Genre: Middle Grade / Contemporary Fiction
Date of Publication: June 12, 2016
# of pages: 70
It's the beginning of summer and Uncle Mike and Aunt Melanie invite Mackenzie for an extended summer vacation in their hometown of Houston, Texas. On the first day, Mackenzie finds her cousins, Cristen and Chloe, helping their parents prepare a special meal. Come and learn about the holiday and celebration of Juneteenth with this first book in The Adventures of Mackenzie and Cristen, a cultural journey of joy, family, and fun!
Summer Vacation is the first installment in The Adventures of Mackenzie and Cristen, a five part journey of family love and fun. Each adventure finds the cousins learning history, exploring cultural themes and traditions, and discovering the joy in the world around them.
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The following is a brief list of characters I made as I was going through the book with little notes on each. Feel free to comment if you want to expand any of the characters explanations and I will add your input to my list. Book club members brought up that this story had a steampunk, Victorian age feel and held deeper metaphors pertaining to the world. Some suggested comparisons to governments being Alexander and Hector the two men who forced two opponents to fight as if they were the armies fighting a battle they had no choice but to fight.
Also before you get lost in characters, the August book of the month is A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron and I will be posting the review on August 24th with the notes from the group discussion on the 25th.
Celia Bowen – illusionist, mother committed suicide at 5 leaving her as an orphan with her father Hector “Prospero the Enchanter”, specialty tangible manipulation
Marco – adopted by “grey suit”, intangible manipulation, became Chandresh accounting/assistant to keep close to the circus
Isobel – scout for Marco to report back with everything Celia is doing, tarot card reader, in love with Marco
Grey Suit = Alexander – no shadow, adopted and trained Marco to compete with Celia trained by Prosporo the Enchanter
Chandresh Christophe Lefèvre – night circus manager, helps with blueprints and ideas for new tents and enchantments for both Marco and Celia, Marco puts spell on to forget things
Mme. Tante Padva – “Aunt” helps interview and select Celia as the circus illusionist
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices plastered on lampposts and billboards. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.
Within these nocturnal black-and-white striped tents awaits an utterly unique, a feast for the senses, where one can get lost in a maze of clouds, meander through a lush garden made of ice, stare in wonderment as the tattooed contortionist folds herself into a small glass box, and become deliciously tipsy from the scents of caramel and cinnamon that waft through the air.
Welcome to Le Cirque des Rêves.
Beyond the smoke and mirrors, however, a fierce competition is under way--a contest between two young illusionists, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood to compete in a "game" to which they have been irrevocably bound by their mercurial masters. Unbeknownst to the players, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will.
As the circus travels around the world, the feats of magic gain fantastical new heights with every stop. The game is well under way and the lives of all those involved--the eccentric circus owner, the elusive contortionist, the mystical fortune-teller, and a pair of red-headed twins born backstage among them--are swept up in a wake of spells and charms.
But when Celia discovers that Marco is her adversary, they begin to think of the game not as a competition but as a wonderful collaboration. With no knowledge of how the game must end, they innocently tumble headfirst into love. A deep, passionate, and magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.
Their masters still pull the strings, however, and this unforeseen occurrence forces them to intervene with dangerous consequences, leaving the lives of everyone from the performers to the patrons hanging in the balance.
Both playful and seductive, The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern's spell-casting debut, is a mesmerizing love story for the ages.
Hardcover, First Edition, 387 pages
Published September 13th 2011 by Doubleday
Current GoodReads Rating: 4.02 Stars
Genre: Political Suspense
Publisher: Dead Tree
Date of Publication: June 30, 2016
Number of Pages: 266
“Doing the right thing means you don’t eat”
So begins the sweltering narrative of District Manager, Mason Dixon, a haunted man serving Texas House District 100. After a constituent reaches out to his office with disturbing information about twisted activities going on in district, Mason finds himself drawn into a game of cat and mouse with a malevolent entity.
While these events unfold, Mason begins dating a county judge’s assistant. Brenna is a single mother who is ready to start the next chapter of her life. Can she and the stoical Mason connect? Or will she become collateral damage to his unorthodox, occupational hazards?
Mason soon finds that the danger has reached the highest ranks of the district, and that the century-old structure where he offices is not haunted, but instead possessed by an all too real menace.
Can a man who is profoundly broken restore order when the very core of order itself has been corrupted?
“Matt Minor knows Texas politics from the inside, and he weaves a devious tale of deceit and death and even a little romance. Buckle your seat belt and hang on for the ride.” — Bill Crider
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Genre: Memoir / Education
Publisher: Texas Tech University Press
TTU Press: on Facebook on Twitter
Date of Publication: June 30, 2016
# of pages: 352
On September 20, 1988, the United States Senate unanimously confirmed Lauro F. Cavazos as the fourth Secretary of Education in President Ronald Reagan’s administration. A sixth-generation Texan and Kineño—a descendant of Mexican citizens who accepted work on Texas’s King Ranch in the 19th century—Cavazos was the first Hispanic appointed to a position in an American Presidential Cabinet.
The story of Cavazos’s journey leading up to his cabinet appointment is a portrait of a life devoted to the principles of education. In 1954, Cavazos married Peggy Ann Murdock; the couple had ten children, all of whom were educated in public schools. To enhance their children’s education, the Cavazoses traveled extensively, living out the principle that a holistic education includes exposure to others’ worldviews. During his service as Secretary of Education, Cavazos insisted that all children in America be educated to their fullest potential. A key tenet of Cavazos’s service was an emphasis on educating minority students—a passion Cavazos formed early on in his career, first as a faculty member at the Medical College of Virginia, then as a professor and Dean at the Tufts University School of Medicine, and later as President of Texas Tech University.
From the book:
My father told me when I was a young boy that he had three expectations of me. Dad said that I was expected to educate myself, serve my country, and never disgrace the Cavazos name. These three simple admonitions formed the bedrock of my future life, the foundation upon which my father told me to stand firm.
PURCHASE FROM TEXAS TECH PRESS:
Gene B. Preuss is an associate professor of history and Special Assistant to the President at the University of Houston-Downtown. He is the author of To Get a Better School System: One Hundred Years of School Reform in Texas.
Former Secretary of Education Lauro F. Cavazos was born on the vast King Ranch in South Texas, where his father was the foreman. He received an M.A. in zoology from Texas Tech University and holds a doctoral degree in physiology from Iowa State University. He taught at the Medical College of Virginia and at the Tufts University School of Medicine, where he was Dean for five years. Cavazos returned to Texas Tech University in 1980 to become its tenth president—the first Hispanic and first graduate of the university to hold that office. He is a professor of public health and community medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine. He and his wife divide their time between Concord, Massachusetts and Port Aransas, Texas.
Check out the other great blogs on the tour!
7/15 Country Girl Bookaholic – Review
7/16 Blogging for the Love of Authors and Their Books
7/17 The Page Unbound
7/18 Missus Gonzo – Review
7/19 Texas Book Lover
7/20 My Book Fix Blog
7/21 Forgotten Winds – Review
7/22 It's a Jenn World
7/23 Hall Ways Blog – Review
7/24 StoreyBook Reviews
Genre: Contemporary Inspirational Romance / Christian
Date of Publication: July 5, 2016
Number of Pages: 320
Love and Politics Collide in This Emotion-Packed Fourth Texas Gold Novel
Kellie Coates Gilbert strikes gold once again in the latest book in the Texas Gold Collection. Readers will be drawn into the story through Gilbert’s deeply emotional writing that highlights the complexities of human relationships.
Out of her desire to care for her mother who is suffering from dementia, Leta Breckenridge drops out of college. Her next step means leaving her comfort zone. After learning that a delinquent account may force her mother into a less desirable facility, Leta takes a leap and lands a high-paying job at an Austin public relations firm. But her dream job soon turns into a nightmare when she learns that the firm she is working for is a front for a political opposition organization—and that the research she has been collecting will be used against Nathan Emerson, the handsome senator she’s swiftly falling in love with.
Nathan is a rising political star being pressured to run a bid to unseat the current governor of Texas. He’s already in a relationship with a woman much better suited to be a politician’s wife, but he’s never met anyone like Leta. Could this feisty woman hold the key to his heart—and his future?
AMAZON CHRISTIANBOOK.COM BARNES & NOBLE BAKER RETAIL
For sixteen-year-old Charlotte Reynolds, aka Charlie, being raised by a single dad and three older brothers has its perks. She can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows—including her longtime neighbor and honorary fourth brother, Braden. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn't know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world of makeup, lacy skirts, and BeDazzlers. Even stranger, she's spending time with a boy who has never seen her tear it up in a pickup game.
To cope with the stress of faking her way through this new reality, Charlie seeks late-night refuge in her backyard, talking out her problems with Braden by the fence that separates them. But their Fence Chats can't solve Charlie's biggest problem: she's falling for Braden. Hard. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.
Paperback, 296 pages
Published July 1st 2014 by HarperTeen
Current Goodreads Rating: 4.04 Stars
A light-hearted love story. It is not bogged down with sexual tension and steamy innuendos, but is full of sweet innocent flirting and rough housing. It’s about a tomboy who thinks she needs to become more feminine to get a boy, who realizes she was perfect the way she was. I love her brothers interactions in this story either ganging up to throw her in a lake or approaching her new preppy boyfriend looking as she says “constipated” trying to intimidate him then laughing at themselves at just how badly they tried to pull off looking mean.
The story sets up a fun atmosphere as she not only realizes she doesn’t need to change in order to find love, but also that she can be honest with friends as well and they will love her just the same. This title is brilliant. You might have been able to guess from the beginning who the special boy might be; for me based on her complimenting his deodorant within the first chapter (who does that); but the author still keeps it interesting.
She added the backstory containing the mystery of the mother intermingling into different aspect throughout and ending up being a major factor as the story wrapped up. The little cute details made this such a fun read like figuring out who the heck this Carol lady is who keeps giving her single dad advice on how to raise his only daughter. My favorite part by far though was those dang brothers of hers giving the love of her life that final stare down just to fight over who knew first as soon as he walked out the door. I gave this story five out of five stars and would recommend this to all young adult and romance readers. It incorporates sports and more of a tomboy vibe throughout so it would be a good starter romance for those who are afraid to dive into this genre.
Also I found a fun quiz to take after you read this book to see how well you were paying attention, so take it and let me know how many you got right! I thought I missed the last one, but got 100%!
New York Times bestselling authors Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher are back with the much-anticipated final installment in the Never Never novella series.
Together, Silas Nash and Charlize Wynwood must look deeper into the past to find out who they were and who they want to be. With time ticking down, the couple are in a race to find the answers they need before they lose everything.
Can they regain what they once had? And will it restore who they once were?
Kindle Edition, 92 pages
Published January 19th 2016
Current GoodReads Rating: 3.48 Stars
The big finale didn’t disappoint. It was more lighthearted than the others in the trilogy because it revolved around two desperate lovers trying to reconnect rather than the angst and mystery surrounding their amnesia. It still contained a bag full of tricks and turns as they collected the final pieces of the puzzle.
I love how Charlie got to step back and see her life through fresh eyes as she began to realize why she became so bitter. She got to get to know the members of her family again without the weight of guilt and history steering her opinions. She appreciated and understood her mom’s predicament more, realized her dad might really be a butt, and that her sister needs her love and support. I loved that the authors didn’t leave one stone unturned. They further explained as if to answer the readers’ questions to each background detail from the ghostly girl at their school to their father’s rift stringing it all together harmoniously.
I love these two authors and they delivered one epic story. Thank you for the journey you took me on and the escape while I was reading. The ending took me a second to get because it was the farthest thing from what I was expecting, but I laughed once it clicked. It contained an epic full circle and hilarious little twist that held the authors personalities perfectly. I rated Never Never: Part Three five out of five stars. Let me know which of the trilogy was your favorite, what you thought about the series, and what your favorite part was!
Genre: Historical Romantic Fiction
Publisher: Lake Union Press
Date of Publication: May 31, 2016
Number of Pages: 400
Publisher: Texas Tech University Press
Date of Publication: June 30, 2016
Number of Pages: 288
LaVern Roach, a skinny kid from the small town of Plainview, Texas, rose from obscurity to become one of boxing’s most popular figures during the 1940s. Roach’s rise to prominence occurred during an era when boxing shared the spotlight with baseball as the nation’s top two professional sports. As a result of Roach’s death—which marked the first nationally televised fight during which a boxer died from injuries received in the ring—the sport of boxing came under closer scrutiny by the general public than ever before.
West Texas Middleweight is the story of Roach’s all too brief journey from a West Texas amateur, to enlistment in the US Marines, where he captained the nation’s most successful military boxing team, to becoming a Madison Square Garden main eventer. He received the distinction of being named The Ring Magazine’s “Rookie of the Year” for 1947 and was considered a top ten contender for the middleweight championship of the world. This book chronicles Roach’s road to his final fight—and it explains why, as noted by legendary boxing trainer Angelo Dundee, “boxing changed because of LaVern Roach.”
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How has being a Texan influenced your writing?
Since my subject is a Texan, it has allowed me to relate to him since we both come from similar backgrounds and heritage.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?
It was a godsend.
Where did your love of bookish things come from?
My 9th grade English teacher, Mrs. Williams, gave me a love for literature. I won an essay writing contest that year and got to fly for the first time the 45 miles between Plainview and Lubbock, go see the movie Dial M for Murder, and picnic at McKenzie Park. What a thrill for a 14-year-old boy.
How long have you been writing?
This is my first, but hopefully not my last book.
I started a blog so I can look back and see my life through the eyes of the books I read. A book a day keeps reality away!