Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Great Alone gets 4.5 Stars {adult fiction}

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah is an adult lit (older teens could handle it especially if they loved Nightingale or Picoult books) book.  This strong female character is amazing. Set in the 70s. Deals with abuse and PTSD, and a page turner.  In my book review it gets 4.5 out of 5 stars.  Fantastic book! Check it out. Fiction. Vietnam War, Family, Alohamora Open a Book; alohamoraopenabook; www.alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com

I absolutely adored Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale; it earned 5 stars from me and remains one of the best books I've ever read.  When I saw that Hannah wrote another book I was anxious to check it out.  Even though it comes in at almost 450 pages, The Great Alone is a fast read; it's a page turner.  I found the story to be captivating, riveting, and pulls on your heart strings. 

The Great Alone follows the Allbrights, a family in the 1970s who move a lot and finally settle in Alaska.  Ernt, the father was a POW in Vietnam and suffers from PTSD, leads his family to Alaska to get away from most of civilization and claim some land and a cabin Ernt's war buddy gifted him.

Alaska is a place of strength, but its winters are full of dark days.  The winters are tough, and one must be prepared for them.  The Allbrights don't know how to prepare, but the small community pulls together to help them, and that same community then help them survive the many dark days of the winters there.  Cora and her 13 year old daughter Leni also strengthen one another and have a beautiful relationship.   

I had several thoughts while reading this story.  One of them was, "Wow! Alaska sounds beautiful and amazing." and the other thought was, "I wish I was tough enough to handle Alaska."  Another thought I had was that I hope we all can have a Large Marge sometime in our life, or maybe the time in our life we need the most help. I especially loved the character Large Marge; she is maybe one of my favorite characters of all time.  She is smart, tough, kind, and fighter through and through.  

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah gets 4.5 out of 5 stars in my book review.  I thoroughly loved this book.  I loved the depth of the story line that involves abuse, friendship, and making the tough decisions that can define and change our lives.  I loved the entire story from beginning to end.  Sure, there were times the characters with their naivety frustrated me, but their strength and growth had me cheering along with them.  I was concerned, happy, scared, and worried throughout the novel.  I loved how the story seemed realistic, but that realism also caused predictability in a climatic moment.   Overall, The Great Alone didn't leave me in WOW like Hannah's previous book, but it's a really great read. Definitely check it out.  

One thing I love about Kristin Hannah's books are the strong female characters and that every day people can be heroic.  Her books are really just fantastic, and inspire greatness!  Love. 💗 


I also loved reading the epilogue and the personal connection Hannah has with the story.  It was powerful, and maybe made me love the story a bit more.  

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Best For: Adults, and 16 year old+ teens who like Picoult books.
Clean Read: Yes. There's a little language, action, spouse abuse, and sex is mentioned.  

Worth a Check Out: Yes.
Buy It or Not: It's a great book to purchase, but I won't be buying it.
Read Aloud: No, but it is a great audiobook too.
Book Club Discussion Ideas: Vietnam War and the culture in America there.  Are we ever really prepared for the harsh winters of our life?  Could you survive life in Alaska? Abuse, is it harder to get away in solitude? Alcoholism.  PTSD. How do you cope with the Dark Days?


Did you read The Great AloneWhat did you think? 

Just a couple quotes and thoughts I loved from The Great Alone:

"You know what they say about finding a man in Alaska: the odds are good but the goods are odd." 

"Leni will always ache for the dad she always wanted and Matthew aches for the mom he lost." 





Monday, June 4, 2018

Secrets of a Charmed Life gets 5 Stars {adult, historical fiction}

Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner is a clean adult historical fiction set during the London Blitz in WWII.  5 out of 5 stars for this excellent book review and a beautiful story of love, chasing dreams, mistakes, family, with a touch of mystery.  Excellent  Go check it out.  Great audiobook too. Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/ alohamoraopenabook

World War II. London Blitz. Fate. Mystery. Family. Dreams.  

Secrets of  Charmed Life by Susan Meissner is a beautiful WWII historical fiction story of resilience, family, mistakes, chasing dreams, and the makings of a happy life.  This novel is fantastic; I loved every minute of it.  There was excellent character development, an unpredictable story, and powerful moments that are impactful.  


The story of Julia and Emmy set during the time of the London Blitz not only opens your eyes to how extensive the bombings in London were, but also how resilient the community was with the motto, "Keep on and carry on" spoken.  Julia and Emmy's stories have similar threads of love and acceptance.       

Susan Meissner is a wonderful author.  I loved Fall of Marigolds, but I enjoyed Secrets of a Charmed Life even more.  If you are looking for a great clean adult historical fiction read, you must check out Meissner's books. 


Happy London Blitz Historical Fiction Reading! 


Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner
Rating: 5/5 stars
Best For: Adults.
Clean Read: Yes. There's action, and intensity regarding war time, but considered it clean. 

Worth a Check Out: Yes. The audiobook is a great check-out as well.
Buy It or Not: Buy, especially if you love historical fictions.
Read Aloud: The historical aspect of the London Blitz and the mystery that goes along with it would make a good read aloud with the right group/class.  It'd make a great book club book.
Book Club Discussion Ideas: How extensive the London Blitz was, Resilience, Impact of choices, Is it ever okay to lie?, People make mistakes, Fate and providence, What makes up a happy life?



Did you read Secrets of a Charmed LifeWhat did you think? 



Just a couple quotes and thoughts I loved from Secrets of a Charmed Life:

"Don't chase only the dream. Life is a journey not a destination."

We play the cards we've been dealt and other cards around us are impacted by the cards we play.

A happy life is not made up of what you dreamed of or achieved, but who you poured your  life into and who poured theirs into yours.  Love for others should be the motivation.


Monday, May 21, 2018

God Made Mommy/Daddy Special- Instagram Giveaway Too!

God Made Mommy/Daddy Special board books. Perfect for toddlers and preschoolers, and a sweet story for families to read together.  Baby Shower gift.  Mother/s Day, Father's Day. by Glenys Nellist picture book, reading together, board book, sweet book. Alohamora Open a Book, Alohamoraopenabook http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com giveway on instagram

Just sweet.  Sweet, cute, simple, and fun stories for Mommy's and Daddy's to read with their little ones.  

God Made Mommy Special and God Made Daddy Special by Glenys Nellist is a sweet rhyming story about various animals and their little ones.  

Glenys Nellist really has wrote some super cute books.  I first found her when I bought this Christmas book for our family.  We now have this cute Easter book as well.  If you haven't read any of Nellist's books, you need to check them out. 

God Made Mommy/Daddy Special board books. Perfect for toddlers and preschoolers, and a sweet story for families to read together.  Baby Shower gift.  Mother/s Day, Father's Day. by Glenys Nellist picture book, reading together, board book, sweet book. Alohamora Open a Book, Alohamoraopenabook http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com giveway on instagram

The animals in the Mommy book and the Daddy book are different, and that makes it even more fun for kids.  You must check out these cute books, especially if you have toddlers or preschoolers.

God Made Mommy/Daddy Special board books. Perfect for toddlers and preschoolers, and a sweet story for families to read together.  Baby Shower gift.  Mother/s Day, Father's Day. by Glenys Nellist picture book, reading together, board book, sweet book. Alohamora Open a Book, Alohamoraopenabook http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com giveway on instagram

Lucky for you, you have a chance to win them on my Instagram @ Alohamoraopenabook.   Be sure to look for the post today.  You'll have two days to win.  If you aren't lucky enough to win through my Giveaway, there is word on the street that you could win next week over at With The Huddlestons.

Good luck!  

Hopefully, you'll be able to win these for a great Father's Day gift.  We all need Father's Day ideas, and this will make things a bit easy.   


Happy Sweet, Simple, and Fun Books' Reading! 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Caldecott 2018 Winners {picture books, nonfiction, book list}

2018 Caldecott Winners aka the award for the book published in america in 2017 with the best pictures/illustrations.  book list great books Alohamora Open a Book alohamoraopenabook http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

The Caldecott is a prestigious award named after Randolph Caldecott.  The award is given to the artist/illustrator of the best American published books.  

When I was the librarian in Denver, I had a 2nd grader that was fascinated with my "Caldecott Medal Winners" poster and checked out every single winner.  I feel a bit like that little boy b/c every year I check out the Caldecott Medal and Honor (runner-ups) books.  

This year, the 2018 Caldecott  Medal Winner is: 



The 2018 Caldecott Honor books are: 









Some Caldecott years I completely adore all of the books for their story and illustrations, and some years I think the pictures are cool but the stories are lacking.  This year, I'm probably somewhere in between.  I thought some books were amazing, and I loved the diversity in the books.  

Check out the links above for my reviews on each of the Caldecott books this year.  

Which Caldecott book this year is your favorite? I'd probably vote for Grand Canyon, but maybe that is my Arizona connection.   Though, I really loved A Different Pond as well. 

Happy Caldecott reading! 



Monday, April 16, 2018

Grand Canyon gets 4.5 Stars {nonfiction, caldecott}

Grand Canyon by Jason Chin won a Caldecott Honor book in 2018. This illustrated nonfiction book is fantastic.  There is a ton of information including ecology, history, geology, animals, biology, maps, and so much more.  Fascinating book 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th graders will enjoy.  Teachers and those living in AZ will enjoy it immenseley.  Fantastic book! Check it out! AZ Grand Canyon, History. Alohamora Open a Book, Alohamoraopenabook http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/
 
Grand Canyon by Jason Chin is absolutely fantastic.  The illustrations are gorgeous.  The details, such as the end paper map shown below, are exceptional and make this book a must addition for any library collection.

Grand Canyon by Jason Chin won a Caldecott Honor book in 2018. This illustrated nonfiction book is fantastic.  There is a ton of information including ecology, history, geology, animals, biology, maps, and so much more.  Fascinating book 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th graders will enjoy.  Teachers and those living in AZ will enjoy it immenseley.  Fantastic book! Check it out! AZ Grand Canyon, History. Alohamora Open a Book, Alohamoraopenabook http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

The information found in the Grand Canyon book is extensive.  It covers the geology of the Grand Canyon, ecology, biology including insects and animals, and so much more.  Though, the information is not the only thing found in this book, the story of a father and daughter's adventure hiking in the Grand Canyon is a welcome addition.  To be honest, this book could be used as a long picture book for younger students, or a research/fact book for older.  Both audiences/readers will learn something new about the Grand Canyon. 

Grand Canyon by Jason Chin won a Caldecott Honor book in 2018. This illustrated nonfiction book is fantastic.  There is a ton of information including ecology, history, geology, animals, biology, maps, and so much more.  Fascinating book 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th graders will enjoy.  Teachers and those living in AZ will enjoy it immenseley.  Fantastic book! Check it out! AZ Grand Canyon, History. Alohamora Open a Book, Alohamoraopenabook http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

The story aspect and the nonfiction aspect merge together on pages that send the characters "back" in time billions of years ago to what the area looked like.  To be honest, the first time the story went back to the past I was a little confused, but it eventually made sense.  I think this confusion in the book is what made me rate the Grand Canyon at 4.5 out of 5 stars

Grand Canyon by Jason Chin won a Caldecott Honor book in 2018. This illustrated nonfiction book is fantastic.  There is a ton of information including ecology, history, geology, animals, biology, maps, and so much more.  Fascinating book 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th graders will enjoy.  Teachers and those living in AZ will enjoy it immenseley.  Fantastic book! Check it out! AZ Grand Canyon, History. Alohamora Open a Book, Alohamoraopenabook http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

The book is fantastic!  It truly is such a great book that I have high praise for.  The very end of the book, when the story is over, there are pages of facts and even more information about the Grand Canyon.  Honestly, the amount of information in this book is quite impressive, and a person that loves Arizona, the Grand Canyon, geology, ecology, or biology should definitely get their hands on this book.  This book should be, I hope it is, sold in the gift shops at the Grand Canyon National Park.

Grand Canyon by Jason Chin won a Caldecott Honor book in 2018. This illustrated nonfiction book is fantastic.  There is a ton of information including ecology, history, geology, animals, biology, maps, and so much more.  Fascinating book 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th graders will enjoy.  Teachers and those living in AZ will enjoy it immenseley.  Fantastic book! Check it out! AZ Grand Canyon, History. Alohamora Open a Book, Alohamoraopenabook http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

I loved many things about Grand Canyon, but this double fold out page illustrating the entire Grand Canyon is gorgeous!  It's honestly frame worthy, but I love it even more b/c it is in a kid's book.  This double fold out page will be awed and loved by those that own this book, but like many library books with fold-outs, it may be a little beat-up. 

I'm so happy that Jason Chin won a Caldecott Honor for Grand Canyon; in my opinion it is so well deserved.

Grand Canyon by Jason Chin won a Caldecott Honor book in 2018. This illustrated nonfiction book is fantastic.  There is a ton of information including ecology, history, geology, animals, biology, maps, and so much more.  Fascinating book 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th graders will enjoy.  Teachers and those living in AZ will enjoy it immenseley.  Fantastic book! Check it out! AZ Grand Canyon, History. Alohamora Open a Book, Alohamoraopenabook http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

Happy Fabulous Non-Fiction Completely Entertaining Scientific reading!

Grand Canyon by Jason Chin

Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Best For: 8-13 years old, 3rd to 7th grade. 

Worth a Check Out: Yes
Buy It or Not: Great book. Definitely a purchase for a library collection, science lover, or Arizona teacher.
Read Aloud: No, it is far too long.  Though, you could read parts.   

Lesson Ideas: Arizona, The Grand Canyon, history, geology, ecology, animals, biology, maps, Caldecott.


Thursday, April 12, 2018

A Different Pond gets 4.5 Stars {picture book, graphic novel}

A Different Pond by Bao Phi and illustrated by Thi Bui won a Caldecott Honor in 2018.  The book is a beautiful story about family, immigration, father son relationship, and a sweet story.  The almost graphic novel appearance of this picture book is fun to read.  The illustrations are gorgeous with an artsy take.  A great book, and a great addition to any library collection. Great for 2nd grade through 6th grade. picture book, kidlit, award books, read aloud, immigrants. Alohamoraopenabook Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

At first glance, A Different Pond by Bao Phi and illustrated by Thi Bui doesn't seem much to look at.  You may not be incredibly tempted to grab this book off the shelf b/c of the title or the cover.  I know, I wasn't tempted until after it won a Caldecott Honor.   

However, A Different Pond, is a fabulous book!  The story is a sweet story about the author growing up and going fishing with his father in Minnesota.  He and his father would go fishing out of necessity, but the time together was priceless I am sure.   I loved the close family relationship portrayed in this book.  I love the different immigration perspective, and I loved hearing Bao's father share about a different pond in Vietnam he would fish at.   


A Different Pond by Bao Phi and illustrated by Thi Bui won a Caldecott Honor in 2018.  The book is a beautiful story about family, immigration, father son relationship, and a sweet story.  The almost graphic novel appearance of this picture book is fun to read.  The illustrations are gorgeous with an artsy take.  A great book, and a great addition to any library collection. Great for 2nd grade through 6th grade. picture book, kidlit, award books, read aloud, immigrants. Alohamoraopenabook Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

I loved the graphic novel like look but with a more artsy take Thi Bui did for A Different Pond.  The illustrations enhanced the beautiful story.  The combination of a touching, powerful, and educational story with stunning illustrations is why this book earned 4.5 out of 5 stars


A Different Pond by Bao Phi and illustrated by Thi Bui won a Caldecott Honor in 2018.  The book is a beautiful story about family, immigration, father son relationship, and a sweet story.  The almost graphic novel appearance of this picture book is fun to read.  The illustrations are gorgeous with an artsy take.  A great book, and a great addition to any library collection. Great for 2nd grade through 6th grade. picture book, kidlit, award books, read aloud, immigrants. Alohamoraopenabook Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

You need to check this book out.  It'd make a great read diversity read aloud, and a perfect book for an immigration lesson.  Even though it is a clean and touching story I think 2nd grade through 6th grade would be the ideal audience for this book. The story is powerful and eye opening; older readers would gain more from the sweet story.  


A Different Pond by Bao Phi and illustrated by Thi Bui won a Caldecott Honor in 2018.  The book is a beautiful story about family, immigration, father son relationship, and a sweet story.  The almost graphic novel appearance of this picture book is fun to read.  The illustrations are gorgeous with an artsy take.  A great book, and a great addition to any library collection. Great for 2nd grade through 6th grade. picture book, kidlit, award books, read aloud, immigrants. Alohamoraopenabook Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

The information and personal pictures about the author, Bao Phi, and illustrator, Thi Bui, found in the back of the book is fantastic.  I loved reading all about Phi and Bui.  Their history and personal connection with the story is powerful, and helps the reader feel even stronger for the story.  This page was a great ending to a wonderful book. Go check this read out!  

Happy New Perspective on Immigrants reading!

A Different Pond by Bao Phi illustrated by Thi Bui

Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Best For: 7-12 years old, 2nd to 6th grade. 

Worth a Check Out: Yes
Buy It or Not: Great book. Definitely a purchase for a library collection.
Read Aloud: Yes.  

Lesson Ideas: Immigration, immigrants, diversity, Asian culture, family, father-son time, family relationships, Caldecott.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut gets 4 Stars {picture book, caldecott, newbery}


Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut written by Derrick Barnes and illustrated by Gordon C. James won all of the awards this year.  This book was definitely the big ALA winner; it came away with 7 awards.  With a Caldecott Honor, aka runner-up for illustrations, Newbery Honor, aka a runner-up for the written story, and a Coretta Scott King Award, an award for the best book by an African-American, for the author and illustrator. Barnes and Gordon seem to be quite the dream team, and even more impressive they are both new to the writing/illustrating world. 

Most people adored this book, and it's not new to me for feeling differently from the majority.  To be honest, I felt Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut is a great book to add to your collection for more diversity.  I felt the concept of taking pride in your appearance, getting a hair cut in this instance, can build self-esteem.  The story and the pictures are unique and beautiful in their own ways.  I thought the word choice was excellent and descriptive with words like magnificent, flawless, and a comparison to royalty.  


Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes and Illustrated by Gordon C. James is a picture book about an African American boy who is excited to get a hair cut, and seems to build his self-esteem when he does get it cut.  Newbery Honor book (best story runner-up), Caldecott Honor book (best pictures runner-up) and several other awards.  This kidlit book earns 4 out of 5 stars in my book review. I think best geared to toddlers through 2nd grade.  Great diversity book. Alohamora Open a Book, alohamoraopenabook http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

My major qualm with the book, and why it earned 4 out of 5 stars was because the storyline and the wording seem more appropriate for 4th through 6th grade, however the concept of pride felt from a hair cut, and the excitement for going to get a cut seems more appropriate for preschoolers.  I think the audience this book is best suited for is off and the reason for my lack of enthusiasm.     

According to Goodreads, I am in the minority with my rating.  What do you think? Where do you rate this Caldecott and Newbery Honor book?      

Happy New Hair Cut Self-Esteem Building picture book reading!

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes illustrated by Gordon C. James

Rating: 4/5 stars
Best For: 2-7 years old, Toddlers to 2nd grade. 

Worth a Check Out: Yes
Buy It or Not: It's a great diversity book, if your collection is lacking diversity you need this book.
Read Aloud: Yes.  If you are talking about hair-cut or appearance impacting self-esteem.

Lesson Ideas: Hair cut, barbershop, African-American, word choice 6 traits writing, Caldecott, Newbery.