Blog Tour: Finding Esme

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

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After her grandfather died from a heart attack while driving his tractor on Solace Hill, twelve-year-old 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

Rating :★★★★★

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from Lone Star Literary Life partner in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copies used in this review are finalized copies sent to me in exchange for my honest review.  #partner #LSBBT

Have you ever experienced a loss? Have you ever felt the need to reconnect with someone you have lost? Finding Esme takes the reader on the journey through the mind of a young child and her family as they continue to deal with the aftermath of the loss of her grandfather. As the story continues to unfold the author allows the reader to gain a better understanding of Esme’s relationship with her grandfather. We are then able to dive into why she is struggling so hard with his loss. Esme wants so desperately to be a contributing member of her family, but she’s only twelve. There aren’t many things a twelve-year-old can do to make money. As she struggles to come to terms with how desperate family is to save their farm and her inability to help, she discovers something far more amazing. Her connection with her late grandfather runs deeper than she could have ever imagined. Esme and her grandfather share a similar gift. Some might call the gift magic!

This book is filled with numerous components that make it hard to focus on just one. There is a sense of adventure, self discovery, family, friendships, loss, mystery, and acceptance. The author does a phenomenal job of telling this story in a way that provides the reader with a chance to understanding the emotions of each character. This story transports you into the life and home of Eme and her family. Esme is far more mature for her age than other twelve-year-olds. I adore the uniqueness associated with each character and the detail provided. The development of the main and supporting characters allowed for a better baseline of the story and enhanced the plot. The realism and emotional influence in the authors writing style had me in tears as I got to know Esme, her best friend, and her mother. Esme’s life is far from perfect. She struggles with coming to terms with the loss of her grandfather, supporting her grandmother, and being there for her younger brother. However, we watch as Esme learns acceptance and embraces her gift that will lead to happiness and connection.

This coming of age story transports you into the life of Esme. A young girl whose knack for discovery leads her to the greatest treasure of all that could potentially save her family’s farm. This book is filled with grief, love, friendships, and childlike discovery. The ending of this book will have you shedding tears of joy as we watch the main character is able to use her “gift” in a unique way. This book reminded me a lot of my life growing up. I had an absent father, a mother who was gone, and I was raised by my grandmother. I remember as a young child having the similar thoughts as Esme and thanking God the same way she does in the novel.

If you are interested in a well written, relatable, thought provoking, explorative, coming of age elementary/middle-grade novel, then this book is for you! I recommend this book to all young readers looking to engage in a story that will encourage their sense of discovery and adventure. Special thanks to the author for providing me with a copy of this remarkable tale.

Click the link above to purchase this item or scroll towards the bottom of this review try your luck at the giveaway. Either way, get your hands on a copy of this book!

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.
 

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February 11-21, 2020

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Blog Tour: Ain’t Nobody

AIN’T NOBODY
NOBODY
by
HEATHER HARPER ELLETT
Genre: Murder Mystery / Southern Noir / Dark Humor
Publisher: Polis Books
Date of Publication: September 24, 2019
Number of Pages: 336
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Named a Best Debut of Fall/Winter 2019 by Library Journal, Ain’t Nobody Nobody is the story of a disgraced East Texas sheriff, his dead best friend’s surly teenage daughter, and a naive ranch hand who find unlikely redemption in a murdered hog hunter on a fence. 
 
Part Breaking Bad and part Faulkner, this tragi-comic mystery is perfect for readers who enjoy dark humor (think Fargo) and like their crime fiction with a literary flare. 
A Best Mystery of 2019 by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Rating :★★★★★

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from Lone Star Literary Life partner in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copies used in those are finalized copies sent to me in exchange for my honest review.  #partner #LSBBT

This book is a debut novel for Heather Ellett. It dives into a murder mystery that takes place in the backwoods of an East Texas town. A town where everybody knows everybody and everything that happens. Randy Mayhill carries grief, shame, and regret everywhere he goes. He spends time trying to redeem the mistakes of his past and his involvement in his friend’s death. All Randy Mayhill ever wanted to do was become a sheriff but now even after his friend’s death and the loss of his job, he’s still carrying the guilt and shame. In an effort to relieve some of the guilt, he makes it his mission to do whatever he can to be available to Birdie and Onie, the daughter and mother of his late friend. But in a town overcome by feral hogs where the only murders that take place are the hogs when a dead body shows up on the fence of his late friend’s family house Randy steps into action. Birdies isn’t saying anything, Onie isn’t talking, and Bradley the helper looks frightened and isn’t saying a word. However, when Randy goes to dispose of the body, it’s gone. Randy must come out of his seclusion to solve a murder mystery and keep another scandal away from Van’s household as he continues to seek redemption for his friend’s death. Only one problem, Randy isn’t the Sherrif in town anymore and no one is giving him answers. The story continues to unfold with twists and turns and an ending that will leave you shocked, proud, and in tears. Who is the mystery man on the fence? What is Birdie’s involvement in his death? Where is Bradley? This story will take you on a wild East Texas backroad ride that will involve deception, redemption, grief, loss, and revenge. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the way it is written. I have not encountered a book quite like it recently. It is known from the first page that the author spent time working to develop each character and the storyline. It is a challenge to write a story in a way that allows the reader to build an emotional connection with the characters but this author did just that. You feel the grief, guilt, loss, regret, pain, emanating from each page. Each main character and supporting character’s story intertwines in such an effortless way that every character feels just as vital as the next. For example, we get a hint of Bradley’s backstory in parts of this novel but it just enough to understand his connection to the plot. Also, I was completely shocked at the ending and was not expecting it. The author does a superb job closing out this story in such a way that it still leaves you wanting more. I laughed at the end because I could not have seen this story ending in any other way. 

The author does a phenomenal job telling this story in a way that is both humorous in some areas and tragic in others. The author uses a unique approach to telling the story where the narrator is both involved in the telling of the story but also a commentator, providing insights in every chapter. This allows the story to feel more realistic and engages the reader in the development of each character. She uses descriptive text to express the character’s emotions in a realistic manner that allows the story to feel real when reading. This book will have you laughing, crying, gasping, and shocked all in one sitting. If you’re looking for a unique Texas read that will have you enveloped from the beginning try to solve a small-town mystery, then this is your book. It will capture your attention from start to finish. I highly recommend this Texas-based murder mystery for any interested in a tragically humorous adult mystery that will have you captured from the beginning. Click the link below to purchase this item or try your luck at the giveaway. Either way, get your hands on this book!

 


 


 

Born and raised in East Texas, Heather Harper Ellett is a graduate of SMU and a therapist in private practice. She lives in Dallas with her husband and son.

 
 

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Blog Tour: Journey of the Pale Bear

JOURNEY OF
THE PALE BEAR
by
SUSAN FLETCHER
Middle Grade / Medieval Historical Fiction
(grades 3-7)
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Date of Publication: October 2, 2018
Paperback: October 1, 2019

Number of Pages: 302

Scroll down for the giveaway!


A runaway boy befriends a polar bear that’s being transported from Norway to London in this lyrical and timeless adventure story about freedom, captivity, and finding a family.
 

 

The polar bear is a royal bear, a gift from the King of Norway to the King of England. The first time Arthur encounters the bear, he is shoved in her cage as payback for stealing food. Restless and deadly, the bear terrifies him. Yet, strangely, she doesn’t harm him—though she has attacked anyone else who comes near. That makes Arthur valuable to the doctor in charge of getting the bear safely to London. So Arthur, who has run away from home, finds himself taking care of a polar bear on a ship to England.
 
Tasked with feeding and cleaning up after the bear, Arthur’s fears slowly lessen as he begins to feel a connection to this bear, who like him, has been cut off from her family. But the journey holds many dangers, and Arthur knows his own freedom—perhaps even his life—depends on keeping the bear from harm. When pirates attack and the ship founders, Arthur must make a choice—does he do everything he can to save himself, or does he help the bear to find freedom?
 
Based on the real story of a polar bear that lived in the Tower of London, this timeless adventure story is also a touching account of the bond between a boy and a bear.

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Rating :★★★★★

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from Lone Star Literary Life partner in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copies used in those are finalized copies sent to me in exchange for my honest review.  #partner #LSBBT

This is an engaging novel that involves family, friendships, and heroics. This book will grab your attention from the moment you read the first page and hold your attention until the end.

This book follows the life of Arthur, a young boy trying to survive in medieval times. It starts off strong with Arthur involved in a chase that leads him in a confined situation. He must use his wits to get out of his current predicament and to get to a place he so desperately desires to visit. Before he can start his journey, he must first serve as a handler for a bear on a ship headed to London. During his time with the bear, he will develop an unlikely bond with this animal. The bear and Arthur have so much in common, they merely want to be free. Arthur faces pirates, bears, and royalty on his journey. He must learn to continue to fight to survive. Will Arthur and the bear finally get the freedom they so desperately desire?

Throughout this novel, I realized that Arthur just wanted to find a place where he felt he belong. He just wanted to be around people that wanted him. The author does an amazing job with the descriptive terms in this novel. So much so, that I felt the emotions of the main character as he described his family dynamics. The supporting characters are developed nicely and the action scenes are engaging. I was a bit skeptical at first about reading this mostly in part due to the setting and time period. In the end, this was one of my favorite novels I have read this year. I thoroughly enjoyed the character development, action scenes, plot, and ending. The author writes this novel in a way that allows the reader to feel a connection with the main character and the support characters. She does this by providing small backstories for the supporting characters that connect with the main character.

If you’re in the mood for a medieval historical fiction middle grade novel based in Europe, then you’re in luck. This book fits soo many key character development points and has such an elaborate storyline that it would be a great read for upper elementary and middle grades. I highly recommend this book for all! You won’t want to put this one down until you finish it completely!

CLICK TO PURCHASE
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*ACCOLADES AND PRAISE FOR*

JOURNEY OF THE PALE BEAR:
Honor Book, Golden Kite Awards, 2019

Vermont’s 2019-2020 Dorothy Canfield Fisher list
2020 Oklahoma Sequoyah Book Award Children’s Masterlist
School Library Connection highly recommended book
Junior Library Guild Selection
50 Must-Read Historical Fiction Books for Kids, bookriot.com


“…a stupendous coming-of-age-tale stuffed with adventure and laced with deeper questions… A richly satisfying story saturated with color, adventure, and heart.” –Kirkus, starred review

“I simply adore this novel. It has it all: gorgeous prose, fascinating history, riveting adventure. But it’s the unlikely tender friendship between a lonely boy and a polar bear that makes this a story to cherish. A lovely little miracle of a book.”

–Katherine Applegate, Newbery Medal-winning author of The One and Only Ivan

“I loved every single thing about this large-hearted and riveting medieval adventure.” —William Alexander, National Book Award-winning author of Goblin Secrets


 

Although Susan loves to write about long-ago and faraway places, she can’t bring those worlds to life without grounding them in the details of this one. To that end, she has explored lava tubes and sea caves; spent the night in a lighthouse; traveled along the Silk Road in Iran; ridden in a glider, on a camel, and on a donkey; and cut up (already dead!) baby chicks and mice for a gyrfalcon’s dinner. To research Journey of the Pale Bear, she explored the grounds of the Tower of London and went backstage at the Oregon Zoo, where, standing breathtakingly near, she watched polar bears Tasul and Conrad lip grapes from their keepers’ open palms.Journey of the Pale Bear is Susan’s 12th book, including the Dragon Chronicles series, Shadow Spinner, and Alphabet of Dreams. Collectively, her books have been translated into nine languages; accolades include a Golden Kite Honor Book, the American Library Association’s Notable Books and Best Books for Young Adults, BCCB Blue Ribbon Books, and School Library Journal’s Best Books.

Susan has an M.A. in English from the University of Michigan and taught for many years in the M.F.A. in Writing for Children and Young Adults program at Vermont College. She lives in Bryan, Texas with her husband, historian R.J.Q. Adams, and their dog, Neville.

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