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Thursday, July 7

Mom's Beach Reads - 2016 Version

We're starting with fiction, and then hitting non-fiction......mostly because I love a good escape when reading out on the sand.  This list of new releases is strictly for Mom!!!  (And today, I put my favorite at the top!)

The Darkness Knows (Cheryl Honigford)
It's October 1938, and radio is king. Vivian Witchell is determined to be a star, and with her new role in the popular detective serial The Darkness Knows, everything she's dreamed of is finally within her grasp. Until the night she steps into the employee lounge and stumbles upon the body of the station's biggest--and most reviled--actress. Clutched in the dead woman's hand is a threatening letter that targets Vivian as the next victim. Suddenly, Viv's biggest worry isn't remembering her lines--it's staying alive.

This author just went on my Amazon watch list - because I can't wait to see what she comes up with next! We listen to Radio Classics (old radio shows) all the time in the car - even the kids love them - and this book has the perfect mix of characters, storyline, and setting to pull it all together and make you feel as though you've walked into a 30's Noir. Loved it!

All Summer Long  (Melody Carlson)
Tia D'Amico is thrilled to move to San Francisco to help her aunt transform an old luxury yacht into an upscale floating restaurant. What's not to love? Sunset dinner cruises, upscale wedding receptions--the possibilities are endless and far more appetizing than staying in a monotonous job in her Podunk hometown. Besides, some of her best memories are tied to San Francisco--especially the memory of Leo Parker, her crush from a long-ago sailing camp.  When the self same Leo Parker turns out to be the yacht's captain, Tia is floating on air. But will it all come crashing down around her when she discovers his heart belongs to someone else?  Get ready for a romantic summer in San Francisco, where the future glistens brighter than the bay at sunset.

I loved it - but then again, with Melody Carlson, what's not to love? The story is believable, the characters are easy to relate to, and even though it's often easy to tell how the story will end, the journey itself it a trip worth taking! MC has characters that embody the good and bad of human nature, and they're all redeemed in the end. This one is going on our blog "Beach Reads' post for the summer!

One Paris Summer (Denise Grover Swank)
Most teens dream of visiting the City of Lights, but it feels more like a nightmare for Sophie Brooks. She and her brother are sent to Paris to spend the summer with their father, who left home a year ago without any explanation. As if his sudden abandonment weren't betrayal enough, he's about to remarry, and they’re expected to play nice with his soon-to-be wife and stepdaughter. The stepdaughter, Camille, agrees to show them around the city, but she makes it clear that she will do everything in her power to make Sophie miserable.  Sophie could deal with all the pain and humiliation if only she could practice piano. Her dream is to become a pianist, and she was supposed to spend the summer preparing for a scholarship competition. Even though her father moved to Paris to pursue his own dream, he clearly doesn't support hers. His promise to provide her with a piano goes unfulfilled.  Still, no one is immune to Paris’s charm. After a few encounters with a gorgeous French boy, Sophie finds herself warming to the city, particularly when she discovers that he can help her practice piano. There’s just one hitch—he’s a friend of Camille’s, and Camille hates Sophie. While the summer Sophie dreaded promises to become best summer of her life, one person could ruin it all.

While Paris is a little overdone and cliché as a romantic setting, this book didn’t disappoint.  The author does a fantastic job of showing off the City of Lights…with French lessons, French food, and tourist stops.  If you can’t go to Paris, the setting of the story will stave off your wanderlust for a bit.  This is a Young Adult book, but is a good read for moms, too.  Caveat emptor : you’ll feel about thirteen years old again – laughing, crying, being jerked around by jerks, and wanting to scratch someone’s eyes out for being a mean girl!!  Overall, it’s a very sweet story, with no sex or violence, that is appropriate and interesting for young ladies.  (It not only has mom’s seal, but a 15 year old’s seal of approval, too.)  Even better?  It’s a standalone story.

Eden Hill (Bill Higgs)
Nothing seems to change in Eden Hill, Kentucky, and that’s just fine with Virgil T. Osgood. He’s been content to raise his family and run the only service station in town. But when a new station is set to open right across the road from Virgil’s pumps, he suddenly faces obstacles in his career, his marriage, and his self-worth that he’s never even dreamed of.  Cornelius Alexander wants his new Zipco station to succeed and help establish a strong foundation for his growing family. As long as he follows the Zipco guide, he’s sure to be a success―and prove his father wrong.  Reverend Caudill wants to be a conduit for grace in his town, but that grace is challenged by the changes sweeping through in the early 1960s. For the sake of this small town, Virgil and Cornelius must learn to get along, but how do you love your neighbor when his very presence threatens to upend everything you hold dear?

Vintage, retro, call it what you like….this is the kind of story that will make you laugh out loud as you relive the nostalgia of small-town 1960’s (feel free to relive your Nick at Nite experiences, if you were too young).  You’ll also cry a little bit for the innocence that is lost.  Life was simple, friendships stayed true, and community ran deep. One thing I like is that, even though it’s written by a pastor, the book isn’t overtly religious.  Character themes, and faith, are presented through real-world situations, which makes it a good book for someone like myself who gets a little off-put by ‘preachy’ stories.  My only downside is that, until you get deep in the book, there are a lot of characters to try and keep straight.  The author introduces everyone, and then rolls with it, and I had some trouble remembering what name went with what drama at first.  …Guess I need some more small-town fence post practice.  

June (Miranda Beverly-Whittemore)
Twenty-five-year-old Cassie Danvers is holed up in her family’s crumbling mansion in rural St. Jude, Ohio, mourning the loss of the woman who raised her—her grandmother, June. But a knock on the door forces her out of isolation. Cassie has been named the sole heir to legendary matinee idol Jack Montgomery's vast fortune. How did Jack Montgomery know her name? Could he have crossed paths with her grandmother all those years ago? What other shocking secrets could June’s once-stately mansion hold?  Soon Jack’s famous daughters come knocking, determined to wrestle Cassie away from the inheritance they feel is their due. Together, they all come to discover the true reasons for June’s silence about that long-ago summer, when Hollywood came to town, and June and Jack’s lives were forever altered by murder, blackmail, and betrayal. As this page-turner shifts deftly between the past and present, Cassie and her guests will be forced to reexamine their legacies, their definition of family, and what it truly means to love someone, steadfastly, across the ages.

I had a lot of trouble getting into this book, and almost cut my losses several times, but finally plowed through to the end.  It’s only once reaching the end that I was able to really understand everything that had happened in the book.  I’m still not sure if I’m happy that I finished it or not.  It has some great vintage descriptions, which are nice – vintage is always good.  But the twisting and turning and looping back on itself…it just seemed like overkill.  There was a simple solution at the beginning of the book that the practical side of me screamed for – but if the main character had chosen that route, there would be no book, so there you go.  I don’t know…the book just was way too long and not at all believable.  But that’s my opinion.  You might love it!

Give Your Child the World (Jamie C. Martin)
Featuring a carefully curated reading treasury of the best children's literature for each area of the globe, as well as practical parenting suggestions and inspiration, Give Your Child the World helps moms and dads raise insightful, compassionate kids who fall in love with the world and are prepared to change it for good. Young children live with awe and wonder as their daily companions. But as they grow, worries often crowd out wonder. Knowing this, how can parents strengthen their kids' love for the world so it sticks around for the long haul?  Thankfully, parents have at their fingertips a miracle vaccine--one that can boost their kids' immunity to the world's distractions - Stories.  Well-chosen stories connect us with others, even those on the other side of the globe. Build your kids' lives on a story-solid foundation and you'll give them armor to shield themselves from the world's cynicism. You'll give them confidence to persevere in the face of life's conflicts. You'll give them a reservoir of compassion that spills over into a lifetime of love in action.  Give Your Child the World includes more than 600 children's book recommendations from around the world. Reading lists are organized by region, country, and age range (ages 4-12). Each listing includes a brief description of the book, its themes, and any content of which parents should be aware.  Parents can introduce their children to the world from the comfort of home by simply opening a book together. Give Your Child the World is poised to become a bestselling family reading treasury that promotes literacy, develops a global perspective, and strengthens family bonds while increasing faith and compassion.

A lot of work went into creating this book, and it shows.  Each listing provides the book’s synopsis, pertinent information, and notes that may interest parents about the book.  All of the continents (excepting Antarctica) are covered, and all regions of the globe.  It truly is a great resource for raising a global child.  Also, the author not only spent a lot of time curating her group of stories from around the world, but she has very handily provided several different systems of organization through the various indices in the back of the book.  You can look them up by geography, theme, or age / interest level, just to name a few.

Our Founding Fathers rejected the notion of royalty and fought against extravagance, pomp, and circumstance. But today in Washington, members of the United States government enjoy lifestyle perks that would make Marie Antoinette envious. Our public servants are chauffeured to their Capitol Hill offices by town cars even when they live only two blocks away. They enjoy their own taxpayer-subsidized Senate Hair Care Services, vacation with their families in exotic locations for free, and exempt themselves and their friends from the laws that they create.   In Barons of the Beltway, Fox News contributor Michelle Fields exposes the hidden perks, the freebies, and the ego stroking that define life for a political class that is out of touch and out to lunch. Put under the spotlight are figures such as Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, and Vice President Joe Biden, who continue to abuse their power, build their personal fortunes, and climb up the Washington ladder. And, while our Founding Fathers started a revolution to break away from a monarchy, it's clear that America is beginning to have one of its own.  Barons of the Beltway reveals how to overthrow our political class in order to return to the principles the Founding Fathers originally envisioned for America—a country of greater opportunity that we can pass onto the next generations.

There’s very little good for me to say about this book…..and my momma told me that if I didn’t have anything nice to say, then I shouldn’t say anything at all.  But, you’re not me.  You might like it.

I received many, but not all, of these books in exchange for an honest review.  I tell it like it is.  And some of these I just enjoyed enough from my own pocket to want to share with you!!

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