The Way Downtown by Inna Gertsberg

cover114613-mediumThe Way Downtown by Inna Gertsberg is a wonderful book that teaches about public transport in the city. The book covers details about several aspects of public transportation; such as, tickets, trams, trolleybuses, modern light transportation trains. The illustrations are wonderful. They are simple but interesting through the transportation and maps.

Throughout the book the reader “meets” a few families as they take public transportation. A couple of the families are; the Zanies are street performers who take public transportation where they perform on the didgeridoo and juggle and Dr. Brody takes a ferry to go to work each day. The maps, explanations of the sights and sounds are useful to kids. The book even gives advice on what to do if someone gets lost. The pictures are both helpful and hilarious.

I received this ARC from NetGalley and Kids Can Press in exchange for an honest review.

Categories: book review, books, Canada, Canadian, children, Children's Nonfiction, downtown, kids, Kids Can Press, NetGalley, picture books, public transportation, transportation, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trail Blazers by Lisa Graves

22181133Trail Blazers: An Illustrated Guide to the Women Who Explored the World by Lisa Graves is a picture book full of famous women explorers. I found it interesting and educational. There’s not a great amount of information, but what’s here is enough to give a sense of these women’s accomplishments, as well as their determination, in just enough detail to whet the reader’s curiosity.

Graves introduces readers to thirteen women who were influential explorers. Each woman gets one spread with a column about their life and most famous accomplishments. Further textboxes on the spread highlight major accomplishments, places travelled, etc. Some of these women are well known names, like Nellie Bly, Amelia Earhart, and Sacagewa, others are not so well known like Ida Laura Pfeiffer, Harriet Chalmers Adams, and Gertrude Bell. They explored any time between the mid 1700s to mid 1900s, used different methods of transportation, explored different areas of the world, but all were intrepid adventurers and left their marks in society, literature, science, archeology, geography, and more.

I received an ARC from Xist Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Categories: Adventure, book review, books, children, Children's literature, Children's Nonfiction, Middle grade, NetGalley, nonfiction, picture books, travel, women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Carson Crosses Canada by Linda Bailey

31952702Carson Crosses Canada by Linda Bailey is a cute children’s book about a trip across Canada. Annie makes the journey with her dog from the Pacific to the Atlantic across Canada as they sight see. The illustrations are lively watercolors, intended to capture the spirit of the trip rather than the actual realistic landscape. The pair travels light and their tale is fun.

The story starts on one side of Canada, and ends up on the other side. Carson and his mistress are cheerful and adventurous, and they make sure to have a good time as they travel and camp their way across the country. The vibe is upbeat and energetic. Carson is a peppy sort of dog and adds a good deal of personality to the trip.

I received this ARC copy from Penguin Random House Canada and Tundra Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Categories: Adventure, animals, ARC, book review, books, Canada, children, Children's Fiction, Children's literature, dog, geography, kids, NetGalley, Penguin Random House Canada, picture books, story times, travel, Tundra Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Country Between by Stephanie Saldaña

cover90866-mediumA Country Between:Making a Home Where Both Sides of Jerusalem Collide by Stephanie Saldana is a fascinating read of places and experiences most of us will never have.

The author Stephanie, meets her to be husband Frédéric who was in his third and final year as a novitiate soon to become a monk at The Syrian desert monastery Deir Mar Musa, north of Damascus. I have not read the first part of this memoir, which I must do soon, to learn more about their relationship.
The Country Between, takes place when they move out of Syria and are trying to find out where they should live. They end up on Jerusalem’s Nablus Road, a fascinating place with a lot of history.
The author writes beautifully, and in a very lyrical way. Her descriptions of places, the people, even the view from their window, of birds and trees created wonderful pictures in my mind, ones that even though I may never go there, I will feel that I have seen.

There are a lot of messages we can take from the authors life and perceptions of it, like hope, forgiveness, strength and the beauty of life as we see it and also in its hardships.
This is a wonderful look at a family being formed, and of families being there for one another throughout ones life, and the closeness and sacrifices they endure for one another.

Thank you NetGalley  and Sourcebook (non-fiction) for the advanced readers copy in exchange for an honest review.

Categories: A Country Between, Adventure, book review, books, history, Literary Fiction, literature, memoir, NetGalley, nonfiction, refugee, Review, Sourcebooks, Stephanie Saldana, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Journey on a Runaway Train by Gertrude Chandler Warner

cover102549-mediumJourney on a Runaway Train by Gertrude Chandler Warner is the start of a five book series with the kids known as The Boxcar Children! The four Aldens are now living with their grandfather with the boxcar in the backyard when finding a painted turtle, they are soon recruited into the Reddimus Society. The Reddimus Society is a secret guild who’s mission is returning lost or stolen artifacts in which the turtle is one of them. As they learn what the society dos, a trip on a train to return the turtle to New Mexico will test the children in ways they never expected that will ultimately, lead them to their next adventure!
This version of the Boxcar Children is fresh and modern. We’re in a world of laptops, WiFi and GPS. The boys and girls are equal players, and since the books are new you don’t encounter those awkward bits of old-fashioned nonsense that you sometimes have to overlook when revisiting other older adventure series. The writing is crisp and direct and clearly aimed at younger readers. A nice touch is that the older kids often explain more advanced words, references, and historical bits to the youngest Alden, Benny, and these explanations, of course, are also intended to help younger readers follow what’s happening.
I thank NetGalley and Albert Whitman & Company for a free advanced readers copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Categories: Adventure, Albert Whitman & Company, book review, books, boxcar children, children, Children's Fiction, Children's literature, family, fiction, Gertrude Chandler Warner, history, Journey on a Runaway Train, mystery, NetGalley, Review, school, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Only Road by Alexandra Diaz

25226174The Only Road by Alexandra Diaz is an individual story of a boy who feels that leaving his home and risking everything is his only chance for a better life. It is a story of fear and bravery, love and loss, strangers becoming family, and one boy’s treacherous and life-changing journey.

In this story it is two children (12 and 15) travelling alone with only names, maps, information and money sewn into their clothes that take the treacherous journey from Guatemala to the U.S. When Angela’s brother and Jamie’s cousin Miguel is killed by the local gang because he refused to join them, the family believes the only way to keep Angela and Jamie safe is to get them away from Guatemala. Tomas, Jaimie’s brother, lives in New Mexico, so that is their destination. The journey is dangerous, but they go anyway. They meet other children on the way and they become friends. They rescue a dog, near death from the dog fights and nurse her back to life. They work sewing and drawing portraits to earn even more money to get safe passage across the border. Unfortunately, out of the small group of five children travelling together, they are the only ones to make it. We so not find out exactly what happens to the others, but from what is happening in the story, we can imagine. This journey took courage, guts, a little naivite and luck to get to their final destination. Many try and do not make it, many try multiple times, many disappear or are killed. A very hard story to read.

This book should be read by all students to help them understand the plight of refugees and immigrants. It should also give them an appreciation of what they have and how they live.

I received this book from Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Categories: book review, books, children, family, friendships, Guatemala, history, NetGalley, nonfiction, refugee, Review, Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing, South America, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

One Paris Summer by Denise Grover Swank

25669067One Paris Summer by Denise Grover Swank is about a girl name Sophie. Sophie is intelligent, kind, and passionate. She definitely has her flaws, which make her incredibly relatable. Her flaws make her relatable because everyone has been in the awkward stage of high school where you’re still so unsure of yourself.

As the story progresses, we meet Sophie’s new stepmom and stepsister. While the family tries to blend and navigate their summer together, well there’s lots of drama. One of my favorite parts about this story was how family was one of the main focuses of the book. Yes there was romance and friendships, but seeing how Sophie fixed her life within her family was always an important element throughout the story.

Sophie starts to open up more once one of her stepsister’s friends, Mathieu, lets her practice the piano at his house. Sophie is a passionate person and one of her passions is playing the piano.

There’s a lot of drama Sophie is left to deal with when it comes to Mathieu, but this bring a romantic aspect to the story. This book definitely delivers on that aspect of the story. This is a great romantic story that is perfect for teens. It is a relatable story because of the characters and their experiences.

I received this book from Zonderkidz-Books and Blink via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Categories: Adventure, Blink, book review, children, culture, fiction, love, NetGalley, Relationships, Review, Teens, travel, YA, young adult, Zonderkidz-Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Boy Who Runs: The Odyssey of Julius Achon by Julius Achon and John Brant

27876452The Boy Who Runs: The Odyssey of Julius Achon by Julius Achon, and John Brant is the story of  Julius Achon, who was born in Uganda. The story follows Julius Achon who rose from nothing.  He grew up in a small village and eventually he become a world class middle distance runner. He was able to compete in the Olympics and now he does  humanitarian work to improve life in Uganda and where ever there is a need.

The reader first learns about Achon’s childhood. The good and the bad. Throughout the beginning of the story, the reader learns early on that there is something special about Julius. Achon does not alway do the right thing, but he tries his best to do so. As he grows so does his running. Eventually he makes it to the US to train and become and Olympic running. The reader is able to follow Achon through his life. The reader sees how his choices are not always his.

The authors did his research to get to know Achon and the important people in Achon’s life. In the end, there is a hopefulness and happiness in seeing the kind of man Achon has grown into. Brant also seems to understand what it is to be a runner, based on how he describes Achon’s training regimes and how they affect him along the way. This is a book for any runner, and really anyone wanting to hear a uplifting story of a man growing out of poverty only to turn around and help those still in it.

I received this book from  Random House Publishing Group- Ballantine, and Ballantine Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Categories: Adventure, African American Literature, america, Ballantine, book review, books, culture, education, memoir, NetGalley, Random House Publishing, Review, Running, Sports, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Super Sushi Ramen Express by Michael Booth

29102648Super Sushi Ramen Express by Michael Booth is a book that gives an overview of the various food cultures and regions of Japan. This is a combination of Michael Booth moving his family to the country for several months but also some very good fixers nailing down really big interviews and meals. My favorite chapters were those about the unique elements of Japanese cuisine. It is definitely a good overview and made me think maybe I’d like to visit Japan after all. For recipes and photos, you would need a different resource.

This book is written by a journalist and it shows in his attention to detail. Michael Booth had contacts with artisanal producers of saki, tofu, and soy sauce. He was able to sort out the history of each product, how each was made, and their futures.

Much of the book ponders the question of whether or not authentic Japanese cuisine is vanishing. Booth talks with respected chefs, food critics, and Japanese gourmands. Most would say that they have seen a rapid decline in the quality of the fundamentals of Japanese cooking, particularly in how chefs make dashi. Dashi is the basis of much of Japanese food from miso soup onward.

The author also seemed very keen on finding out if the traditional Japanese diet contributed to the nation’s high life expectancy. He does a great job of sorting out myths from facts.

I received this book from the publisher via net galley.

Categories: Adventure, Asian cuisine, book review, books, cookbook, cooking, Cuisine, culture, education, Japan, Japanese cuisine, Macmillan-Picador, NetGalley, Picador, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Yellow Envelope by Kim Dinan

32671360The Yellow Envelope by Kim Dinan is a beautifully written memoir. When reading the story I felt a whole list of emotions from laughing to crying. The memoir is the story of a young couples journey across continents in the joy and pain they experiences as they struggled with major changes that changed their lives and their marriage.

Friends of the author and her husband, at their farewell party, gave them a Yellow envelope, with $1.000 in it to use in anyway they wanted but it came with 3 simple rules: Don’t overthink it; share your experiences; don’t feel pressured to give it all away.

In the beginning I was a bit irritated by her quest to find herself, as I felt she was being a bit selfish and critical, but as the story evolves you find out that that was a necessary step to her growth and in the long run, both of them were able to see their lives more clearly and to grow from it. The yellow envelope , was also a very instrumental in their transformations.  I felt as a reader, following their journey of self discovery made me think about my life and what I need to do to make it more memorable.

I received this book from the publisher via Net Galley.

Categories: Adventure, book review, books, family, history, NetGalley, nonfiction, Relationships, Review, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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