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Ebb and Flow–some good in everyone

Ebb and Flow

by Heather T. Smith

Ebb and FlowEbb and Flow is a sad, emotionally laden story of sins, redemption and forgiveness. It is written in free verse and as such leads to tremendous teaching opportunities. Because rhyming poetry is so easily identifiable for children, it can be difficult to explain the difference between poetry and prose when the poetry does not rhyme. Ebb and Flow is a whole book of examples to demonstrate the concept. It also is an excellent exemplar of poetry as a form of storytelling. The poems in this book demonstrate the effectiveness of well-chosen words. All of these ideas are appropriate to the intended age range of eight to twelve years (grades four to seven).

As an adult I was moved by the book which lets Jett tell his own story of a father in jail, a move to a new town intended to provide a fresh start, and a disastrous year in the new surroundings. There is hope for Jett in a summer visit to a think-outside-the-box grandmother who sees the good in Jett and provides opportunities for him to work through his issues. Although  the problems addressed in the book are a reality to be endured for some children, in general they are above the maturity level of most eight year olds: child abuse, spousal abuse, incarceration, homelessness, and the maturity level of some special needs adults. While it could be helpful to some children, it could be frightening to others. Some parents would also object to the expletives found in two places in the book; personally I didn’t understand their inclusion as they did not add to the book in any way.

Thus I recommend the book with the reservation of parental guidance needed for language and content. There is little that is graphic but the overtone is emotionally charged despite the hopeful ending.

I would like to extend my thanks to and to Kids Can Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Children’s Fiction, Poetry

Notes: 1. warnings for domestic violence and swearing

  2. Age Range: 8-12 years

  3. Grade Level: 4-7

Publication:  April 3, 2018—Kids Can Press

Memorable Lines:

I just wanted to say

I’m glad you are here.

And all of a sudden, 

I was more than just air.



you think,

when I grow up,

I can be someone?

Grandma’s face went soft.

You ARE someone, dear.

You’re my Jett.


She gave me the room in the attic,

the one with the view of the sea.

Of all the rooms

in all the world

it was the awesomest room

of them all.

It made me feel cozy

and glow-y

and warm,

like a light had turned on

in my heart.

Dead Storage–dangerous secrets

Dead Storage

by Mary Feliz

Dead StorageWhat do you do when a good friend who also happens to be a really good person gets involved in a murder and asks you to keep a secret from his husband? If you are Maggie McDonald, professional organizing consultant, wife, and mother of two boys, you keep the secret, investigate the murder, and try to get your friend out of jail.

That is the short version of a fast-paced cozy mystery entitled Dead Storage. At times I was a little irritated with the way Maggie accepted red tape and being put off by those she was interviewing. Then I thought about three months this summer and the runaround I received in trying to get two birth certificates and repairs accomplished on a motorcycle under warranty. Actually what Maggie went through was pretty believable.

I recommend this book for its intricate mystery and interesting social elements. You will especially like it if you have a heart for the homeless, empathy for those with PTSD, and a passion for dogs.

I would like to extend my thanks to and to Kensington Books (Lyrical Underground) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #3 in the Maggie McDonald Mystery Series, but works as a standalone

Publication:  July 18, 2017–Kensington Books (Lyrical Underground)

Memorable Lines:

Clutter costs time and money. Even if you aren’t renting extra storage, if you’ve got so much stuff that you don’t know what you have or where it is, or you can’t find it when you need it, it’s nearly the same as having nothing at all.

Neighborliness wasn’t restricted to streets with single-family homes and gardens. Apartment buildings, parks and anywhere that people came together could provide community too.

While electronic communications are great for efficiency purposes, any emotional or dicey situation is so much better handled face-to-face.

Any Dream Will Do–a sweet story of second chances

Any Dream Will Do

by Debbie Macomber

Any Dream Will DoAny Dream Will Do is a story of second chances and redemption. Shay’s background sets her up to feel obligated to sacrifice for her brother Caden to make up for poor choices.  Upon release from a three year stay at the Washington Corrections Center for Women, her path crosses that of Drew, a widowed pastor with two children who is unable to move past the death of his wife. Neither is seeking a relationship and both have issues and problems they need to work through. As people of faith they attempt to do that carefully and using biblical principles as a moral compass.

Echoes of the past reverberate in the lives of Drew and Shay emphasizing that although they may get a second chance at happiness, there are no do-overs in life. The decisions of yesterday do affect the opportunities of today.

I like the characters in the book. Although the reader can see where the storyline is going, the characters are so amiable that you want to keep reading to watch the events play out. Also, the author Debbie Macomber keeps the plot interesting with unexpected complications.

I would like to extend my thanks to and to Random House (Ballantine) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Romance, Christian

Notes: #4 in the New Beginnings Series (a thematic series, not dependent on continuing characters)

Publication:   August 8, 2017— Random House (Ballantine)

Memorable Lines:

One day I hoped to marry a man like him. Not a pastor, but a decent man who wasn’t into drugs or cheating or hitting women. Sounds simple, right? Well, from my experience those men were far and few between, and if I did happen upon one, I wasn’t entirely sure I’d recognize him.

I found the kindness factor among those who lived on the streets humbling. for the most part the homeless never took what they didn’t need. Often if they knew of someone else who was doing without, then they would accept it to hand off for another.

And with help I’d found a way to forgive him, not because he’d asked or because he deserved my forgiveness. I’d done it for my own peace of mind, to unburden the heavy load of resentment, refusing to cart it around any longer. That didn’t mean I was willing to be drawn back into his craziness, however.

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