MrsK's K-8 Books Worth Reading

my best-reads-for-k-8 shelf:
MrsK Books's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (best-reads-for-k-8 shelf)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sister Dear by Laura McNeill

Sister Dear
ISBN: 9780718030926
Publisher's Synopsis:
Convicted of a crime she didn’t commit, Allie watched a decade of her life vanish. Now, out on parole, Allie is determined to clear her name and reconnect with the daughter she barely knows. But Allie’s return to Brunswick, Georgia, sends earthquakes through the small, coastal community. Even her daughter Caroline, now a teenager, challenges Allie’s claims of innocence. Refusing defeat, a stronger, smarter Allie launches a campaign for the truth, digging deep into the past. Her investigation threatens her parole status, her own safety, and the already-fragile bond with her family. What Allie uncovers is far worse than she imagined. Her own sister has been hiding a dark secret—one that holds the key to Allie’s freedom.

MrsK's Review:
"At first, the concept of liberty seemed impossible--
a hand trying to catch and hold vapor."
After a decade in the Arrendale State Prison, Allie will begin the long journey back into society. Instead of a "continuous loop" of a life in prison trying to envision all the firsts of her daughter's life, Allie will be reconstructing a relationship with her daughter. Being convicted of a manslaughter that she did not commit was life-shattering. Now that she has the chance to live free, she must bring an end to the shadowing of her conviction. Images of her daughter "choking back a sob," tears welling up in her little eyes and the forever promise that they would find the killer was firing through Allie's mind when she heard the words, "You're free to go." Once on a path to med school and becoming a surgeon, Allie will once again enter her father's veterinarian business only this time it will be a new doctor who believes in second chances. Her next step of freedom will be asking Ben to help re-open her case. 

"The catcalls and gossip floated in streams above her head.
Words bounced off lockers, twisting in midair...
Words could kill."
Caroline was the daughter of a convict. Given her love for her Aunt Emma, Caroline's only friendship came from Maddie. With the news of her mother's release, her world felt as if everything was exploding. Nothing could be worse than having your mom released from prison, other than the news that she was returning to Brunswick. With odd situations happening at school, even Maddie was keeping her distance. Can she trust her mom to prove her innocence? What is wrong with the old lady at the nursing home? Why is she always confusing her with her Aunt? What will she do now that Maddie is no longer in school?

"She couldn't lose Caroline. She wouldn't let it happen."
As dawn was breaking, Emma silently watched Caroline as she slept. What would happen now that Allie was coming home? Her dreams of an athletic scholarship had disappeared due to the "party" life style while at college. With Allie in jail, Emma had a chance at living a dream. Caroline was her life, she was all that mattered. Some how Emma must wipe out all connections to Allie!

"Allison Marshall was out. It was one heck of a way to start his week."
When a shoulder injury ended his quarterback dreams at Georgia State, Sheriff Gaines studied criminal justice and entered the Glynn County Sheriff's Department. For now, his life was about discipline and his wife June. A decade ago, the new coach had just come to town. When the coach was found dead, everything changed. Allie's return would not be good for him, the town, nor the secret.

"You don't have to worry... I will spend every day... making you happy.
I don't care about the past, I love you, and that's for always."
Ben has been in love with Allie forever. He was the boy next door. All those years ago, when she turned him down. When Allie returns and asks him to help her investigate what Coach had been giving his team, Ben wasn't sure he was willing to re-open the wounds. Yet, as a journalist he could pressure for the case to be re-opened.

As this mystery gains depth, secrets begin falling into place like a puzzle of deceit. Not everyone will be as "bad" as they seem. Not everyone is hiding the truth. Unfortunately, red-herrings will keep you guessing until the end.

Be willing to spend a day of non-stop reading,

An uniquely "twisted" mystery!
Meet the Author:
Laura McNeill  After six years behind the anchor desk at two CBS affiliates, Laura moved to the Alabama Gulf Coast to raise her family. Her accolades in broadcasting include awards from the Associated Press, including Best News Anchor and Best Specialized Reporter.
Laura’s writing awards include those from William Faulkner-Wisdom Writing Competition, Writer’s Digest, RWA, and the Eric Hoffer award. Center of Gravity was published in July 2015. Sister Dear will be released April 19, 2016 by HarperCollins. She currently resides in Birmingham, Alabama.
"I received this book for free from the Fiction Guild for this review."
Thomas Nelson

A Dream of Miracles by Ruth Reid

A Dream of Miracles (The Amish Wonders #3)
ISBN: 9781401688318
Publisher's Synopsis:
When Mattie and Bo cross paths, all signs point to disaster. Yet as they face a crucible of trials and tragedies together, longings begin to stir that seem destined only to end in more heartbreak.
And will Mattie find the courage to face her uncertain future . . . or will she simply run away?

MrsK's Review:
"Be not far from me, for trouble is near, for there is none to help."
PS 22:11
What began with a doctor's visit for Mattie's son Nathan, unravels into a horrifying experience that will threaten Mattie's motherhood, friendships, livelihood, and heart. Mattie is a widow who is trying to keep all the threads of life weaving forward along this journey as a single mother. She is strong in faith. She might not know the ways of the world, but she knows what she must do when the authorities are threatening to take her children away. No matter what people think, Mattie is a wonderful mother. She has done no wrong, and her strength will be found in trusting God, her faith in His word, and maybe... just maybe the compassion and guidance from Bo.
"God, I feel like the psalmist.
I have no one to help.
If trouble is near, please don't be far from me. Please."

Doctor Wellington is filling in for Doctor Roswell. Not only will Doctor Wellington misdiagnose Nathan's symptoms, but she will open the door for an investigation into Mattie's ability to care for her children.
"I strongly advise you not to refuse medical care for your child."

Bo Lambright is the CPS investigator called to Community Memorial. He is a man whose observations are accurate and who has compassion for all of those involved in his cases. He understands and knows the ways of the Amish and isn't convinced that Mattie has done anything to endanger her children. This investigation will lead Bo beyond his typical involvement and he will need to call in some assistance from Judge Nettleton. Will his "bending of the rules" cost him his career? Will his determination to help Mattie lead to a trial?
"Lord, is it too much to ask for an easy, open-and-shut case?" 

Erica Davis is on her first field assignment and thinks she is as qualified as Bo. She is determined to climb the ladder and unfortunately has a wealth of high profile connections. What she doesn't have is the background information about the Amish, nor the experience as a skilled observer. Her involvement will place Mattie in the mode to flee with her children.

Judge Nettleton is Bo's mother. Even with a political career in the making, she will be led to make a decision to trust Bo's observations. When evidence is given that a financial contribution was given to her platform, the Judge will need to decide what is important in life.

The anxiety in which Mattie must remain strong is at times unbearable, of course that is what makes a perfect read! This Amish story will twist and turn, there are many threads expertly woven. Before the reader realizes the direction in which Mattie's life is unfolding, the characters will experience changes that can only be made while walking in faith.

Experience Mattie's faith journey,

A Miracle of Hope (The Amis...  
Book 1     Book 2

Frustrating with disturbing choices, strengthened with inspiring faith, and expertly woven!

Meet the Author:
Ruth  Reid  The simplicity of the Amish lifestyle has intrigued me for years. While attending college at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan, I lived with retired dairy farmers and had the opportunity to meet many of the Amish in the area. I’ll never forget skipping classes one day to watch a barn raising. I was amazed at the craftsmanship without use of power tools. I’m still intrigued today. I love learning about their firm devotion to God and to each other. I’m blessed for the friendships formed in the process of writing my books.

"I received this book for free from the Fiction Guild for this review."
Thomas Nelson

The Drawing Lesson by Mark Crilley

ISBN: 9780385346337
Publisher's Synopsis:
For the first time ever, drawing instructor and graphic novelist Mark Crilley brings his easy-to-follow artistic instruction to aspiring artists in the form of a comic book, providing you with a one-of-a-kind how-to experience. In The Drawing Lesson, you’ll meet David—a young boy who wants nothing more than to learn how to draw. Luckily for David, he’s just met Becky—his helpful drawing mentor. Page by page, Becky teaches David (and you!) about the essential fundamentals that artists need in order to master drawing, all in a unique visual format. In panel after panel, Crilley provides lessons on shading, negative space, creating compositions, and more, with accompanying exercises that you can try for yourself. Are you ready to start your drawing lesson today?

MrsK's Review:
Every reader gets drawn into a story when the characters have facets that are true to their experiences. The crafting of a storyline in which the reader never looses the threads of a plot is essential. As a reader interacts, a movie begins playing within our minds, evoking feelings and tantalizing our senses. When stories have images, we as readers are provided background details in which our interaction is played, sometimes pushed... sometimes pulled... always deepened.

There is just something that calls us to put images on paper, to capture what our senses are creating. Every one is inspired to be an artist, some succeed... some need a few hints... some quit in frustration. This book is so "user friendly." As a reader, you are invited on a journey with David as he learns how to "see" the images he wants to portray on paper.

I adored that David's journey begins with purchasing a used book that would give him details about drawing sports cars (every librarian knows that these "how-to" drawing books are always checked out). My favorite tip was in the initial sketching, keeping my lines "light." Every artist must "tweak" their drawing as they are creating, it isn't in the "mistakes" that ruins a drawing... it's in the darkness of the sketch (of course shading and coloring can cover many changes). Just keep detailing!

The graphic portrayal is an outstanding aspect for teaching those artists that don't get the details from large portions of text. The examples of David's trials/errors are timed in a way that gives the reader an interactive chance to recreate the drawing lessons that David is learning.

Every classroom, library shelf, and artist in the making needs this resource,
"Learning a trade very often involves seeking a mentor,
and when it comes to learning how to draw,
having a good mentor can make all the difference."
A must read for every artist... get it in their hands!
Meet the Author:
Photo of Mark Crilley  I had to draw pictures for a living or I’d go crazy . . .I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to be an author or illustrator until I was 28 years old! I taught English in Taiwan and Japan for five years—and seriously considered spending the rest of my life overseas—before finally realizing I had to draw pictures for a living or I’d go crazy. At first I was writing mainly just to give myself something to illustrate. Only recently have I come to see myself as a ‘real’ author.

Ever since I discovered that there were people out there willing to pay me to make up stories and draw strange creatures all day, I knew there was no turning back. “This,” I thought, “is the job for me.” And I still think that, every day.

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."
Penguin Random House

Pumpkin Patch Blessings by Kim Washburn

Kim Washburn
Publisher's Synopsis:
Celebrate fall with Pumpkin Patch Blessings by Kim Washburn and Jacqueline East. The sweet rhyming text by Kim Washburn and whimsical illustrations by Jacqueline East bring autumn alive for readers young and old as they take in the fun of the fall season and remember how much they have to be grateful for.

MrsK's Review:
Filled with delightful Autumn creatures, this journey for children will bring a sense of joy, exploration, and loving awareness for the amazing designs from our creator. The children within the story are playfully spirited while each page portrays the beauty of the season. Our youngest gets so excited with the surprises from each page. We are joyfully anticipating his fall experiences outside, as well as on our laps as we revisit this delightful story.

A must add to every little one's story time,

Beyond enjoyable, interactive, and simply delightful.
Meet the Author:
Kim Washburn began her career in Christian publishing with Focus on the Family. While she worked on their Clubhouse Jr. magazine, two of her original stories were recognized by the Evangelical Press Association, including first place in the fiction category in 2006. Currently Kim stays home - and stays on her toes - with her eleven-year-old daughter and nine-year-old twin sons.

Meet the Illustrator:
Jacqueline East has been illustrating children's books for many years. She has worked above a chocolate factory, from a caravan by the sea, and now works from home near a city farm with her faithful dog curled up near her feet. She has illustrated books that have been published across the globe, and when asked what her inspiration is, she says, "everything!"


Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Newsmakers by Lis Wiehl

The Newsmakers (Newsmakers #1)
ISBN: 9780718037673
Publisher's Synopsis:
Television reporter Erica Sparks has just landed her dream job at Global News Network. Beautiful, talented, and ambitious, Erica grew up dirt poor, worked her way through Yale, and is carrying a terrible secret. She moves to Manhattan to join GNN, leaving Jenny, her adored 7-year-old daughter, in the custody of her ex-husband. Erica’s producer at the network, Greg Underwood, is handsome and compelling. Scarred by her divorce, Erica is wary of romance, but there’s no denying the mutual attraction.

On one of her first assignments, Erica witnesses a horrific Staten Island ferry crash. Then she lands a coveted interview with presumptive presidential nominee Kay Barrish. During the interview Barrish collapses. Erica valiantly tries to save her with CPR. The footage rivets the world—GNN’s ratings soar and Erica is now a household name.

But she’s troubled. What a strange coincidence that both events should happen on her watch. It’s almost as if they were engineered. Is that possible?

Erica’s relentless pursuit of the truth puts her life and that of her daughter in danger. Her investigation leads her into the heart of darkness—where the future of our democracy is at stake.

MrsK's Review:
For Erica, it's her first day on her new job at Global News Network. With a "pinch-me" excitement she is ready to go and find that one perfect story. Beginning again is never easy, but with sobriety all things are possible. What should have been a simple story, Erica becomes entangled in a cyber-chase. She must unravel the destruction that took place at Staten Island. Was the ferry's computer hacked? Who would gain from such an unthinkable plot? Can GNN's IT man, Mark Benton, pin-point the cyber-terrorist? She needs an associate to guide her leads, can she trust Greg?
What kind of sick-o is out of control?
"GNN is not a safe place."

Nylan, is looking for a new face that will "transform" Global and stop the bleeding of his finances. He is a man that doesn't like any disappointments, inadequacies, or challengers. Erica is a perfect choice. With good looks and an ability to think on-the-spot, she is proving that as an anchor for her own show, millions will pour in.

Intrigue is an "inadequate" term for this fast-paced thriller. Characters are portrayed with so many facets that their personalities "eek" with intensity. This thriller takes so many turns that every chapter leads you towards another dead body. With an irresistible blend of instability and courage you will be wanting another Erica news story.

You will not be disappointed, there is no passiveness with this book!
"...after my suspicions were aroused, I had denial.
Evil on this scale is hard to grasp."
Amazing read
Added to my shelf
Meet the Author:
Lis Wiehl  Lis Wiehl is the author "Face of Betrayal," a New York Times Best Seller.
She has also written "Winning Every Time: How to Use the Skills of a Lawyer in the Trials of Your Life" and "The 51% Minority: How Women Still Are Not Equal and What You Can Do About It."
In addition to her written work, Wiehl is currently a legal analyst for Fox News. She has been with the network since 2001.
A graduate of Harvard Law School, Wiehl is an adjunct professor at New York Law School.
Learn more about Lis' books...

"I received this book for free from the Fiction Guild for this review."
Thomas Nelson

MrsK's Reading Bio

Reading is important! No questions asked, not even a blink of the eye from any student I grew up with. On the first day of the First grade, we were given our first books. Day two we all read aloud, round robin of course. Day three we were place in our first basal, now known as a lit circle group. Books were so important, publishers designed new curriculum so that every student was reading by the end of the first week. These early readers had images that looked like what we could see in the classroom, beyond the classroom, even on the big screen. Reading is important, throughout history every generation has believed that “Reading” opens up the world for endless possibilities.

I adore the 1950’s Dick and Jane books. Actually, most reading specialists and experienced (45+) educators believe that every student learned to read with Dick and Jane. Since these books are being re-issued, I have heard many parents, grandparents, and students claim that Dick and Jane stories of repetition does teach students to read.

Early influences from my mother influenced my desire to read. I would watch her read and we would go on “secret” excursions to the library. The library became my playground. I owned every book I could carry home, of course they needed to be taken back to their home after visiting with me for a week or two. My first book that I could pull off of the library shelf and read was, Father Bear Comes Home. I only saw my dad on Sundays for a few hours. I would pull this beginning reader off of the library shelf every week. Every week I would try to read the first chapter. Every week I got further in the story. My mom would let me check it out, only if I could read it myself (She didn’t like the illustrations therefore she didn’t want to take time to read it to me). One day, I pulled the book from the shelf and when mom came to get me from the children’s corner, I realized that I had read the whole story. I ran to the check out desk and the Librarian KERCHUNKED the checkout card. My mother, brother and neighbors read. My teachers read. We all read aloud all day long in school. The Priest read aloud every day at mass, even in Latin. Everybody in the Doctor’s office read. People on the bus read. Dad’s waiting in their cars as the Mom’s and children grocery shopped, read. In fact, once you could read and write, Sunset Magazine considered you a reader and sent you mail every day.

Reading is important; I’ve spent my life reading. I’ve traveled around the world and into space through books. My favorite genre is whichever book I have open at the time. Children’s Literature is my passion. Book clubbing is one of the best past times, especially if food is involved. In fact my friends of old are in a book club and we are about to embark on a beach trip to “read” and discuss our newest selection.

My “home-run” book story has helped every student find his or her own “home-run” reads. Every year, I have shared my, Father Bear Comes Home, and every year my students have brought in their “home-run” books. That’s the “diving board” into our Lit. Studies.

In “Growing Up Digital,” Tapscott’s insights into the new generations enthusiasm for the Net reminded me of my generation’s enthusiasm for reading, movies, TV, parties and our driving permits. The Net-Generation, as Tapscott describes, “are learning, playing, communicating, working, creating communities, and enforcing a social transformation.”
N-Geners are interactive “techies” who are always looking for a way to “work it” verses the TV Generation of “Baby Boomers” who started out looking for “how it works.” Reading development is tougher today, society moves too fast to invest their “non-working” free time into a book or even “home work.” Since I stepped into my own classroom, I have seen students being told to read, being forced to read, and threatened into reading. Homework is not any longer the vehicle for students to gain their future lifestyles or careers with. Yet, the Internet does create an enthusiasm for learning. Since I have been enrolled in these courses, I have used the computers in every subject. My students are using the newest technology in the classroom because I am giving them investigative sites to use as they learn from each other and books. I agree with Tapscott, in order to bridge the gap with this up and coming generation we must “live and learn with them.”

FTC Required Disclaimer: I receive these books from the publishers. I did not receive monetary compensation for these reviews. These reviews have been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at


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