The Memory of Us by Camille DiMaio

51-g1gh-lflI received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Memory of Us was written by debut author Camille DiMaio. One of the first scenes involves protagonist Julianne visiting her twin brother at the institution that serves as his home. Julianne is not supposed to know that her brother exists; not only is she aware of him, she also makes regular clandestine visits to spend time with him. This defiance of convention and of parental wishes sets the tone for the rest of the book.

It is at Bootle House that Julianne first encounters Kyle McCarthy. Julianne is accustomed to moving in the upper echelons of Liverpool society, and Kyle is completely like any of the other boys that she knows. Not only is he an Irish Catholic, but he also attends a seminary and intends to become a priest. Read more

Beware That Girl by Teresa Toten

41u7xy0kizlI received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Beware That Girl is a YA psychological thriller by Teresa Toten. Kate O’Brian is a girl with a past. When we first Kate, she’s living in a hovel, but preparing to start her senior year at Waverly, a Manhattan girl’s school. Kate is confident, and Kate has aspirations for greatness. Part of Kate’s plan involves befriending Olivia Sumner, a former “it girl” who is now only a fragile shell of what she used to be.

It seems clear that Kate plans to use Olivia to further her own agenda, but that’s not quite what’s happening at all. As Kate becomes comfortable moving in Olivia’s circle, there is a dangerous new staff member whose obsession with the girls might ruin everything Kate has worked so hard to achieve. Read more

The Underdogs by Sara Hammel

51k6b112r5lI received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My oldest daughter is nine years old, and she and I are very fortunate to have received the opportunity to read ARCs of some middle grade books. When I first read the synopsis of Sara Hammel’s The Underdogs, I knew that I would like it, but I wasn’t sure how my daughter would react. She tends to be a sensitive soul, but we had enjoyed reading Isabel Feeney, Star Reporter– which is also about a murder mystery- so I gave it a shot.

Chelsea and Evie are best friends, who spend their days together at a tennis club. Chelsea’s mom works at the front desk, and Evie’s dad is a tennis pro. Their club is rocked to its core when one of the most popular members is found murdered. Annabel Harper was beautiful and vivacious, and did not seem to have any enemies. Chelsea and Evie are stunned, and they decide that it’s up to them to help the police solve the case. As they follow the detective around the club, the two girls discover that the club holds many secrets- but none of these secrets seem to lead the girls any closer to discovering who could have killed Annabel. Read more

I Thee Wed by Celeste Bradley

517cudu1fqlI received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review

I have not read any of Celeste Bradley’s books before, but I enjoy historical romances set in the Regency era, so I was excited about reading I Thee Wed.

This is the fourth book in the Wicked Worthingtons series, which follows the exploits of the Worthingtons, a family with eight children. Each book is devoted to one of the siblings, and follows his/her love story.

The books function reasonably well as stand-alones. I did not have to read the previous books in the series to get the sense that Orion Worthington wants to distance himself from his family. He loves his family, of course, but he has chosen a career in science, and that is very different than their penchant for being free-spirited. Read more

The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox

41ijyi-d4ulI had been eagerly awaiting The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle, and was very excited when I finally had time to read it. This middle grade novel was written by Janet Fox.

Katherine Bateson and her siblings are sent to north to Scotland and Rookskill Castle to escape the London Blitz. They are joined by several other children, and they are all the guests of Lady Eleanor, who had graciously turned her manor house into a school for the children. Read more

Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary

51zrwbgzfdlMy twins are going to be seven years old in a couple of weeks, and it’s hard to believe. They are growing up so quickly- what happened to my babies? They have always loved reading and listening to stories, but up until recently, we have always chosen picture books. I thought they were ready for chapter books, so we started reading Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary.

Ramona the Pest was first written almost fifty years ago, but it has not lost its charm. I remember loving the Ramona books when I was a child, and I was so excited to share them with my girls. Read more

The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell

611eueyzcylI received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  The Girls in the Garden will be available on June 7th, 2016.

The Girls in the Garden is author Lisa Jewell’s latest book, and begins with the discovery of a young girl in a London park. She has been hurt, and possibly also assaulted. Who could have done this to her?

The plot shifts to “Before” the incident. Sisters Pip and Grace have just moved with their mother Clare to a new home that opens up to a private park. They meet the other families who live in the nearby houses; there are several other children around the same age as the girls, and friendships are formed. Read more

Nannyland by Jane Elizabeth Hughes

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

I’m a huge Anglophile, so I was very excited about the opportunity to read Nannyland by Jane Elizabeth Hughes. I have enjoyed several versions of the “lord of the manor falls in love with the governess” in historical romance, and I was interested to see how this would scenario would play out in a contemporary novel.

Jordan Greene is not actually the nanny. Well, she is, but that’s a long story. Jordan fled NYC and her career in finance after being fired from her job. She settles in the gatekeeper’s cottage on an English estate, and prepares to write her tell-all book. She inadvertently becomes the nanny while helping to search for a more permanent nanny. Read more

The Neverland Wars by Audrey Greathouse

51qrvdfllvl-_sx322_bo1204203200_I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Neverland Wars is a YA fantasy written by Audrey Greathouse. The title gives away a rather big clue about what the story is really about, but the plot starts out like so many other YA novels. Gwen is an average girl in an average town. She goes to high school, interacts with her friends, and she even has a crush on a boy.

But all that changes when Gwen’s little sister Rosemary is kidnapped. Her parents are forced to admit that magic is a very real and very dangerous force. As they worry about when Rose will come home, Gwen comes face-to-face with the kidnapper- the infamous Peter Pan. Read more

The Thank You Book by Mo Willems

510oaysl4alMy girls have been fans of the Elephant & Piggie series for about five years. We have almost all of the books in the series; they have helped all three of them learn to read. We were very sad when we heard that The Thank You Book would be the last Elephant & Piggie book, and we were looking forward to one last funny story with Piggie and Gerald.

As The Thank You Book begins, Piggie declares that she is going to thank everyone who has helped her. Gerald worries that she is going to forget someone, but Piggie insists that she will not.

And then Piggie proceeded to thank every secondary character in the entire series, and I tried not to cry. They are all there, and fans of the series (like my girls) will enjoy seeing familiar friends. Gerald continues to worry that Piggie will forget someone- who could she possibly be forgetting that thank? Read more