Emma and Snowbell
Advance Reader Copy , Children's / December 15, 2013

Emma and Snowbell. 2013. 28 pages. Sweet Lemon Books. [Source: ARC provided courtesy of StoryCartel.] In a nutshell, this book is just in time for the holiday season, and if you have a child who loves to sing, this will be great family fun! Emma and Snowbell is a simple story about a girl and her reindeer. She’s stuck in the snow, and without a sled to get around, she picks a live ride instead. They soar throughout town, having fun with her classmates along the way. The book can be read, but is best when sung to the tune of “Jingle Bells.”

Moon Girl
Advance Reader Copy , Children's / December 13, 2013

Moon Girl. Beatrix Tambunan. 2012. 31 pages. [Source: ARC provided courtesy of StoryCartel.] Moon Girl follows a young girl whose primary focus in life is lighting up the Earth’s moon alongside her older sister Sun Girl, who lights up the sun. She lives in her sister’s shadow and begins questioning her place in the world, her acceptance from others and her self-worth. Eventually, she leaves to find a place where she can be truly appreciated and valued for what she has to offer. At its core, Moon Girl is a story about self esteem and self-worth in the face of difference. It examines how people view themselves in their world and helps you understand that you have unique place in the world that can only be filled by you. It also helps you reflect on how important it is to show appreciation for someone’s contributions, even though they may not see it themselves.

Mile High

Mile High. Sally Clements. 2013. 87 pages. [Source: ARC provided courtesy of NetGalley.] Mile High is a shorter romance novel that recounts the courtship of rich, handsome “Kill,” and Cori, a financial advisor. Their first meeting is physically charged, as Cori coaches Kill through his first flight after a traumatizing accident he experienced five years earlier. It’s even more charged once the two realize and act on their attractions to one another. As luck would have it, the two are bound for the same Mediterranean island, although for strikingly different purposes. Cori is trying to relax away the effects of a terrible relationship and Kill is there to keep his sister from making what he considers to be the biggest mistake of her life. This gives them ample opportunity to explore their attraction further, but the two still struggle to choose how far it will actually go.

It’s a Firefly Night
Advance Reader Copy , Children's / November 4, 2013

It’s a Firefly Night. Dianne Ochiltree, Betsy Snyder, art. 2013.  32 pages. Blue Apple Books. [Source: ARC provided courtesy of Edelweiss] My reading partner is a kindergartner, and we loved this book! The poem was simple enough to for her understand but the message behind the poem was enough to keep me interested, too. The most compelling aspect of this book really lies in the illustrations. They’re just beautiful. The pages depict open fields with flowers under moonlight, and of course, bright fireflies. They are crisp and colorful and really get across the sentiments of summer.

The Secret and the Flame

The Secret and the Flame. J. Hopfinger. 2013. Amazon Digital Services. 308 pages. [Source: ARC provided couresty of author] The Secret and the Flame is a contemporary romance that details the relationship between Emma Delaney, a PhD candidate at Northwestern University, and Dylan O’Shea, a Chicago firefighter. The book follows their initial meeting when Dylan rescues her from an apartment fire to their experiences as roommates and, eventually, lovers. Some of the other people who factor largely in their livesare Jeremy, Emma’s skeevy and meddlesome ex-boyfriend, and Mary, Dylan’s well-read mother who happens to work at Northwestern and has as penchant for Irish writers. Overall, I found the book an easy read. It was interesting from the outset and the plot kept a fairly steady pace. When you start off the book with a fire that destroys the main character’s life, it can be difficult to keep a reader engaged as life settles back to normal. The Secret and the Flame is technically sound, which I expected once I learned the author is a graduate of Northwestern’s journalism program. This is definitely a strong effort for Hopfinger’s debut novel.