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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Mists of the Serengeti by Leylah Attar

Setting: Africa
Genre: Women's Fiction
Publisher: Pitch73 Publishing
Release Date: January 29, 2017

Wow.  I wish I could give it more stars.  6 STARS!  I'm not the only one who thinks this should be made into a movie.  I can totally see it already and what a movie it would be!  Two broken people, bound by a tragic event, come together to help save a group of albino Tanzanian children and in the process save each other.

Jack and Rodel are two characters you won't soon forget.  Set in the Tanzanian countryside, you can see Mount Kilimanjaro in the background, feel the hot air on your face and feel the African wind in your hair.  Jack has lost his precious daughter in a bomb blast in town.  Helpless to save her, he has retreated to his coffee farm where he exists only to visit her grave in the midst of storms.  Rodel has lost her sister in the same blast, but she never got to say goodbye, only hearing her sister's desperate last voicemail to tell her it would be alright somehow.  Rodel travels to Tanzania to take care of her sister's things, and there she discovers what her sister was doing.  She was helping to get albino children to a safe house, and there were three left on the list.  So, Rodel takes on the list for her sister.  The only person that can help her is Jack Warden.  Yet, not only Jack is unwilling to help, he is bitter and full of anger.  It will take everything they have to get through the hurt and heartbreak to save these children. 

Oh, and there is romance, too.  But while it simmers at the beginning, their attraction is consuming and becomes a bright flame that surpasses the void in their lives.  It transforms them, illuminates them and leads them into the future.  Rodel has a life back in England, and she plans on returning there as soon as this mission is complete.  They must say goodbye at the end of this journey.  This isn't your average everyday romance.  No, it's a love story.  And by love story, I don't mean just Jack and Rodel, I mean love between a father and daughter, a mother and son, between sisters, and love that happens when you let go and just let your heart lead the way.   

*Big Sigh*  This story will stay with you long after you read the last page.  You can visualize it in your head, it's that powerful.  The story is based on true events of albino children being abducted for their body parts and being sold to witchdoctors.  It's a real thing.  So if that is something that bothers you, be warned.  I actually felt all sorts of emotions reading this book, and that in itself is something extraordinary.  But it's oh, so so so good!  It's the best book I have read in a long while! 

Rating: 5 Stars
Jennifer Jones

Thursday, March 16, 2017

A River by Marc Martin

Genre: Children's Picture Book
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Release Date: March 7, 2017

Join a young child on a very imaginative journey down the river that passes by the family home. In the imaginary silver boat, the child travels past busy cities, factories, jungles, and ends up in the ocean before returning to the very place that matters the most.

The illustrations in A River are created in shades of blues and greens that captures the outdoorsy feel you'd expect to find while journeying along the river. Splashes of orange, white, yellow, and red draw the eye to certain aspects, but you quickly find yourself mesmerized by both pages of illustrations. It's the art that really made this book special.

The story isn't hard to read, so beginning readers will have few problems with the sentence length or vocabulary used. Each page only has a few words, which I feel really makes it a great book for younger readers.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Balderdash! by Michelle Markel and Nancy Carpenter

Genre: Children's Picture Book
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Release Date: April 4, 2017

Balderdash shares the story of young John Newbery, man for whom the Newbery Medal pays tribute. Newbery grew up in a world where children's books were frowned upon unless they taught a some form of educational lesson. His passion for storytelling and the world around him led to children's books as we know them today.

I quickly became fascinated by a story I didn't know. My daughter, a graphic design student, found the book appealing because of its varied uses of fonts, sizing, and other design aspects. Both of us quickly said the book was a keeper.

Keeping that in mind, I did question how a younger child would feel. The illustrations are impressive, the sentence structure and vocabulary are excellent for and advancing reader, but the subject matter (a biography and history of children's books) may not be as appealing. It's a book where I feel parents will be mesmerized, but children may not share the same enthusiasm.