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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

LSBBT BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: Finding Esme by Suzanne Crowley (Middle Grade)


FINDING ESME
by
SUZANNE CROWLEY

Genre: Middle Grade (3-7) / Magical Realism / Family & Loss
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Date of Publication: August 14, 2018
Number of Pages: 288


SCROLL DOWN FOR THE GIVEAWAY!







Twelve-year-old Esme’s life changes when she discovers dinosaur bones on her family’s peach farm in Texas.

After her grandfather died from a heart attack while driving his tractor on Solace Hill, Esme's been inextricably drawn to that spot, although her grandmother warns her to stay away.

But when she follows her little brother, Bo, and her dog, Old Jack, up the hill while chasing fireflies, she makes an incredible discovery—dinosaur bones peeking out from underneath the abandoned tractor. The bones must be a message from her grandfather, a connection from beyond the grave. But when word gets out that the farm is hiding something valuable, reporters, researchers, and neighbors arrive in droves. Esme struggles to understand who has her best interests at heart, especially as the memory of her grandfather begins to slip away.

Full of friendship and adventure, and featuring a palpable Texas setting, Finding Esme is a moving and heartfelt story about family, friendship, and learning to deal with loss.

PRAISE & HONORS FOR FINDING ESME:

“Esme is a brave, appealing heroine with the odds stacked against her… Bad blood and layered family secrets drive this story to its ultimately optimistic and satisfying conclusion.” -- Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)  
“Esme McCauley is a lonely but spirited 12-year-old who feels nothing ever happens to her the way it’s supposed to...A poignant tale for readers who enjoy character-driven realism.” -- School Library Journal

“Readers muddling through preteen changes or unstable family lives will identify with Esme’s struggles, but the thrill of discovery will appeal to most.” -- Booklist
Texas Library Association 2019 Spirit of Texas (SPOT) reading program selection






This is an incredibly charming story with the feel of a classic that is timeless and meant to be shared across generations. Catching your attention from the opening line, the author's writing is captivating as it draws readers into sharing this once in a lifetime moment with Esme. Though written with children in mind, this is quite a phenomenal coming of age tale layered in an adult style that will resonate with older readers as well.

"Sometimes you find what you don't want to find."

Digging into secrets that perhaps she shouldn't be, Esme uncovers her own secret: a dinosaur bone. Located on Solace Hill, Esme has finally found her own solace on this very spot that also marks the sudden death of her grandfather, the only person Esme feels every truly loved and cared for her. Esme's grandmother, Bee, specializes in finding things, but Esme knows Bee hasn't found Esme's missing father nor a way to save the family's farm. Though she would love nothing more than to keep this discovery all to herself, the weight of the world seems to rest on her tiny shoulders, and she can't help but think that maybe this secret might just be the good something her family needs to make up for all the bad somethings that never stop coming. 

"'You came out like you were already grown-up, Esme McCauley, even though you were half as big as a minute.'"

With an eclectic and uniquely named cast of characters, the people of Paradise are well developed and add so much dimension to this quirky village. Such variety also brings a range of emotions that are felt just as fervently right along with Esme. Her voice is strong and steady, but buried beneath that tough facade, is still a pre-teen girl navigating feelings of doubt, fear, anxiety, and trust alone. We are reminded of our own experiences, yet rather than mire the narrative down in melancholy, the author beautifully sprinkles moments of tenderness and grace to remind us all that hope is never lost.

"Bee always said our sorrows were linked together one after another. But I didn't believe that anymore. I think God mixed our joys and sorrows together in the sweet far in-between, where they hid from us like shy ghosts, just beyond our reach."

Ultimately, this is a remarkable selection to connect multi-generational families and demonstrates the magic of a well-crafted story that centers on family, friendship, loss, and courage.





Suzanne Crowley is the author of two acclaimed novels for young readers, The Very Ordered Existence of Merilee Marvelous and The Stolen One. The author, who is also a miniaturist and dollhouse collector whose work has graced the covers of magazines worldwide, was born in a small town in Texas and lives in Southlake, Texas. When not hugging her dog or imbibing in chocolate, she can often be found taking a nap.




TWO READERS EACH WIN A SIGNED COPY OF FINDING ESME, TWO CANDLES, BOOKMARKS, FUN FACT CARDS, AND A PEN!
February 11-21, 2020
(U.S. Only)


a Rafflecopter giveaway   Best of luck!

Many thanks again to Lone Star Book Blog Tours and the author! It was a pleasure reading, reviewing, and hosting! And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for more opinions and author extras!

VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
2/11/20
Review
2/11/20
Review
2/12/20
Audio Review
2/12/20
Review
2/13/20
Review
2/14/20
Review
2/14/20
Review
2/15/20
Review
2/16/20
Review
2/17/20
Review
2/17/20
Review
2/18/20
Review
2/19/20
Review
2/20/20
Review
2/20/20
Audio Review

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Wednesday, February 12, 2020

LSBBT BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: Collision of Lies by Tom Threadgill (Christian Suspense)


COLLISION OF LIES
(Detective Amara Alvarez, Book One)
by
TOM THREADGILL
   
Genre: Contemporary Christian Suspense
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: February 4, 2020
Number of Pages: 400


SCROLL DOWN FOR THE GIVEAWAY!






Three years ago, a collision between a fast-moving freight train and a school bus full of kids led to devastation and grief on an unimaginable scale. But a fresh clue leads San Antonio police detective Amara Alvarez to the unlikely conclusion that one of the children may still be alive. If she's correct, everything law enforcement believes about the accident is a lie.

With time running out, Amara must convince others--and herself--that despite all evidence to the contrary, the boy lives. And she will do everything in her power to bring him home.

A fresh voice in suspense, Tom Threadgill will have you questioning everything as you fly through the pages of this enthralling story.

PRAISE FOR COLLISION OF LIES:

"Threadgill plunges a detective from the San Antonio Property Crimes Division into a deep-laid plot involving murder, kidnapping, and myriad other crimes above her pay grade."
-- Kirkus Review

"I have a new favorite author. Tom Threadgill kept me reading for hours. I didn't want to put this book down . . . couldn't put it down. I absolutely adore Amara Alvarez and her relationships with her coworkers, friends, and her iguana! Now I want one. She was a heroine who made me laugh and one I could really relate to. I can think of a few words to describe this book: amazing, incredible, intriguing, mesmerizing, unputdownable. . . I could go on, but I need to stop so I can go buy up the entire backlist of my new favorite author." -- Lynette Eason, award-winning, bestselling author of the Blue Justice Series

CLICK TO PURCHASE






This year is churning out remarkable reading experiences, and this latest read is by far one of my favorites!

With an opening chapter that grabs hold of you and doesn't let go until its very contemplative ending, this book will take you on a ride unlike any other. It's hard for me to believe that my reflections on this story will adequately give it the justice it so deeply deserves. There is so much to unpack, but as with any thriller or mystery, it's best to go into it with as little information as possible in order to feel the complete impact this book has to offer. However, with every ounce of bias I have, let's just say that I was blown away! 

"I feel like this whole thing is right there on the fringes. Like some great conspiracy that's got just enough semi-facts to make it plausible, but not enough to make it believable."

Masterfully told, this intricate plot posits the idea that perhaps the most tragic accident the town of Cotulla ever experienced may have in fact been a lie. Three years after those catastrophic events, a victim's family receives an unknown text simply stating "Help me, Mom." What initially begins as a quiet, internal examination into a potentially bad prank gradually unleashes a torrent of law enforcement expertise to unveil an extensive cover up. With immense compassion and the right amount of curiosity, detective Amara Alvarez solidifies her footprint among other great female investigators in the suspense genre. This story is smart, perceptive, riveting, fast paced, and incredibly hard to put down. Short, suspense filled chapters keep the pace moving at breakneck speed and the pages flying!

Readers follow Amara in this spectacular view of the criminal investigation as well as bearing witness in her pursuit towards becoming a homicide detective, a vastly different line of work than her current assignment in property crimes. All along the way, we see how committed she is to her profession and the proficiency she displays that will continue to make her successful. This opportunity to watch the case unfold alongside Amara is captivating to read and will tug at every emotion. There is a sneak peek into the next book of the series, which I CANNOT wait for now! Especially to see more of the ME, Dr. Pritchard, an eccentric individual with an affinity for explaining idioms and developing creative methods to enjoy annoyingly messy snacks. Every character has a personality, and it will be hard not to enjoy every minute of their company.

Though the book is published by a Christian fiction publisher, the story will have you reevaluating any preconceived notions you might have had about that label. In an author interview for a previous post on the blog tour, which you can check out HERE, the author states that while his faith dictates how he will write, it doesn't include a heavy dose of religion: "I'm writing to entertain, not convert, and trying to be true to what I believe." In his hands, the author's deft storytelling has crafted a narrative to rival the more mainstream bestsellers without graphic language, sex, or violence. 

This book delivers thrilling suspense and action that keeps coming to the very end and should not be missed!








Tom Threadgill is a full-time author and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). He is currently on the suspense/thriller publishing board for LPC Books, a division of Iron Stream Media. He lives with his wife in rural Tennessee.

WebsiteFacebook ⬥ TwitterBookBub



GRAND PRIZE: Copy of Collision of Lies + $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card  
SECOND PRIZE: Copy of Collision of Lies + Composition Notebook Pouch
THIRD PRIZE: Copy of Collision of Lies February 6-16, 2020
(U.S. Only)
   

a Rafflecopter giveaway  Best of luck!

Many thanks again to Lone Star Book Blog Tours and the author! It was a pleasure reading, reviewing, and hosting! And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for more opinions and author extras!


VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
2/6/20
Notable Quotable
2/6/20
BONUS Post
2/7/20
Review
2/8/20
Guest Post
2/9/20
Author Interview
2/10/20
Review
2/11/20
Excerpt
2/12/20
Review
2/13/20
Excerpt
2/14/20
Review
2/15/20
Review

   blog tour services provided by
 

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

LSBBT BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: Yeah, But I Didn't by Ann Swann (Young Adult)


YEAH, BUT I DIDN'T
by
ANN SWANN

Genre: Young Adult / Coming of Age / Bullying
Publisher: Wordcrafts Press
Publication Date: November 12, 2019
Number of Pages: 274 pages 


SCROLL DOWN FOR THE GIVEAWAY!






The first rung: the betrayal.

The second rung: the assault.

The third rung: the rumors.

The fourth rung: the painting.

The final rung: no other way out.

Betrayed, bullied, and battered emotionally, physically, and spiritually, Benji's life spirals out of control. She is certain there is nowhere to turn and nothing to live for. Yet in the midst of the darkness there appears a ray of hope in the Yeah, But I Didn't therapy group.

PRAISE:

Ann Swann delivers a harrowing emotional tale that offers messages of hope and renewal of spirit despite some of the darkest times that life can throw at us.  -- 5 STARS, Readers' Favorite




PURCHASE THE BOOK
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This is a profound, yet brutally relevant coming-of-age story that chronicles deeply disturbing moments in Benji's life. Told in first person, the reader will walk right alongside Benji, witnessing every moment and feeling every troubling emotion. It's incredibly difficult not to be gripped from the very beginning, yet so many tragic circumstances surround this family that I often found myself taking breaks just to process the intensity of it all. Gritty subject matter abounds in this story:  sexual assault, suicide, teen pregnancy, bullying, and divorce. These topics do not lend themselves to easy reads obviously; however, reading Benji's story is certainly worth every uncomfortable moment, and the author handles each with incredible grace, thoughtfulness, and with an authentic voice that will resonate with the young readers it needs to reach.

"You can't control everything around you - or even how others treat you - but you can control how you react. And that's how you take back your power."

Though Benji finds herself facing one devastating circumstance after another, readers will begin to see a mirror that reflects back their own harrowing experiences and individual responses to each event. They may not be similar, but unfortunately, no one is immune to bad things happening to them, and many often find themselves on the receiving end of one awful moment after another. Benji learns far too early about this gruesome reality, but the decisions she makes afterwards provide readers with the opportunity to safely discuss their own reactions. These issues are not pleasant to talk about, but not talking about them is not going to make them go away. Communication is important, and while it may not have changed events from occurring, it certainly gives us someone to reach for when it feels like there is nothing or no one left. The story is extremely thought-provoking and calls on readers to examine their own ideas on empathy, compassion, and connection.

"Be kind to everyone you meet, you don't know what they're facing at home."

This story certainly paints a realistic portrait of the after effects of a trauma in regards to relationships with family and friends as well as to the body itself. Healing is often just as hard as feeling overpowered and overwhelmed. Benji's vulnerability sheds light on this painful process towards reconciliation with not only herself, but those around her as well. 

Overall, this powerful story is tragic and tender. Along with Benji, I never stopped feeling something - sadness, frustration, anger, concern, shock, pain, surprise, and eventually, hope, and I doubt you will either. 





Ann has been a writer since junior high school, but to pay the bills she has waited tables, delivered newspapers, cleaned other people's houses, taught school, and had a short stint as a secretary in a rock-n-roll radio station. She also worked as a 911 operator and a police dispatcher. 

Her fiction began to win awards during her college days. Since then she's published quite a few short stories, novels, and novellas. But even if no one ever bought another book, Ann would not stop writing. She says it's a necessity, like breathing. Most of the time, it even keeps her sane.


WEBSITE  ║  FACEBOOK  ║  PINTEREST
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GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!
One Autographed Hardcover Copy
February 4-13, 2020
(US Addresses Only)


a Rafflecopter giveaway  Best of luck!

Many thanks again to Lone Star Book Blog Tours and the author! It was a pleasure reading, reviewing, and hosting! And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for more opinions!

VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
2/4/20
Review
2/4/20
BONUS Post
2/5/20
Review
2/6/20
Promo Post
2/7/20
Review
2/8/20
Review

   blog tour services provided by
  

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