‘Now You See Her’ by Lisa Leighton and Laura Stropki Is a YA Thriller

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“Now You See Her” by Lisa Leighton and Laura Stropki is a young adult novel based on an improbable occurrence. Two high school girls, one driving through a rainstorm and the other running into the street to avoid a kidnapper, switch bodies.

Amelia wakes up in a body that is entirely unfamiliar to her. White skin and short, Sophie’s body is not at all like hers. When she goes home with Sophie’s parents, her life there seems unreal. Sophie’s life has appeared to be perfect — her tennis ability, her beautiful home, her expensive car, her perfect wardrobe, her handsome boyfriend. But when Amelia literally steps into Sophie’s shoes, she finds that the perfection is only skin deep in many areas.

Sophie’s parents argue a lot, her handsome popular boyfriend seems to be boyfriend in name only, and Sophie is involved with the school bad boy at night. Amelia is also determined to find out who was trying to kidnap her and why. It’s difficult when Sophie’s father just wants things to be as they were. And he warns Sophie to keep out of Amelia’s business.

But when her sister and mother are in danger, Amelia-in-Sophie’s-body is not going to stop. In the process, she breaks up with Sophie’s boyfriend and falls for Sophie’s neighbor. She finds out that Sophie’s friend is a real friend, and together, the three try to solve the mystery.

The authors do a fabulous job switching voices in the first person narrative from both Sophie and Amelia’s points of view. The mystery of who is trying to kidnap Amelia and her sister and the mystery of what the strange connection is between Amelia and Sophie will keep the reader turning page after page.

Definitely a good choice for mystery and paranormal readers.

Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by Katherine Tegen Books, the publisher, for review purposes.

‘Two Roads’ by Joseph Bruchac Is a Middle Grade Historical Fiction About Identity and Prejudice

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With “Two Roads,” Joseph Bruchac again demonstrates his brilliance with a novel that inspires as much as it teaches readers about a neglected part of US history, the treatment of veterans after the first World War. The compelling story also shares very much more — including ideas about morality among the hoboes of that time, prejudicial treatment of Native Americans and prejudicial treatment by Native Americans, government wrongdoing, and the importance of family and friends.

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‘Santa Bruce’ (and more) by Ryan T. Higgins Is a Picture Book That’s as Much Fun for Adults to Read as for Kids to Listen to

 

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“Santa¬†Claus Bruce” by the talented Ryan T. Higgins is a picture book that is certainly as much fun (or more) for adults to read as it is for the kids listening to the story. Higgins’ wry humor coupled with the extremely expressive illustrations make for a wonderfully satisfying picture book experience.

It’s winter and Bruce wants to stay in bed, but the mice and geese have other ideas. They want holiday spirit, and they want lots of it. They deck the halls, make eggnog, and put up the Christmas tree. Needless to say, Bruce is not in the holiday mood.

While outside, grumpily shoveling snow dressed in long underwear and a warm hat, Bruce suffers from (another) case of mistaken identity. (Higgins’ fans will remember that the first case of mistaken identity was when the goslings mistook Bruce for their mother in the first book in this wonderfully humorous and touching series.) And so Bruce has now become Santa.

The hilarity and confusion continue as Bruce and the others, the geese and mice, have opposing agendas. Longtime readers know which agenda wins, and so Bruce is Santa and — unwillingly — brings a bunch of holiday cheer to all those around him.

Adults will love the double entendres as the erudite mice discuss bears and weather. “Actually, bears don’t hibernate. They spend the winter in a state of lethargy.” Another mouse responds, “I thought we were spending winter in the state of Maine.” There is one illustration of the bunny home with Mama Bunny, Papa Bunny, the baby bunnies, and the “grown-up bunny who still lives with his parents.” Kids won’t get it, but the adults reading it will.

Kids love the grumpy adult-figure and the clever and determined mice and geese and other forest animals. It’s a heartwarming Christmas tale that will be enjoyed all winter long and well into Spring.

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For younger Bruce fans, get “1 Grumpy Bruce: a counting book” by Higgins. In this sturdy board book are all the adorable forest figures (and elephants) from “1 grumpy bear” to “10 woodchucks chucking wood.” And although it’s “just” a counting board book, there is still a clever twist at the end. Trust Higgins to make a counting board book more than just a book of numbers.

Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover books provided by Disney-Hyperion, the publisher, for review purposes.

‘I Don’t Want to Go to Sleep’ by Dev Petty Is a Funny Picture Book That Kids Who Resist Bedtime Will Relate To

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Most children don’t like bedtime. They will miss out on extended evening fun. Imagine how young Frog feels when it’s time to sleep for the WHOLE winter! Author Dev Petty has imagined this, and she shares that in “I Don’t Want to Go to Sleep,” ably illustrated by Mike Boldt. In fact, this is the fourth book in the Frog series, and they are all clever books that may just be destined to be classics.

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‘The Traveling Cat Chronicles’ by Hiro Arikawa Is a Spectacularly Charming Tale Narrated by the Cat and his Rescuer

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“The Traveling Cat Chronicles” by Hiro Arikawa is a story narrated by a cheeky cat whose pert narrative is touching, humorous, and — to those who know cats — pure feline. This is the story of Nana, the supremely wise cat, and Satoru, the supremely wise human who befriends and rescues Nana. Or does Nana rescue Satoru?

Contained in this charming book are stories about Satoru’s life as he travels to visit old friends in search of a new home for Nana. He tells each friend that although he loves Nana dearly, he must find a new home for his beautiful cat. He doesn’t explain why, although readers will begin to suspect the reason by the middle of the book.

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Don’t Miss ‘The Storm Runner’ by J. C. Cervantes; the First Book in a New ‘Rick Riordan Presents’ Series

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J. C. Cervantes is the talented author who has written the first book in a trilogy about Mayan gods and the kid who is the child of one of them. It’s Rick Riordan’s “Lightning Thief” taken south to Mexico (and New Mexico). In “The Storm Runner,” Zane Obispo, who limps because one leg is shorter than the other, discovers that he is godborn, the child of one of the Mayan gods. In fact, that explains his leg because as one character tells him, humans and the gods don’t mix perfectly.

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‘Love Can Be: A Literary Collection About Our Animals’ Is Filled with Beautiful Stories about the Creatures Who Fill our Lives with Beauty

love can be

“Love Can Be” is a touching and creative collection of writing about animals and our connections to them. The contributors include Joyce Carol Oates, Delia Ephron, S. E. Hinton, and Reyna Grande. The stories vary in content from Dean Koontz sharing a story about his much-loved dog Trixie, to Reyna Grande discussing monarch butterflies and comparing their long migration to her life. Both stories share the beauty and mystery of our love for animals.

Each story, those which are not stories about beloved pets and those that are, share a sense of wonder about the world around us and the animals that inhabit them. Those animals whose lives intersect ours enrich us through that interaction from raccoons being saved to frogs and turtles in danger on roadways.

One story, by Wade Rouse, made me cry. He shares the power of dogs to heal us, and his story about rescuing animals and how they repay that good deed many times over is a truth that those who rescue hear over and over. “That dog got me through my cancer treatment” is a statement that I have been told from at least two people who adopted dogs I’d rescued. One was a puppy mill survivor, Irving, and the other a terrier mix whom I found wandering down the sidewalk in Highland Park, unwanted and ungroomed. Rouse’s story is about his father-in-law who had just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, and, ignoring all advice and warnings about getting someone a dog for Christmas, they got him a black Lab mix. It was beautiful, tear-jerkingly beautiful — both the story and the writing. Just like love can be.

Love can be many things, and with animals, all things are possible. One thing that is sure is that “Love Can Be: A Literary Collection About our Animals” would be a perfect gift for any animal lover on your holiday gift list. Truly.

The Kirkpatrick Foundation is donating all net proceeds of this book to animal charities in Oklahoma as well as honoraria donated to the contributor’s selected animal charities. Dean Koontz, for example, is a huge supporter of Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), an organization that supplies service dogs to the handicapped and facility dogs to those who work in hospitals and schools. (I attended training for my facility dog at the Oceanside branch of CCI, to which Koontz has donated generously.) His much loved dogs were CCI dogs who were released for various reasons and adopted.

The Kirkpatrick Foundation’s Safe & Humane initiative is comprised of people who care about the welfare of animals and understand that the wellbeing of animals is a key component of community well-being. They are committed to making Oklahoma the safest and most humane place to be an animal by the year 2032. Learn more about that here.

Please note: This review is based on the advance reader’s copy provided by Wunderkind PR for review purposes.

Andy Carpenter is ‘Rescued’ In this Latest Mystery by David Rosenfelt

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If you’ve never read an “Andy Carpenter Mystery” by David Rosenfelt, “Rescued” is certainly a fine place to start — because this entry, the seventeenth in the series, is just as entertaining, suspenseful, and laugh-out-loud funny as all the earlier sixteen.

Rosenfelt’s dry and self-effacing sense of humor is, as usual, on display on virtually every page of “Rescued.” This time, the wealthy, super-bright, and self-confessed rather lazy lawyer, Andy Carpenter, is persuaded to defend an ex-cop who’s been accused of murder. The ex-cop is also the ex-lover of Andy’s wife Laurie, who is herself an expert investigator.

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