LILA AND THE CROW – By Gabrielle Grimard

Lila and the Crow Cover

Lila and the Crow


This book is beautifully illustrated, and the story it tells is heartwarming and lovely as well.

Lila is new in town and is so excited to start school and make many new friends. Once she gets to school, though, she quickly becomes the victim of bullying, and her dream has been shattered.

This ebook was given to me by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Knives Boone

Gabrielle Grimard

Gabrielle Grimard


Small Great Things Cover

Small Great Things


Ruth Jefferson is an African American labor and delivery nurse with twenty years of experience under her belt, raising her teenage son, Edison, alone after her husband was killed while fighting in Afghanistan.

One fateful day, she meets Turk and Brittany Bauer, and begins performing a routine examination of their newborn son, Davis. As she hands the baby back to Brittany to try to help get Davis to nurse, Turk gets angry and asks her to leave and wants to talk to her supervisor, whom he expresses his wish that no African American staff be allowed to touch his son while brandishing his White Supremacist Confederate Flag on his forearm.

A few days later, when an unrelated medical crisis occurs shortly after Davis’s circumcision, Ruth is the only one left to attend to the baby, and he crashes while in her care. Although a team of doctors and nurses rush in to try to save him, Davis dies. Turk immediately blames Ruth for the death of his son, and soon Ruth finds herself on trial for murder. Will Ruth end up in prison for the murder of an innocent baby, or will she be acquitted?

This book was “traditional” Jodi Picoult. She returned to her formulaic courtroom novel format. Usually when an author follows a formula, after one or two novels, it becomes boring and even monotonous – not so in the case of Jodi Picoult. She always manages to bring such fresh new situations into each of her books. Her courtroom novels never come across as “same old, same old”, or worn out. Small Great Things is no different, it is exactly what one would expect from this author – twists and turns, and events that are never expected.

The one thing that could have made this book better for me, would be if the change in Turk had not been so immediate and complete. Although I think this is the appropriate ending and what ultimately needed to happen in order to solidify his character growth, sadly, in the real world people usually don’t change that much that quickly.

Race is most definitely at the core of this novel. At times it is raw and uncomfortable. Words and phrases are used that will make the reader squirm in their seats now and then. Situations develop that make the reader really question his/her own prejudices. As I was reading this book, I stopped numerous times to Google things mentioned, and learn more about real life people referenced. I learned a great deal about how real White Supremacy still is in this country, unfortunately, as well as how although we like to THINK we don’t see color, in reality we do. We all do.

Potentially Offensive Content:

Sex – I do not recall any overtly sexual situations

Violence – infant death is discussed, including a short description of the autopsy, hate crimes abound – numerous attacks on innocents by white supremacists, brutal physical attacks on people of color, verbal abuse, verbal assault

Language – Nearly every racial slur imaginable, there were many swear words and other potentially offensive language sprinkled throughout the entire book. The “F” word is used multiple times.

I would highly recommend this novel to anyone who has ever thought about race, anyone who thinks they are not prejudiced in any way, and anyone who thinks they don’t “see color”.

“It just goes to show you, every baby is born beautiful. It’s what we project on them that makes them ugly”. (Jodi Picoult)

This ebook was given to me for free by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Keppy Boone

Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult


Baby Bear's Not Hibernating Cover

Baby Bear’s Not Hibernating

Written by Lynn Plourde, Illustrated by Teri Weidner



So first of all, I must tell you about my hatred of black bears. Once, years ago while hiking in the Great Smokey Mountains outside Gatlinburg, Tennessee, my husband and I encountered a black bear and her two cubs about 100 yards away from us. This was a beautiful sight, seeing bears in nature, just being bears.

But then… and there is always a but then, isn’t there?? On the way back down the mountain, we again came across this momma bear, but her cubs were not anywhere we could see them, and she was standing up against a tree scratching the tree and grunting at us about 20 feet away. Needless to say, I was terrified. I was so afraid I couldn’t even pee my pants! I merely melted onto the ground in a pile of fear.

It’s become a family joke to make fun of my fear of bears, so when I saw this book, I knew I had to read it. And what a great treat it was! This little baby bear is pretty much exactly like every toddler I’ve ever known, he doesn’t want to go to bed. More specifically, he doesn’t want to hibernate, and he tells his family as well as all his forest friends that he’s choosing not to hibernate.

He comes up with a plan, and although he tries very hard, the plan doesn’t go as he’d hoped. His parents and his forest friends are wonderfully sweet and attentive to him, and keep him free from harm during his shenanigans.

Lynn Plourde has won many awards for her books through the years, and it’s easy to see why, and Teri Weidner is a fantastic artist, the illustrations are beautiful!

This book was given to me by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Knives Boone

Learn more about Lynn Plourde

Learn more about Teri Weidner

Lynn Plourde

Lynn Plourde

Teri Weidner

Teri Weidner


Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea Cover

Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea


This book was amazing. Not only will I be purchasing a few of these for Christmas gifts this year, I will probably have to buy myself a copy to read to my future grandchildren. 

First and foremost, the fact that there was a reference to The Beatles’s song Octopus’s Garden sealed the deal for me. But honestly, I both chuckled to myself and laughed out loud at both the wonderful writing, which was amazingly witty and snarky for a kid’s book, and the illustrations, which were just perfect. And there are quite a few interesting narwhal facts included, so you’ll learn something, too!
This little book would most definitely be enjoyed by kids of any age, as well as adults. Sometimes reading the same style children’s books to your little ones gets a bit boring, but adding this in the mix will induce giggles from everyone. 

This book was given to me for free by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Knives Boone

Ben Clanton

Ben Clanton


The Light Fantastic Cover

The Light Fantastic


MY RATING: 3.5/5

September 13th 2016 by Candlewick Press

Seven tightly interwoven narratives. Three harrowing hours. One fateful day that changes everything.

The Light Fantastic is written from the perspective of seven characters:

  1. April Hope Donovan
  2. Lincoln Evans
  3. Gavin
  4. Sandra Heslip
  5. The Mastermind
  6. Idaho (Phoebe)
  7. Pallav Ghakar

The date is April 19, 2013 in Delaware, and it is April Hope Donovan’s 18th birthday, who was born on the day of the Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh. She was born with some health problems, that’s why her mother gave her the middle name “Hope”. She has a Hyper Superior Autobiographical Memory (her name for it, the official term is hyperthymesia), which means she can remember everything she has ever experienced with perfect recall. Her character is a bit neurotic and anxious, but I love her. She is sassy and witty and absolutely full of fascinating random facts throughout the book.

Lincoln Evans used to live in Delaware and be best friends with April until his father died on 9/11 in the World Trade Center during a business trip. After his father’s death, he moved to Nebraska. He is in Sandra Heslip’s Honor’s English class with Laura Echols, whom he has a major crush on.

Gavin is one of April’s best friends, along with Gina. Gavin thinks in hashtags. I found this to add a fun element of humor and at times grave seriousness to his chapters.

Sandra Heslip is the Honor’s English teacher. On this day, she lets her class out early, as it was Senior Skip Day and of the students who attended school anyway, none of the them were particularly interested in paying attention. She is an extremely talented and caring teacher, and when one of her student’s makes a threatening statement to her she brings it to the principal, who brushes this concern aside to focus instead on the fact that she dismissed her students early. Understandably, this bothers her greatly, and she is extremely worried about Adrian, the student who made the threatening statement.

The Mastermind is in California. His exact identity is never given, but that is a detail that isn’t important. He is the one who started it all… It started as a joke and spiraled out of control until it became The Plan and at one point involved 50 students who were unhappy with life and tired of everything.

Online, Phoebe is known only as “Idaho”. In the forum that The Mastermind set up, each participant is given the nickname of a state. The forums are a safe, anonymous place where all of The Assassins can work on The Plan. Everything is going well with Phoebe until she meets a guy named Dylan Fisher online, and pretty much ruins everything in her life and destroys her self-esteem.

Lastly, there is Pallav Gahkar “Pal”, an Indian student who gets good grades, and seems to excel at everything he does.

So now that I have gathered together the list of players, let’s talk about the plot. The Mastermind is unhappy with life, upset with his father, and pretty much hates everything. Online, he half-jokingly says something about pulling off a school shooting, which sets The Assassins into motion with The Plan.

It wasn’t really serious at all, the not-yet Plan. It was just this ha-ha thing that everybody on the forum made jokes about. Wouldn’t it be funny if–? Could you imagine just walking in one day and being like–?

In all seriousness, it was all fun and games until it sort of wasn’t. Then it got a little weird — like admittedly, a little tense. The forum wasn’t the same after the Mastermind started joking around about the Plan.

At the beginning of the book, the reader isn’t really sure what the heck is going on, and it all seems confusing. Slowly, the story begins to come together and you get a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach realizing that this is really about a group of kids planning mass school shootings simultaneously across the country on April 19, 1995.

One Nation, Under the Assassins, Indivisible, with Revenge and Punishment for All.

The story unfolds in chapters alternating between the seven viewpoint characters. I found this to be a very good way to feed pieces of information to the reader in a very meaningful manner. I really enjoyed this book, but I did feel like the end was a bit abrupt, although finding out who the shooter is absolutely felt like a punch to the gut.

I recommend this to anyone who likes YA thrillers, though I think others would also like it.

Looking for something similar?
I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb
Columbine by Dave Cullen
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
One Breath Away by Heather Gudenkauf

Plot 📕📕📕
Characters 📕📕📕📕📕
Writing 📕📕📕
Pacing 📕📕📕
Cover 📕📕
Overall 📗📗📗

This book was given to me by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


Sarah Combs

Sarah Combs

Knives Boone

LEAVE ME – By Gayle Forman

Leave Me Cover

Leave Me



Published September 6, 2016 by Algonquin Books

Maribeth Klein is a 44 year old stressed out mother of young twins, who has recently suffered a heart attack requiring emergency bypass surgery. As she has been unexpectedly confronted with her own mortality, she begins to take stock of her entire life, decided to leave her husband and twins behind in New York to hide out in Pittsburg – presumably to unwind and relax a while. 

Once there, she meets people who help her understand herself in ways she hadn’t even thought possible. Will she return to her husband, or stay in her new found safe space in Pittsburg?

Although I enjoyed the book, and it’s pro-adoption message, I felt a little disappointed by some unanswered questions at the end. I am not a reader who demands that all loose ends be tied up neatly at the end, but a huge question that permeated through the book remained unanswered, taking away from my satisfaction with the book as a whole.

Maribeth’s character seemed a bit self-centered to me, as well. I couldn’t easily relate to a mother who just seemingly on a whim leaves her family, just for some time alone, even if it’s to deal with some personal demons of her own. Her husband also seemed way more forgiving than most men would in a similar circumstance. 


Violence: Very brief reference to a battered wife

Language: Strong language is used sporadically throughout, including the “f” word.

I would recommend this to anyone who likes to read quick, easy fiction. This book has no heavy content, without an abundance of romance, which would have completely taken away from the main focus of the plot.

Plot 📕📕📕
Characters 📕📕📕
Writing 📕📕📕📕
Pacing 📕📕📕
Cover 📕📕📕
Overall 📕📕📕

This book was given to me for free by NetGalley exchange for an honest review.

Knives Boone

Gayle Forman

Gayle Forman

THE DAY I BECAME A BIRD – By Ingrid Chabbert

The Day I Became A Bird Cover

The Day I Became A Bird


MY RATING: 4.75/5

Published September 6, 2016 by Kids Can Press

A young boy falls for a girl in his school, Sylvia, who is an avid bird lover. When he decides to wear a bird costume to school, will the other kids make fun of him? Will he catch the eye of his bird lover?

The illustrations in this book are gorgeous, as is the writing. The story is so amazingly sweet and captures all the emotions of trying to garner the attention of a first crush – fear of failing, nervousness about putting one’s self “out there”, hope that things will turn out as anticipated.

I received this e-book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Knives Boone

Ingrid Chabbert

Ingrid Chabbert