Sunday, January 1, 2023

The Famously Funny Parrott


Cast of  Characters
Freddie Parrott III: Parrott extraordinaire
Peccary: Loyal butler to Freddie (and fixer of sticky situations)
Local Constabulary: Frequent visitors at Freddie's 

Freddie Parrott is a very amusing parrot that manages to get into various scrapes which thankfully his trusty butler Peccary gets him out of with wit and whimsy. This book features four {mis}adventures of Freddie and his sidekick. In the first story, Freddie is plagued by a door that knocks on its own. Two other tales involve waffles, and the final story involves the perils of a windy day when tooling around town with your car's top down. Freddie frequently finds himself in hot water but Peccary is always at the ready to calm ruffled feathers and put the world to rights.

Children will love the silly tales and side-splitting antics of Freddie and his proper butler. Delightful illustrations are sprinkled throughout and will bring a smile to young readers faces. I highly recommend this be read aloud so the whole family can enjoy the madcap fun! 

Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of The Famously Funny Parrott from NetGalley for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.

Monday, December 26, 2022

Heaven and Nature Sing by Hannah Anderson

Heaven and Nature sing offers a fresh perspective on the season of advent. Each selection is an essay that offers parallels between observations from nature and life with heavenly truths.  I love the connections the author makes between the natural world and the spiritual one--it offers a really unique way of appreciating Biblical truth. Each essay takes the reader a step closer to the events of Christmas. 

Just as Jesus, in His majesty broke into the everyday world of earth, Anderson, helps the readers see the majesty and meaning in everyday things: dealing with stubborn taproots, life with pets, diminishing habitats, the reality of pathogens, or the mysteries of procreation. As readers get a glimpse into these everyday things, Anderson skillfully draws conclusions that illuminate the significance of various aspects of the Christmas story. Deeply moving and thought-provoking, this is a book that can be enjoyed at any time in the year to help preserve the wonder and beauty of a Savior coming to earth.

I recommend buying even now that the gifts have been opened, and you may begin to dismantle the decorations. Perhaps after all the holiday bustle and chaos is the perfect time to revisit Christ's anticipated birth as we anticipate his second coming. This may be the perfect book to help counteract the post-holiday letdown. So grab a copy and let heaven and nature sing in your heart today and throughout the year ahead!

Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of Heaven and Nature Sing from NetGalley for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.


Saturday, December 10, 2022

The Christmas Hummingbird by Davis Bunn


Cast of Characters
Ryan: single mother and policewoman
Liam: Ryan's son
Ethan: Survivor of housefire
Trevor: rescued hummingbird

With coastal wildfires demanding long hours at work, Ryan is feeling the strain. One of the people she helped evacuate was Ethan who has been well acquainted with starting over. Ethan in turn rescues a hummingbird displaced by the wildfires. As Ethan slowly helps the bird recover and includes Liam in that process, Ethan builds a special connection with the boy and recognizes the special gifts within Liam. Can these three lonely people build a lifelong connection?

The Christmas Hummingbird is part mystery and part romance. Readers learn some interesting things about wildfires and animal rescue in the process. And in the background is a fun thread of a project that Ethan is working on. A project that Liam becomes instrumental in helping with. A fun holiday read--especially if you can curl up by the fire with a hot beverage! Or bring the audiobook along on your winter travels for a sweet holiday treat.

Disclaimer: I received a digital audiobook of The Christmas Hummingbird from NetGalley for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Emmanual: An Invitation to Prepare Him Room at Christmas and Always


Author Ruth Chou Simons has created a beautiful advent devotional that helps draw the reader closer to the Savior. I recently had the opportunity to review the audiobook of Emmanual. It was read by the author who has a very soothing voice. As Simons discusses how our hearts may be distracted during the holiday season, she encourages the reader to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. Each day offers a thought-provoking essay, a suggested song of Christmas to meditate on, and a prayer to close out the day.

As the cover reveals, Simons is a gifted artist so my first recommendation would be to buy the physical book (I purchased a copy after listening to the audiobook). If however, in this busy season, you just don't have time to read, then I highly recommend the audiobook. It could be listened to by the whole family while eating dinner or played before bedtime or listened to during a commute to work. The only disappointment was that I wish the suggested song had actually been played on the audiobook. Or even just have the words read. Some songs may not be familiar to everyone and I feel that the richness of the devotional would be enhanced if the music had been included. So if you listen to the audiobook, you may want to have a hymnal handy (or employ a search engine) to find the hymn to listen to. I do like the fact that music is incorporated into each day. There are many beautiful Christmas hymns and only so many Sundays at church to sing them. 

If you are looking for a new way to prepare room in your heart this Christmas for the Savior, I highly recommend, Emmanuel. Whether you read it as a family or on your own, Simon's book will help center your advent on the One who came to save us. At one of the busiest, most chaotic times of the year, with pressures of various kinds, there is no better time to prepare room for Emmanual in our hearts and homes.

Disclaimer: I received a free digital audiobook of Emmanuel for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.

Sunday, November 6, 2022

The Secret Letters by Margaret Peterson Haddix

The Secret Letters was a delightful read from start to finish. Colin and Nevaeh's parents own two competing junk-clearing companies. Each has grown up "in the business" with mixed feelings about the job. In the process of clearing out a house, Colin finds a hidden shoebox which begins the treasure hunt of his life! But the "treasure" is not what you might expect! His search crosses paths with Nevaeh and together they become not only secret friends (their parents cannot stand each other) but also secret detectives.  

Colin and Nevaeh uncover the epistolary history of two childhood friends. But the letters abruptly end when they apparently had a falling out. Now the youngsters piece together clues and gather information trying to locate these now-grown pen pals. They hope to find out what went wrong and help get them reunited. But if Nevaeh's Dad knew she was spending time with Colin, he would definitely put an end to their investigations.

The author did a fabulous job of sprinkling in details about the time period throughout the book as well as offering additional historical notes at the end of the book. Young readers will come away with a more complete understanding of the struggles for equality that women faced in years past. I felt the topic was handled in a way that children could understand.

Positive elements I particularly liked: strong family dynamics in both Colin's and Nevaeh's homes; positive attitude toward work; an examination of the expectations our family may have of us and how that can impact one's future choices. 

I'm excited that this is the first in a series and can't wait to read the next one! 

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of The Secret Letters from NetGalley for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.


Sunday, October 30, 2022

The Rising Tide by Ann Cleves


I was already familiar with Vera Stanhope from the British drama series, "Vera," but I had never read the books upon which the series was based.  I have to admit that the book added a lot of color and internal dialogue to the character that the screen cannot adequately replicate (although it comes very close!). 

In The Rising Tide, a group of friends has gathered for their every 5-year reunion that had been going on for decades. The gathering had always been shadowed by a tragedy that had occurred at the inaugural meeting as teenagers, but those events came into sharper focus when one of their members was found dead by apparent suicide. Vera does not take facts at face value and begins questioning the determination. Her suspicions prove true that there is more to the victim's death than was first believed and so begins the arduous task of not only unraveling the events of this year's get-together but also trying to make sense of the death that bonded them all together in an alarming way so many years prior. Someone within the group has been hanging onto a deadly secret and Vera intends to find out who.

The depth of character development in the books is amazing. The author is a master of creating mood and setting to create a mysterious, foreboding atmosphere. With details slowly unfolding, the reader goes on a wild ride, always wondering and guessing who may have committed the crime. Cleves lays out snippets of clues like a trail of breadcrumbs for the reader to follow, unaware of the dangers that await the characters along the way.

I really enjoyed learning more about Vera's life and what made her tick throughout the book. I highly recommend the audio version to be fully immersed in the British flavor. Narrator Janine Birkett did an exceptional job with perfect elocution and variation in voices with masterful rhythm and timbre. If you enjoy a cerebral mystery and an intricately woven backstory, then you will love The Rising Tide!

Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of The Rising Tide audiobook from NetGalley for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

The Plot and the Pendulum


Local librarian Lindsey seems to have a knack for getting in the middle of a mystery. It all began when a former resident, William turned up at the library offering to donate his mother's extensive book collection. Lindsey can hardly believe her good fortune. Some of the books include rare first editions and other valuable titles. She eagerly set up a time to begin boxing and removing the books from William's home, not realizing that his mother wasn't thrilled with her son's generosity. 

While starting to pack up the books, a mysterious cat appears that bears a striking resemblance to a cat that went missing over 30 years ago. Another decades-old disappearance had to do with what the town called the "Runaway Bride." With strange happenings and rumors rekindled about whether the bride ever actually left town, Lindsey discovers clues that may lead to solving the cold case.  But in doing so, she may have unknowingly put herself in danger.

This is a great cozy mystery for fall--nothing too creepy but enough twists and turns to make for an enjoyable mystery. Love the title that is a play on words of one of Edgar Allan Poe's tales. Allyson Ryan did a great job narrating the story with voice variations for different characters. If you enjoy a light-hearted mystery (with not too much gory detail), then McKinlay's novel is just the thing for a blustery fall evening or weekend!

Disclaimer: I was granted access to The Plot and the Pendulum audiobook through NetGalley for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.

The Famously Funny Parrott

  Cast of  Characters Freddie Parrott III: Parrott extraordinaire Peccary: Loyal butler to Freddie (and fixer of sticky situations) Local Co...