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The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall

shelley pearsall, the senth most important thing, book journey, the seventh throne of heaven

I grabbed this book that had just come from the publisher off the table as I left for the cabin last week.  The title intrigued me and it looked to be a fairly easy middle grade read – just what I needed for this cabin trip.  Turns out… I grabbed the right book at the right time.  ~ Sheila

Thirteen year old Arthur Owens is having a horrible year.  With the sudden accident that killed his father Arthur feels that his family is just going through the motions.  When Arthur comes home one day to find that his mother has cleaned out his fathers things from their home, his mood only darkens.

It was a bitter cold day when Arthur Owens throws the brick at the Junk Man’s head.  Lucky for him, the Junk Man had moved to pick something up and the brick missed his head, instead damaging his arm.  It wasn’t for racist reasons.  It wasn’t for the sad state of dress the Junk Man wore.  Arthur had his reasons for throwing that brick but it would not be reasons that would make his mom or the judge change their mind.

With Arthur on a one way path to juvie, it is the Junk Man himself who comes up with an alternative for the judge.  Arthur will work off his 120 hours of community service working for the Junk Man.  Arthur will be the one who takes the rickety old shopping cart around looking for the seven moth important things:  glass bottles, foil, cardboard, pieces of wood, light bulbs, coffee cans, and mirrors.  Arthur thinks the Junk Man is a few fries short of a happy meal, but has no choice but to do as he is told.

It isn’t long before Arthur understands that there is more to the Junk Man than one first sees.  The “trash’ he is collecting has so much more meaning… a meaning that Arthur soon finds to be filled with lessons he will carry with him for the rest of his life.

I really enjoyed reading The Seventh Most Important Thing.  As each item reveals it’s purpose I found myself not wanting to put the book down, wanting to know what the next item could mean.  The connections Arthur makes throughout the book with class mates, teachers, his probation officer, as well as the community is a bigger vision to this story.  I loved that the book appeared to have a hidden agenda…

and as I ended the read I found out what it was – and I was blown away.

I can not share that part of the story as much as I want to as I feel this is something for each reader to find out for themselves.  However, never one to miss a chance to discuss a book further, I will put the info on a spoiler page for those of us who have read the book and wish to discuss it in more depth.

5

Over all, a Middle Grade read that will leave the reader with a little something more than they thought they were getting, and an excellent discussion book for a parent and child.

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 0760 (What’s this?)
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (September 8, 2015)

 

Summer Secrets by Jane Green

Summer Secrets, Jane Green, Book Journey

 

Cat Coombs always seemed to struggle in finding her place in her world of London.  She did not fit into the popular crowd, but eventually discovered that with a few drinks in her, she could bring on the liquid courage that seemed to make her fit.  In her teen years and into her 20’s it became known that the party had not started until Cat had arrived. Sure, Cat did not always remember events that took place in these crazy drinking binges, and she did not always make it to her job as a journalist on time, but being “absent” from a dad that does not seem to really care and a mom that keeps her distance isn’t so bad.

When Cat meets Jason, a handsome guy who is a recovering alcoholic Cat tries to stop drinking for him (although she is sure she doesn’t have a problem) but a bombshell dropped by her mother sends Cat not only into a shock… but also to the states and Nantucket to stay with family she doesn’t know.  This family is a lot of fun and Cat slips easily into old habits. A serious mistake destroys relationships all around her and sends her back to London planning never to return to Nantucket again and put what happened out of her mind.

But…. things have a way of popping up when not dealt with.

As Cat grows into her 40’s, now a recovering alcoholic who understands the importance of her meetings and never drinking again, she finds herself stuck on the 9th step in her recovery:  Made direct amends to such people, wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

While Cat has completed most of this step, she has not addressed what happened in Nantucket or the people she hurt deeply.  When an opportunity arises for Cat to write a story on Nantucket and she is able to spend two weeks there, she knows it is time to face whatever happens… even if it means risking it all.

 

 

 

I have to admit Summer Secrets surprised me.  I found I liked Cat.  This is the first book I have read that really placed me inside an AA meeting and I found that interesting.  Of course I have heard of the steps, but learning more about the meetings through Cat’s character was interesting and really thinking how hard that 9th step has to be – to face those you have hurt, has to be so hard and yet so lifting as well, no matter what the outcome.  Author Jane Green did an excellent job of covering this topic through Cat’s character without it ever feeling heavy or draining.  Well done.

Summer Secrets has a great mix of people, places, and situations.  This is not your typical “Nantucket read”.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and think that this would make a great book to pick up and enjoy this summer.  If you enjoy summer reading, realistic family dynamics, great friendships, and learning a little something along the way do not miss out on this book.

 

 

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (June 23, 2015)

 

 

Descent by Tim Johnston

Descent, Tim Johnston, Book JOurney

The Courtland family, Grant and Angela and their two teenage children, Sean and Caitlin, travel to Colorado for a family vacation before Caitlin heads off to college.  Caitlin is a runner and has won many awards for her skills and is looking forward to the challenge of the terrain of Colorado.

The first morning they are there, Caitlin and Sean take off to try the trails.  Caitlin on foot and Sean following on his bike.  A short time later Grant receives a call from the police that Sean is in the hospital having been hit by a car and when Grant inquires about Caitlin, the officer is puzzled…. Sean was found alone.  Caitlin was not with him.

This is the start of a family nightmare.  Grant and Angela’s already shaking marriage is put in even more jeopardy when Grant insists that he stay in Colorado to continue the search for Caitlin while Angela and Sean return home to Wisconsin and try to continue on with a semi normal life.  As weeks turn to months, and months to years, the damage to all the Courtlands is evident.

Sean lives with the guilt of knowing more than he is saying, and Caitlin… well, what of Caitlin?  Will she ever be found either dead or alive?

 

 

 

I read this book for our book club and while it was a new title to me I am so glad we read it.  What an excellent read.  I liked how real this book felt, an excellent setting of losing a child in the Colorado mountain area and the only witness was hit by a car and has little recollection, hours lost in the search because the police did not know there was another person with Sean until the call to his parents.  Creepy and brilliant.

There was much to like about this novel that I felt was done very well.  I had only a couple of bumps along the way.  There were several chapters where Sean is referred to as the boy and for some reason I struggled with that… mainly because it was written in a way where for a while I did not know who the book was referring to.. at first I thought it was creating a mysterious narrator but after many chapters of not always knowing who was speaking, it bugged me.  My other bump was in the end a character does something completely out of character which brings things to a close… but did not seem to fit with who this person was for the entire book.

 

Honestly though, compared to the whole book, the bumps were minimal and I found this one hard to put down I wanted so badly to know what had happened to Caitlin and how it would all end.

Deliciously good reading.

 

 

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books; 1 edition (January 6, 2015)

 

 

Little Lies by Heather Gudenkauf

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Social Worker Ellen Moore is awaken from her warm deep sleep to take a call that brought her full attention to the true cold dark world that surrounded her. A woman’s body was found in the park next to the statue of Leto, the Goddess of Motherhood.  More disturbing, the woman’s 4-year-old son was next to his dead mother, cold and alone.  Much like a case that took place thirteen years earlier with another mother, and another child in the same spot.  Ellen leaves the warmth of her husband’s side and quietly walks by each of her three children’s rooms to go to the scene of the crime.

Ellen’s job is to take care of the child, but she can not help but wonder what the connections are to the past.  You never know when you are playing it safe, or when you may find yourself confronted by a killer who knows you are getting a little too close to the truth for comfort.

 

 

I recently read and reviewed Heather Gudenkauf’s book Little Mercies which also is about protagonist Ellen Moore and a case involving child endangerment.  I enjoyed that book very much and was interested in this novella prequel with the main characters that I had enjoyed so much previously.

While I enjoyed the case and the story line, I was reminded once again why I do not usually engage in these prequels.  They place too much in the pages too fast, which I understand is the way it needs to be in a 400 page novella.  I think this would have made a wonderful full size book, there was plenty of good content to make it so.

If you enjoy Heather Gudenkauf’s writing and do not mind the occasional short story with great characters, this would be a book I would recommend.  Powerful storyline, just a little quick on the wrap up for me.

 

 

  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 5/1/2014
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 400

 

LETHAL by Sandra Brown

LETHAL Sandra Brown, Sheila DeChantal, Book JOurney

 

Honor Gillette is a young widower of a Police Officer.  She now lives alone with her 4-year-old daughter trying hard to provide a stable life for them both.  When a man is found laying in their yard apparently harmed Honor goes to help him only to discover that he is the man flashed across the tv screen that the police are looking for the murder of 7 people, Lee Coburn.

Lee takes Honor and her daughter hostage in their own home, promising if they cooperate he will not hurt them.  Honor has no choice but to do as he says. As the days unfold Honor realizes that Coburn is much more than what the media is saying… in fact as Honor is about to learn – nothing is as it seems and who to trust, including those closest to her becomes the burning question.

How do you run away from the very people who days earlier would have been the ones you would run to?

 

 

 

I read this book as part of our June book exchange for book club.  This is the book that I picked out of the pile of wrapped books.  I had attempted Sandra Brown a few years back thinking I would like her writing style but struggled and had not finished the book, or picked her up since.  This was going to be another attempt.

 

LETHAL was an ok read.  From the moment Honor finds Coburn in her yard and takes her hostage I started having a little Labor Day by Joyce Maynard feeling.  Both books had single mom’s and a single child, both books the woman was taken hostage…. While in many ways the books are not alike, there was just enough there to make me feel like I had been here before.

The storyline felt a bit over the top, however I did find the book to be interesting enough to keep me going to find out what was going to happen.  When I shared my thoughts with my book club in July about this book I called it a steamier version of Labor Day.  In the end I preferred Lee Coburn’s character over Henry in Labor Day.  Coburn was someone I could cheer on…. Henry… not so much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Young World by Chris Weitz – AWESOMELY GUSH WORTHY!

The Young World, Chris Weitz, Book Journey, YA, Sheila DeChantal

Expect big things from this amazing book… I don’t think this is the last we will hear from Chris Weitz ~Sheila

 

It has been two very long years since the mysterious virus had wiped out all children and adults leaving only the teens to try to  survive in this new unsteady world.  In New York as the teenagers have battled for food and space it seems as though it has turned into a city of tribes; each protecting their own.

Jefferson and Donna are part of the Washington Square Tribe.  Jefferson the leader by default, and Donna the teenage in-house “doctor”, are finding it harder and harder to come by supplies and food to keep their group going.  It is no secret that a tribe without the proper supplies is a weak tribe, and a weak tribe may as well be a dead tribe.

When a member of the group nicknamed “Brainbox” for his skills at coming up with ideas to create electricity and more believes he may have an idea of what has caused virus and may be able to reverse what has happened to the world if he could just look at a book that is in the library way across town, Jefferson, Donna, and another tribe-mate Peter, all join in the cause.  Something has to be done before they too die…

but what dangers lie out beyond the sanctuary of their area?  And what truths are trying to be protected at any cost?

 

 

Welcome to New York, a city ruled by teens.

After a mysterious Sickness wipes out the rest of the population, the young survivors assemble into tightly run tribes. Jefferson, the reluctant leader of the Washington Square tribe, and Donna, the girl he’s secretly in love with, have carved out a precarious existence among the chaos. But when another tribe member discovers a clue that may hold the cure to the Sickness, five teens set out on a life-altering road trip to save humankind.
The tribe exchanges gunfire with enemy gangs, escapes cults and militias, braves the wilds of the subway and Central Park…and discovers truths they could never have imagined.

– See more at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/chris-weitz/the-young-world/9780316226295/#desc

I first picked up a glimpse of this book at the Book Expo in May.  I seen it in the women’s bathroom.
he Young World, Chris Weitz, Book Journey

Nicely played Little Brown… Nicely played.

This (above) was the advertising in the women’s bathroom at the expo.  I seen it.. and went to the Little Brown booth immediately (I did not pass go, did not collect $200) and requested an advanced copy of it.

I am so glad I did.

This book is not released until July 29th and normally I would not review a book this far ahead of release date…

but…

I want to get you as EXCITED about this one as I am.  I want YOU to be aware of what is coming that is super awesome sauce so you can put it on your radar and know that if you enjoy YA Dystopian fiction with the more than likely potential of being a movie as well, then hang on… you are in for a treat.

I LOVED the layout of The Young World.  Set in New York in the futuristic pit of a world.  The protagonists are diverse and engaging.  I enjoyed the concept of the different tribes made up of teens.  Each had their own skill sets that they embraced – some were for good…. some – not so much.

The Young World is a great ride and do not pass on this first book of The Young World Trilogy (don’t groan – the book is fast paced and engaging and you will not want to wait!)

Fun Fact: 

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Chris Weitz is the director of Twilight: New Moon, About a Boy, The Golden Compass, Antz and American Pie. His most recent film is A Better Life, which was nominated for an Academy Award. THE YOUNG WORLD is his first novel. – See more at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/authors/chris-weitz-teen/#about

Chris Weitz is the director of twilight, New Moon, About A Boy, The Golden Compass, ANTZ, and American Pie.  His most recent film is A Better Life, which has been nominated for an Academy Award.  The Young World is his first novel.

So now that I have GUSHED all over this review… here is a list compliments of Hachette Book Group – as to where you can plan to purchase this book:

Where to buy!

  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Imprint: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Release Date:  July 29, 2014
  •  

    Welcome to New York, a city ruled by teens.

    After a mysterious Sickness wipes out the rest of the population, the young survivors assemble into tightly run tribes. Jefferson, the reluctant leader of the Washington Square tribe, and Donna, the girl he’s secretly in love with, have carved out a precarious existence among the chaos. But when another tribe member discovers a clue that may hold the cure to the Sickness, five teens set out on a life-altering road trip to save humankind.
    The tribe exchanges gunfire with enemy gangs, escapes cults and militias, braves the wilds of the subway and Central Park…and discovers truths they could never have imagined.

    – See more at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/chris-weitz/the-young-world/9780316226295/#desc

    Missing You by Harlan Coben

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    2nd generation Detective Kat Donovan knows what it is like to be on the losing end.  Eighteen years earlier her father was gunned down and his killer now sits at the end of his life sentence.  Shortly after, Kat’s fiance Jeff breaks their engagement with little explanation.  From that point on Kat buried herself in her work leaving little time for anything else.

    When a friend signs Kat up for online dating service, Kat is skeptical, but one night starts looking through the men that the site has lined up for her as possible “connections”.  Kat freezes when she finds herself staring at the man who broke her heart all those years ago; apparently using a false name.  When she tries to message him he replies with a flat response giving no acknowledgement of their past at all… and as Kat digs deeper… what she discovers is enough to bring chills up her spine…

    If Jeff caught up in a scam of luring women and men with money into false hopes of a relationship? 

    With her personal life and her career all colliding at once, Kat starts investigating where it is clear that people on both sides of the law do not want her looking in to deeply.

     

     

    Harlan Coben NEVER disappoints.  Every book that man writes is worth the wait.  I loved this book!  Kat was a great protagonist, she was strong and independent, but had a softer side as well. 

    As you dig into what is really happening in this book it is enough to give you chills as it is such a real feeling scenario you can easily imagine reading about something like this in a newspaper. 

    There is so much awesomeness in this book yet I do not want to give even a sample away as this is a book served better with you diving in and putting your seat belt on – you are in for a thrilling adventure!

    DO not hesitate to pick this book up – I mark my reputation as a book reviewer that this is Harlan at his finest.  Awesome. Awesome. Awesome.

    All You Could Ask For by Mike Greenberg

    1b

    Brooke has the type of marriage that you only see on tv.  Married to her high school sweetheart for 15 years, Brooke and Scott still acted like newly weds, sneaking away for quick moments together whenever they could.

    Newly married Samantha finds a disturbing email on her husband of 48 hours computer.  And she does the only thing she knows … she runs.

    Katherine has not really allowed much more in her life than her career and for the most part that was pretty satisfying, even if she does work for the man who crushed her heart many years ago. After an eye-opening blind date for her 40th birthday, Katherine gets a long overdue wake up call on life.

    On the outside, these three women have nothing in common, yet their worlds are about to collide in a powerful way that is more than they could ask for.

     

     

    So much draws me to this book at first look… the cover is gorgeous and inviting, it is a party I hope I am invited to.  It’s written about three strong women, each very different in how they live their lives…. and probably most intriguing – it is written by a man. 

    I dove into All You Could Ask For with a sense of adventure (remember the party cover?  I knew I was in for some fun)  And I was in for some fun, all three women each had qualities that appealed to me as to how they lived their lives.  Brooke’s marriage sounded amazing and fun, Samantha’s desire to push herself physically through triathlon challenges brought out the sports girl in me, and I was impressed by Katherine’s work ethics – although misplaced, she was in a good spot financially.  Of course, as in all great reads, I had a favorite character… and I am not going to tell but I will say that at the end of the book it was fun to find out that the authors favorite was the same as mine.

    All You Could Ask For is a good read about women who come together under hard circumstances.  I enjoyed the quick flow of the books and the alternating chapters told by each of the main characters from their point of view.  It is not a perfect book.  I have questions. There is a huge relationship gap that bugged me and made the book feel disconnected because of it.  However,  as I processed my thoughts on this book, I think that maybe Mike Greenberg was right to leave the gap… after all real life works that way.  As much as we would love all our situations to end wrapped neatly with a bow, quite often we just run out of tape.

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    This book gives me a point in Connecticut, where all three women once lived.

     

     

    I Am Abraham by Jerome Charyn

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    Abraham Lincoln was not always the President Of The United States.  He was once a young man filled with spirit and dreams.  Before he was the man we have read about and look upon the penny and the five dollar bill, he was just a poor boy from Kentucky.  He was a lawyer.  he was a member of congress.  He was a husband, and a father.This is his story.

     

    Jerome Charyn takes what we know of Lincoln’s life from beginning until the end, and breathes life into the gaps in between using Lincoln’s own voice to tell this first person fictional masterpiece. In fact, I Am Lincoln, begins with the end…. in a theater in Washington DC with only the soft sound of movement and then a sting behind his left ear…

    Wow.  Wow. Wow.

    I have always been fascinated with Lincoln’s life and death.  He has always been my favorite of the presidents even though clearly we have never met nor even lived in the same century.  102 years after his death, I would be born.

    Lincoln was the man who led us through the civil war, who pushed back against slavery, and did so with integrity.  When this book was offered up for review, I did not hesitate on saying yes.

    Jerome Charyn writes I Am Lincoln from an amazing perspective; Lincoln’s.  For this I give him credit as those are big shoes to fill. Jerome Charyn not only lets us see history unfold, but through Lincoln’s own eyes and words is something pretty close to brilliant. 

    I adored this book and lapped up each page seeing Lincoln’s life as I never had before.  Being able to write this review on Lincoln’s birthday is a great honor to me to be able to speak so enthusiastically about this book. 

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    Thank you to Tribute books for allowing me a chance to bask in this incredible read on Lincoln’s life.

     

    That Part Was True by Deborah McKinlay

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    I found McKinlay’s writing so delicious I had to say some of the lines out loud just to savor them on my tongue ~ Sheila

    Eve Petworth finds her 40’s to be a bit of a rocky road.  Living in London on her own after a divorce, and struggling as her own adult daughter is about to be married and leaning a little too hard on Eve, Eve takes solace in books written by a popular American Novelist, Jackson Cooper.  When Eve writes to Cooper informing him of her appreciation of his books and comparing one of his lines about a watery summer day to ripe fruit, Cooper to her surprise, writes back.

    Jackson Cooper has his own tales of love and loss.  Now in his 50’s and divorced twice, he really does not know what he wants.  Women fall all over him, and if that is what he wanted he would be set, but really he just wants to write that next book that seems stuck in his head without all the – well lets call it what it is:  Drama.  Writing to Eve in London is like writing to an old friend.  They share recipes, they talk about books and the weather…

    and both wonder in the middle of this messed up life… if their might be something more…

     

     

    I am not even sure if I can tell you how impressed I am with That Part Was True by Deborah McKinlay.  Even now weeks after I have read the book, I glance over at it as I type with a little smile on my face.

    This book reminds me a little of the flow of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, but with a gentler flow to it.  This one grabbed me as I enjoyed Eve and her struggles with her every day life as well as Jackson’s struggles as he continuously (sometimes hilariously) messed everything up. 

    This is the book I recommended for February in the Blogger Recommended publication.  I hope you too will take a closer look at this book and give it a read.  I seriously enjoyed it.