Time of Fog and Fire by Rhys Bowen

51n2bywxp8rlI received a copy of the Audible edition of Time of Fog and Fire in exchange for an honest review.

I am a big fan of Rhys Bowen’s Molly Murphy mysteries, and I have listened to the audiobook versions of some of them. I have enjoyed my previous experiences, so I was excited about the opportunity to listen to Time of Fog and Fire.

Molly (Murphy) Sullivan has halfheartedly tried to put her detective work behind her in the years following her marriage and the birth of her son, but there is always a mystery to be solved. An acquaintance insists that she has seen her husband in a newsreel featuring San Francisco, but he had no plans to be in San Francisco. Molly agrees to watch the newsreel, and is shocked to see her own Daniel in the newsreel as well. Molly knows Daniel is on assignment, but he is not supposed to be in San Francisco either. As if that were not odd enough, Molly receives an odd letter from Daniel saying things that seem very out of character. Read more

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A Lady in the Smoke by Karen Odden

51he9ikahul-_sy346_I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

A Lady in the Smoke is a Victorian mystery written by Karen Odden. As the story begins, Lady Elizabeth Fraser is traveling to her family’s estate with her mother when their train crashes. Lady Elizabeth and her mother receive minor injuries, and spend some time recuperating at a local hotel. She becomes acquainted with Paul Wilcox, a surgeon who specializes in railway accidents. Read more

Maybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt & Alison McGhee

51fyq0arfrlI received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My oldest daughter is almost nine years old, and she has been helping me by reading the middle grade ARCs with me. We recently read Maybe a Fox, which is a collaboration between Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee.

Sylvie and Jules are sisters growing up in Vermont. They live with their father, and they have a shared best friend named Sam- Super Friend Sam. Jules loves collecting rocks, and Sylvie loves running.   One day, Sylvie runs so fast that she disappears, and Jules doesn’t know what to do without her beloved sister.

At the same time, a little baby fox is born. She knows that she is here for a purpose, and as she acclimates herself to the world, she tries to discover what that purpose is. Read more

Sparky! by Jenny Offill

51m2bitpuoelMy daughters and I found Sparky! at our town library. I have vague recollections of having heard of this book, but we have never read it. Sparky! is a picture book written by Jenny Offill and illustrated by Chris Appelhans.

As the story begins, our narrator is asking for a pet. Her mother says that she can only have a pet that “doesn’t need to be walked or bathed or fed.” Well, our narrator is clever, and after doing some research, she concludes that a sloth meets those restrictions.

The little girl is not sure what to make of her new sloth, who she names “Sparky”. She tries to play games with him, but Sparky is not very good at games. After Mary Potts, a classmate/frenemy tells the girl that her pets know tricks, the girl insists that Sparky knows tricks too. She decides to put on an Extravaganza featuring Sparky- can she teach Sparky to do amazing tricks in a week? Read more

Big Nate: Thunka, Thunka, Thunka by Lincoln Peirce

819wgp58dblI received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My oldest daughter has always been a fan of comic strips like Calvin & Hobbes, Foxtrot, and Peanuts. One of her most favorite strips is Lincoln Peirce’s Big Nate series, so she was very excited when I received the opportunity to read Big Nate: Thunka, Thunka, Thunka.

Nate is a sixth grade boy, and he’s easy for kids to relate to. He has some sarcastic comments to make about school, he hangs out with his friends, and he plays sports.

We have several of the Big Nate books, and what my daughter (and I) like about them is that there is a punchline on just about every page, but Peirce is also building larger storylines Read more

A Friend for Mole by Nancy Armo

51a2b2b2bpp0olI received this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My daughters love reading books. We almost always order something from the Scholastic flier at school each month, and we all have piles of books from the library and overflowing bookshelves. They read themselves to sleep each night. I appreciate the opportunity to read new books via Netgalley, and I was very excited about this book.

A Friend for Mole is a picture book by Nancy Armo. The story begins with a little mole getting a little too curious and venturing aboveground and away from the safety of his dark burrow. The bright sunlight hurts his eyes, but he manages to stumble into a bush. At nighttime, he finds himself lost and unable to find his way home. Mole meets a little wolf, who is lost and afraid of the dark. Can these two unlikely friends help each other or are they just too different? Read more

Tru and Nelle by G. Neri

51tb2cayyflI received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My oldest daughter is almost nine years old, and she is in the third grade. She is a voracious reader, and I have asked her to help me with the middle grade books that I receive advanced copies of.

We recently read Tru and Nelle by G. Neri. This is a fictional account of the real childhood friendship between Truman Capote and Harper Lee. We finished reading a few days before Harper Lee passed away, and this book had such a profound affect on my daughter that the news of Lee’s passing brought her to tears.

When they first meet, Tru is a fastidious little boy, and Nelle is clad in dirty overalls. These two children don’t seem like they have much in common, but they bond over their love of books and their family woes: Nelle’s mother spends much of her time in various hospitals, and Tru’s parents have virtually abandoned him. Tru and Nelle have all sorts of adventures in Monroeville, Alabama, including opening a detective agency and trying to track down a mysterious vandal. At the end of the book, there are a handful of anecdotes. These short stories didn’t fit into the main narrative, although there are some plot elements that are alluded to in the main story.       Read more

Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor

51kf8h1todlI received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

When I heard about Into the Dim over on Netgalley, my interest was piqued. This book is a young adult novel written by Janet B. Taylor. It’s been described as a YA version of Outlander. YA? Outlander? Sign me up!

So right away, I should point out that although our heroine begins her journey in Scotland, she travels back to 1154 London, and the coronation of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine rather than 18th century Scotland like Outlander.

Hope Walton has just buried her mother, who has been missing and presumed dead for seven months. Her stepfather has moved on, and he already has a new girlfriend. His mother- ostensibly Hope’s grandmother since she was five years old- hates her. So, when Hope receives an invitation to visit an aunt she has never met in Scotland, it seems like a good opportunity. Read more

Bears Make the Best Reading Buddies by Carmen Oliver

81hx5wesoflI received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My daughters love reading as much as I do. We have seven bookshelves in our house, and there are still books on the floor! I constantly have to remind them to not leave books in their beds. I could go on, but that would turn this into a blog post rather than a review.

I received an opportunity to read Bears Make the Best Reading Buddies. This is the debut work of author Carmen Oliver. I was very excited about sharing the book with my daughters. They are in first grade and third grade, and their language arts curriculum includes something called “Daily 5”. Each day, the children choose two or three different activities to enhance their reading and writing. One of these activities is “Read to Someone”. This consists of picking a partner, sitting elbow to elbow and knee to knee, and reading together. Read more

Isabel Feeney, Star Reporter by Beth Fantaskey

51wysrnge2blI received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Isabel Feeney, Star Reporter is a middle grade novel written by Beth Fantaskey. Its narrator and protagonist is Isabel Feeney, a ten year old girl who works as a newspaper girl working in 1920s Chicago. One evening, she witnesses one of her regular customers greet a man and walk into an alley. Seconds later, Isabel hears a gunshot, and when she rushes to the alley, Miss Giddings is standing in the alley, and the man is lying on the ground- dead.

Of course, it seems like Miss Giddings shot the man, who turns out to be a part-time gangster. Detective Culhane thinks that she did it, and so does newspaper reporter Maude Collier. But Isabel knows that her friend Miss Giddings is innocent, and she is determined to prove it. Isabel might have to work to help her single mother earn money instead of going to school, but she knows that she has what it takes to be a newspaper reporter- just like her idol Maude Collier. And so, Isabel Feeney sticks her nose where it doesn’t belong, all in the name of justice for her friend Miss Giddings. Read more