characters, and visceral tragedy, you won’t understand the power of “The Book Thief.”

Rating: 5 of 5

Copyright 2007 – Alfred A. Knopf

51xgGEKd6oL._SX315_BO1,204,203,200_“Mrs. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs

On the New York Times Best Seller List for more than 52 consecutive weeks, this book follows the story of 16 year old Jacob. Jacob is very close with his grandfather, who has, from Jacob’s earliest memories, told wild stories of his childhood. He even has the pictures to prove it. Granted, the photos look cheap and doctored to Jacob’s 21st-century eyes, but that doesn’t change the fact that the stories are fantastic.

However, the stories stop being fantastic as Jacob nears adulthood; his grandfather claims that monsters are following him everywhere he goes, that they’re going to kill him. Jacob dismisses it sadly, believing his grandfather is slowly losing his mind. His belief is shaken when his grandpa is mysteriously murdered, torn apart in the woods behind his home. Jacob is the one who finds his grandfather. Just as the paramedics rush in, Jacob spots a horrific monster prowling the scene, which mysteriously disappears and the mysteries continue.

To be honest, when I first started reading “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” I expected a haunting thriller, full of horror and danger. That is not what this book is. Instead, this book is fantasy/adventure combined with a very unique style of photography, which made the book better than I ever thought it would be. I might compare Riggs’ writing style to that of Lemony Snicket in his book “A Series of Unfortunate Events.”

This was a worthy read for those who enjoy eerie, quirky tales. At first I had difficulty deciding into which genre category Peregrine belonged: Historical Fiction? Horror? Thriller? Fantasy? But trust me, it is a pleasant mix of all of these and more. It isn’t scary per se, but I think you will find yourself on the edge of your seat for much of the time you spend reading it. The author’s use of vintage photographs is nothing short of genius, and it would hardly have been the same story without them. My sincere hope was that there would be more to the story (it definitely leaves the reader wanting more, but satisfied at the same time).

If you find yourself hungering for more, Riggs has followed up this book with two more along the same vein, “Hollow City: The Second Novel of Mrs. Peregrine’s Peculiar Children,” and his newly released “Library of Souls: The Third Novel of Mrs. Peregrine’s Peculiar Children.”

Rating: 5 of 5

Copyright 2013 – Quirk Books

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Books

Spend the Summer Reading

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“Bring Me Back”
by B. A. Paris
Just when you think an author can’t out do their last book, they jump right out there and do it!  Filled with even more deception and intrigue than her first two books, Behind Closed Doors and The Breakdown, Paris’ latest book will keep you spell bound until you turn the last page.  Telling the story about the mysterious disappearance of Layla from the perspectives of Finn, his girlfriend, and his fiancé while moving between the past and the present, it’s no wonder that Paris has carved out her niche in the psychological thriller genre.

As Finn digs deeper to determine who might be behind the disappearance and strange emails, his list of suspects grows to encompass even his closest friends.  Because Ms. Paris is a master at building believable characters, the reader finds himself drawn into the intrigue and feeling a certain empathy for everyone involved.

In Bring Me Back, Paris explores how traumatic events can impact, not only the individuals immediately involved, but also everyone they come in contact with.  Not afraid to explore new avenues of intrigue and mystery, she has created yet another spell-binding page turner that will keep you guess till the very last page.

5 of 5 – Copyright 2018 – St. Martins Press

“The Sisters”
by Janet Kay
If you’re looking for a book to read this summer that is filled with history, ghosts, romance, and family discord, this is the one for you.  Set in current day Galveston, this story tells the story of Veronica and Isabella, two sisters who had once be in love with the same man.

Weaving a spell around not only present-day Galveston, Kay’s story helps to explain the reason so many of the historical sites in this Island community are haunted.  From the pirate Jean Lafitte to the estimated six to twelve thousand people who lost there lives during the hurricane of 1900. Described as the deadliest natural ever in the United States, this storm took the life the of sisters’ grandmother, who continues in her afterlife as Isabella’s spirit guide.

If you are familiar with Galveston, and even if not, this book is an intriguing read that pulls you into its web of family deceit and mystery as the sisters strive to learn where they have come from and reconnect on a congenial level of understanding and acceptance.  It will definitely keep you turning the pages to find out where it all ends.

5 of 5 – Copyright 2018 – World Castle Publishing

“Neema’s Reason to Smile”
By Patricia Newman
This delightful book, colorfully illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini, tells the story of Neema and her mother who share big dreams for their life in Kenya.  Neema wants to go to school, while her Mama, who sews clothes by hand, dreams of a sewing machine and perhaps her own business. By not only entertaining, but also educating, Newman’s story sends the message to all that where there is a will, there is a way.

Motivated by actual students at the Jambo Jipya School in the town of Mtwapa, Kenya, where many kids are unable to go to school, Ms. Newman’s story provides inspiration to children of any age to never give up hope for a better life through education.

A lovely feature of this book are the glossary, discussion questions, and activities at the end of the book.  Although geared for younger children, the message won’t be lost on older readers.

5 of 5 – Copyright 2018 – Lightswitch Learning

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Books

Book Worm Central: July Events & Book Signings

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July 31st (10am) – Club Read – Join the Club Read group in discussing this month’s read, “Beach Music” by David Graham. The Tyler Public Library is located at 201 S. College Ave., Tyler. Club Reads’ events are free. For more info call (903)593-7323 or go to tylerlibrary.com.

August 4th (3-7pm) – Book Bash will be held at Harvey Hall Convention Center, 2000 W. Front St., Tyler. They are doubling the authors for 2018’s Book Bash – 80 authors are attending! There will be a free children’s reading at 12:30-2:30pm prior to the book signings beginning at 3pm. There will be multiple children’s authors present to read their stories and there may even be characters present to interact with the kids. Tickets will be on sale until the day of the event. Come on out and find a new favorite author as well as meet the authors behind the stories. For more info go to facebook.com/events/1715126465459268. Tickets are $12-$17. If you have a child 13 and under, they will be able to get in for $5 the day of the event. VIP tickets will get you in 30 minutes earlier and a tote bag full of goodies. The children’s reading is free to attend.

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Books

Chill Out With A Cool Book

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By Gini Rainey

Send Down the Rain – By Charles Martin 

In his thirteenth novel, this New York Times Award-winning author successfully weaves the lives of several different people into a wonderful tale of love and sacrifice that will leave you thinking.  Taking Joseph, a Viet Nam veteran with many scars to heal and Allie, who has recently lost her families business in Florida, Martin created a novel that is full of lots of raw emotion that will keep you turning pages until you come to the surprising conclusion. 

Joseph, a victim of PTSD, has chosen to live in his cabin in the Carolina mountains with his dog, Roscoe.  That is, until Catalina and her two children stumble into his life.  Making sure to get them away from her abusive, drug running captor, he loaded them up and drove them to Florida to meet up with her brother and close to where he and his brother had lived before they grew up and grew apart. 

Charles Martin has skillfully created such believable characters that you will find yourself totally immersed in the plot and all that takes place.  Without leaving your chair you will find yourself involved in the panic of flight, the angst of unrequited love, the unselfish sacrifice of a brother and the joy of rediscovering a lost love. 

This is a definite “must-read” for this summer and is guaranteed to keep you wondering until you turn 

Five of Five – Copyright 2018 – Thomas Nelson 

 

Lang’s Labyrinth: Forest of the Fae Book Three – By K. Kibbee 

This book came to me as an advanced reading copy from the publisher and because I love to read, I was excited when it arrived in the mail.  Then I realized it was “one of those books.”  You know, the kind I would never pick up on my own – one about goth, faeries, fantasy, changelings, etc.  I was also concerned that, because it was the third book in a series, I might not have a clue about what was going on. 

I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Yes, this is a book about all of the above, however, it is also, on a much deeper level, about trying to figure out a mystery that was based on a secret code.  The main character, Anne along with her best friend Grace, who has been changed into a raven, is on a quest to solve the code so she can change Grace back to human form and rid the forest of all the faeries.  Along the way she meets some very interesting characters, and believe it or not, I found myself trying my best to solve the code too.   

I won’t even begin to let on how this book turns out for that would ruin all of the mystery and intrigue that Kibbee has created, but let me say it will take you on quite the adventure and make your summer reading most enjoyable.  Remember this too, don’t be afraid to try something new – you might discover you really like it – I know I did. 

Five of Five – Copyright 2017 – Incorgnito 

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