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Thursday, March 26, 2020

LSBBT BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: Blue Skies by Anne Bustard (Middle Grade)

Anne Bustard

Genre:  Middle Grade / Historical Fiction
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Date of Publication: March 17, 2020
Number of Pages: 224


For fans of Louisiana’s Way Home, this heartwarming novel tells the story of ten-year-old Glory Bea as she prepares for a miracle of her very own—her father’s return home.

Glory Bea Bennett knows that miracles happen in Gladiola, Texas, population 3,421. After all, her grandmother—the best matchmaker in the whole county—is responsible for thirty-nine of them.

Now, Glory Bea needs a miracle of her own. 

The war ended three years ago, but Glory Bea’s father never returned home from the front in France. Glory Bea understands what Mama and Grams and Grandpa say—that Daddy died a hero on Omaha Beach—yet deep down in her heart, she believes Daddy is still out there. 

When the Gladiola Gazette reports that one of the boxcars from the Merci Train (the “thank you” train)—a train filled with gifts of gratitude from the people of France—will be stopping in Gladiola, she just knows daddy will be its surprise cargo.

But miracles, like people, are always changing, until at last they find their way home


“I loved Blue Skies so much I couldn’t bear for it to end.” --Patricia Reilly Giff, Newbery Honor author of Lily’s Crossing and Pictures of Hollis Woods

“A heart-warming (and occasionally heart-wrenching) delight of a book . . .” --Joy Preble, Brazos Bookstore

"A tender story of grief and the gentle comfort of loved ones." -- Kirkus Reviews

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Wow. I am speechless. What an absolutely beautiful and touching tribute to such a heartbreaking time in our world's history.

Eleven-year-old Glory Bea believes in miracles, and though her father has not returned from the fighting that occurred at Omaha Beach, she is convinced that he is coming home with the Gratitude Train as it makes its stops across Texas. I had a feeling I was in for some tears, but when the moment happens, and you'll definitely know when, I was overwhelmed with so much emotion for not only this young girl understanding her father's absence, but also as the spouse to a service member who has been on many combat tours where the threat of death is very much a possibility. I couldn't help but feel instantly connected with Glory Bea and her hopeful assurance that everything was going to be just as it once was. Over the course of my husband's deployments, most recently while having a 4 year-old, 2 year-old, and newborn on my hands, I have constantly been asked "How do you do it?" And the answer has always been, I just do. Like Glory Bea, you hold onto a miracle as tightly as you can. The resonating and steadfast strength of faith beats strongly because there simply isn't time for anything else. While death or disability is something that you can conceptualize, your mind won't allow you to go to that place, but God forbid that it should ever happen to my family, I pray that my children and I can face it with half as much grace as Glory Bea and her family. 

Stepping back from my emotional attachment to the story, this is very much a testament to fantastic middle grade literature. The historical setting shines in the background, allowing young modern readers to focus on Glory Bea and her own coming of age as she navigates life, love, and loss. Change is coming for Glory Bea whether she is ready for it or not, and it's a breathtaking delight to walk beside her while it happens. The family dynamics across all characters are incredible to witness. Glory Bea's grandparents are amazing role models for the entire community and do their best to fill in the gaps left by an entire generation of young adults still reeling from the horrors of war.

The gorgeous and whimsical cover can't help but lure you to pick up the book, but the precious story of Glory Bea and her family will undoubtedly captivate you to the very end. I would love to see more of these stories from the author featuring engaging and spunky main characters during monumental and interesting historical moments throughout our country's past. This poignant novel celebrates the love between a parent and child that never ends, the promise of new connections, and is highly recommended to all readers young and old.

Anne Bustard is the former co-owner of Toad Hall Children’s Bookstore in Austin, Texas, and an MFA graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is the author of the middle grade novel, Anywhere But Paradise, as well as two picture books, RAD! and Buddy: The Story of Buddy Holly, which was an IRA Children’s Book Award Notable and a Bank Street Book of the Year. Hawaii-born, she divides her time between Texas and Canada.

Website  ║  Facebook  ║  Pinterest  ║  Twitter  ║  Goodreads

Each receive a signed copy of Blue Skies 
March 17-March 27, 2020

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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!

Notable Quotable
Author Interview
Guest Post
Top Ten List

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Monday, March 23, 2020

BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: Problem Child by Victoria Helen Stone (Thriller)

A Jane Doe Thriller
Victoria Helen Stone

Genre: Thriller 
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Date of Publication: March 24, 2020
Number of Pages: 265

Scroll down for the giveaway!

She’s cold, calculating, and can deceive with a smile. Jane Doe is back in the Amazon Charts bestselling series—and this time she’s met her match.

After a brutal childhood, Jane Doe has been permanently wired to look after herself and only herself. Now, looking next to normal, Jane has a lover and a job. But she hasn’t lost her edge. It sharpens when she hears from her estranged family.

Jane’s deeply troubled sixteen-year-old niece, Kayla, has vanished, and no one seems to care. Neither does Jane. Until she sees a picture of Kayla and recognizes herself in the young girl’s eyes. It’s the empty stare of a sociopath. Jane knows what vengeful and desperate things Kayla is capable of. Only Jane can help her—by being drawn into Kayla’s dark world. And no one’s more aware than Jane just how dangerous that can be.

Everyone's favorite sociopath is back in this second installment, and she may have just met her match! It's definitely recommended that you start with JANE DOE, the first book, simply to understand her behavior and motivations. Jane is unapologetic about who she is and lacks any expression of emotion, making her the perfect character to wade through with in a thriller. You'll want her in your life, but just remember, you better be on her side or get out of the way!

Traveling back to her hometown in a search for her missing niece, Jane revisits the people and places that essentially made her who she is today. Her drive to succeed is as much about survival as it is proving everyone wrong for the horrible behavior that was inflicted upon her. She freely admits that her life could have gone in a completely different direction; however, she made it a point to learn how to play the system in order to get ahead and leave them all behind. They will never be held accountable for what they have done, but Jane's memory is long and watching them beg for her help now is a thrilling part of her game. 

It was incredibly fascinating to watch Jane's interactions with various characters across the story. She has a way of manipulating connections to her benefit, while having such an interesting outlook on how the world works. She's spent a lifetime studying people in order to appear like everyone else, so it only takes a minute to flip the situation to her favor without the other person ever being the wiser. The twist adds a clever moment to make Jane consider whether she really has it all figured out as much as she prides herself to believe. I can't wait to find out where this will go next!

The author doesn't shy away from difficult topics of discussion, especially when it came to sexual exploitation or gratification. The tension is fantastically built because there is always this sense of dread that something awful is brewing in the background. Jane's reflections throughout the story on misogyny are absolutely profound, especially for female readers who will strongly identify with a lot of what is said.

Overall, this is a fast-paced, entertaining, and page-turning story that will have you holding your breath for its unexpected and jaw-dropping conclusion!

I received a copy of this book for free. This is my honest and thoughtful review.

Victoria Helen Stone, formerly writing as USA Today bestselling novelist Victoria Dahl, is originally from the Midwest but now writes from an upstairs office high in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah. After a career in romance that included the American Library Association’s prestigious Reading List Award, she turned toward the darker side of fiction and has written the critically acclaimed novels, Evelyn, AfterHalf Past; and False Step. Her Amazon Charts bestselling thriller Jane Doe has been optioned by Sony Television.

a Rafflecopter giveaway  Best of luck!

Many thanks again to Great Escapes Book 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!

March 17 – fundinmental – REVIEW
March 17 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT
March 18 – The Book Decoder – REVIEW  
March 18 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT
March 19 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW – unable to post.
March 19 – The Book Diva’s Reads – SPOTLIGHT
March 20 – eBook Addicts – REVIEW
March 20 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW
March 21 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
March 21 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT
March 22 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW
March 22 – This Is My Truth Now – SPOTLIGHT
March 23 – That’s What She’s Reading – REVIEW
March 23 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

Thursday, March 19, 2020

LSBBT PROMO SCRAPBOOK PAGE: Postcards from Lonnie by Lisa Johnson (Biography)

Lisa Johnson

Genre:  Biography / Photo Journal / Poverty
Publisher: Rand-Smith LLC
Date of Publication: January 14, 2020
Number of Pages: 200

Scroll down for the giveaway!

It all started on Christmas Day 1993. Lisa and Lonnie were sitting on their mom's rickety yard swing, when Lisa's curiosity took over. She asked Lonnie questions about his life on the street, about being homeless. To her surprise, he answered honestly, humorously, and thoughtfully.

That conversation continued throughout the next four years as Lisa wrote questions on postcards addressed to herself, then mailed them in packets to Lonnie at the flower shop on his corner. He wrote his answers and mailed them back. Lonnie answered a lot of questions and even asked a few, too. His detailed, matter-of-fact responses gave Lisa an unfettered view of a population living on the fringes of society and the issues they face every day.

Postcards from Lonnie is a dialogue between Lonnie, who speaks through the postcards, and his sister, who not only learns a lot about her brother but also about herself. Intimate and revealing, this is a unique family memoir and a universal story of love, respect, family, and ultimately hope.

 Amazon  ┃  Barnes & Noble  |  Books-A-Million  ┃  Kobo  

1. Boy Scout Lonnie
Lonnie enjoyed scouting and making his dad proud.
2. Lonnie with baby
Lonnie with his baby daughter, Abigail Dawn (“Tookie”)

3. Lonnie and Lisa
Silliness between brother and sister

4. Johnsons on porch steps
Classic family of the 1950s, dressed up in their Sunday best

5. Little Cowboy Lonnie
Lonnie dressed up like his favorite TV cowboy — Hopalong Cassidy
6. Mom with baby Lonnie
Lonnie with Mama, near Grandpa’s farm in Ohio

7. Lonnie’s corner
Lonnie’s corner: Westheimer and Montrose, Houston, Texas

Lisa Johnson was born in Middletown, Ohio, at Middletown Hospital, where her brother, Lonnie, was born almost five years earlier. Two years after Lisa was born, they settled in Houston, Texas. In a couple more years, they moved to Baltimore, Maryland. Before Lisa started elementary school, they moved again, to Atlanta, Georgia. Lonnie was in fifth grade and was starting to misbehave in his classroom, not “applying himself.” A new first-grader, Lisa applied herself big time, and, once she got a taste of the praise and affirmation that came with high grades, she was hooked for life.

By the time Lisa was in junior high, they had moved again, to Topeka, Kansas, and as she started high school, they moved back to Houston.

Lisa went to college, Lonnie got married. Lisa got married, Lonnie’s daughter was born. Lonnie got divorced, Lisa got divorced. Lonnie’s daughter drowned in the bathtub. Lisa graduated from college, went to graduate school (where she got a good taste of misbehavior but lived through it). Lisa moved to Houston to mooch off their parents for a year or so. Lonnie remarried. Lisa moved to New York to teach at Queens College, CUNY, but soon found her dream job as a copywriter in a large New York ad agency.

Lonnie got divorced and disappeared onto the streets of Houston. Lisa moved to Atlanta. Their dad died. One Christmas Day, Lonnie and Lisa dreamed up an idea for a book. She started sending Lonnie questions on postcards, and he answered every one.

Lisa quit the advertising business to go to seminary — loved seminary, hated being a church-based chief executive officer. She returned to Houston, where their mom still lived. Lonnie died. Lisa found a job writing corporate stuff for a large oil-related company. Then Lisa finished the book she and her brother had dreamed up: Postcards from Lonnie: How I Rediscovered My Brother on the Street Corner He Called Home. 

Signed copy of Postcards from Lonnie 
March 19-March 29, 2020

a Rafflecopter giveaway   Best of luck!

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

Notable Quotable
Author Interview
Top Ten

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