Monday, July 22, 2019

"Someday We Will Fly" by Rachel DeWoskin is a Must Read for Fans of Historical Fiction (Review)

Disclosure:  I was sent a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All views shared are mine and mine alone.

(Also available in paperback, Audiobook and Kindle formats)


This is the first summer we took off from homeschooling to really enjoy the summer break and time together.  It also let my girls do what they love most -- read!  They usually read an hour a day for our homeschooling, books that pertain to topics and lessons we are learning about. But, with the summer break, the girls were able to read all the books that caught their eye at the library and bookstore, as well as one they have been trying to make time for and that have been sitting on their bookshelves in their room.  Not only was this a welcoming break for the girls, but it also let me catch up on my own personal reading.  I have been adding books to a stack on my office desk that I have been looking to read for the past few months, and was hoping for some down time away from daily homeschooling with the girls to actually find time and energy to read them.  

I ended up reading all ten books that were sitting on my desk in a month's time, and found myself looking for new books to check out.  Thankfully, I had a few books arrive in the mail from publishers I work with for my blog, and they caught my eye, and have been providing enjoyable reading at the beach and at home lounging on the couch.  One book I recently picked up and had a hard time putting down was "Someday We Will Fly" by Rachel DeWoskin.  Here is more about this book, which is considered a YA novel, but will be well received by adults who like me, enjoy historical prose.

About the Book:

"From the author of Blind, a heart-wrenching coming-of-age story set during World War II in Shanghai, one of the only places Jews without visas could find refuge.

Warsaw, Poland. The year is 1940 and Lillia is fifteen when her mother, Alenka, disappears and her father flees with Lillia and her younger sister, Naomi, to Shanghai, one of the few places that will accept Jews without visas. There they struggle to make a life; they have no money, there is little work, no decent place to live, a culture that doesn't understand them. And always the worry about Alenka. How will she find them? Is she still alive? 

Meanwhile Lillia is growing up, trying to care for Naomi, whose development is frighteningly slow, in part from malnourishment. Lillia finds an outlet for her artistic talent by making puppets, remembering the happy days in Warsaw when her family was circus performers. She attends school sporadically, makes friends with Wei, a Chinese boy, and finds work as a performer at a "gentlemen's club" without her father's knowledge.

But meanwhile the conflict grows more intense as the Americans declare war and the Japanese force the Americans in Shanghai into camps. More bombing, more death. Can they survive, caught in the crossfire?"

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I have to say, I was not familar with this part of the Holocaust history, as it was never taught in schools, nor discussed.  But, as I started to read this book, it made more sense that there were so many Jewish families flying their homelands to find refuge in other parts of the world.  Just like their hope for safety in a new country, this is being seen in today's events about immigrants trying to find refuge in America. 

This books really does pull at your heartstrings as you read the story of Lillia, who is trying to help her family by looking out and helping to raise her little sister, Naomi, while also navigating her teen years.  It isn't until Lillia stumbles upon an outlet for her artistic talent of making puppets, that she finds some solace in her life.

The author does an amazing job at painting a picture of war and how it affects a family s as a whole, as well as children, while also showing how finding an outlet like the arts, can help a child persevere even in dangerous and uncertain times.  Like I said, once I started reading this book, I found it hard to put down. I wanted to see what would happen next and if Lillia and her family would make it through safely.  Don't worry, I will not ruin the ending.  What I will say, though, is that this YA coming of age novel is a real page turner, and worth checking out during the remaining weeks of summer.  While it is probably not on your child's required summer reading lists, it definitely is a book worth checking out and passing around to family and friends to enjoy.

Disclosure:  I was sent a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All views shared are mine and mine alone.



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Explore the "Earth's Amazing Habitats" with this New Picture Book by Mia Cassany (Review)

Disclosure:  I was sent a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All views shared are mine and mine alone.




While many parents are putting their back to school lists together for their kids, I am working on adding new books to my girls' upcoming school library, to go along with our homeschooling for the new school year.  This is one of my favorite things to do as I get to not only see all the new books available for kids, but also add new topics to our homeschool curriculum and lesson plans I have drawn up.  When I saw this new picture book by Mia Cassany in person the other day, I knew it was something I wanted to share with my girls, as they both love animals, and learning all about them including where they come from the habitats that they live in.

About this book:

"This brilliantly illustrated book takes young readers to the planet's wild regions, including forests, jungles, tundras, and deserts to discover the animals that call it home.



This captivating book brings the natural world into sharp focus. Beautifully colored and intricately detailed illustrations depict places as exotic and wide-ranging as Senegal's Niokolo-Koba National Park, Russia's Sikhote-Alin mountain range, the Sinharaja Forest Reserve in Sri Lanka, Daintree National Park in Australia, the Mexican desert, and China's bamboo forests. 


The animals that live in these remote places, cleverly hidden in the trees, plants, and flowers, create a marvelous challenge for young readers to find and identify. 


Each spread contains more than twenty different species including birds, snakes, frogs, iguanas, leopards, tigers, gorillas, pandas, and wolves. The back of the book is filled with additional information about the animals and their habitats. Young readers will find much to discover, explore, and learn in this absorbing celebration of our planet and the amazing creatures we share it with."


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What really caught my eye about this picture book, next to the stunning full-color illustrations done by Marcos Navarro, is how the book was presented.  The first two pages of the book open to show kids a sprawling 2-page map of the continents, filled with different animals that live in each area.  


This was a great starting point to share with my girls, not just to review the different continents, but to also let them choose where we begin our wilderness journey.   As we flipped through the pages, the girls couldn't help but put their hands out to have me stop on each page, as they wanted to take in all the detailing of the illustrations, and see all the different animals that seemed to be crawling all over the page.  


As I read about the different areas and animals that live there, the girls had fun pointing out the animals.  There were so many animals introduced to us that the girls had never heard of, which made this a very fascinating book to enjoy together. And, by the time we reached the end of the book, the girls were quick to flip back to the beginning, as they wanted to read through it again, and see the different animals.  


We have only had this book for about a week now, but it has become a hit with my girls, and one book they continually pull from the bookcase to read and flip through the pages to admire the illustrations of the different animals. My girls also love to sketch their own versions of the animals featured in this book, and have used their phone time to research further about some of the animals they were introduced to, to learn more about them.

If your kids love animals or learning about new things, then you will definitely want to check out this new picture book.  Both of my girls give it two thumbs up! :-)


Disclosure:  I was sent a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All views shared are mine and mine alone.



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Mark Your Calendars: In Theaters Nationwide, Fri. Aug 2!...Dove Approved Family Adventure Movie "Leo Da Vinci: Mission Mona Lisa (Review)

Disclosure: I was sent a screener link from the vendor in exchange for an honest review. All views shared are mine and mine alone.

LEO DA VINCI: MISSION MONA LISA ADVENTURES INTO THEATRES AUGUST 2, 2019



It was nice to wake up to cooler temperatures this AM.  For the past two days we were experiencing a heat wave, with temps. in the high 90's and feeling well over 105 with the heat index added in. Not only was it unhealthy to be outdoors for long, but the girls had no desire to go out even for a few minutes to get out of the house.  So, that left them with a lot of "What do we do next?," "I am bored!," etc.  Thankfully, I was sent an advance screener for a fun new family-friendly movie arriving in theaters on August 2nd called "Leo Da Vinci: Mission Mona Lisa".

I have to admit, when I first heard the title, I was curious as to what the movie would be about, as I hadnt' seen any movie trailers for it. And, when I told my girls about the movie, they both looked at each other, and then at me and said they didn't want to watch an educational movie, as they knew of Leonardo DaVinci and the famous Mona Lisa painting.  It wasn't until we all watched the trailer to this Dove-Approved movie that we all agreed that it was definitely a movie we wanted to see.  And, to be able to see it before it arrived in theaters was a treat, and really helped to break up the mini heat wave we were experiencing, when all you wanted to do was to lay around in an air conditioned room and/or watch TV or movies indoors.

We watched this movie last night while camping out in the living room for the evening.  With popcorn and a cold drink in hand, we settled in to watch this movie.  My youngest picked up on the animation and pointed out that it wasn't like you expect with most animated movies. But, as the story began, she, along with the rest of the family got reeled in and we were all hooked right up until the ending credits.  Here is more about "Leo Da Vinci: Mission Mona Lisa," which is a must see for families with kids of all ages, when it arrives in theaters on August 2nd...

"Please meet the young, genius inventor Leonardo Da Vinci and his best friends, Lorenzo and Lisa, as they embark on a wild and exciting adventure. From flying cars, treasure maps, pirates, and sailing ships, it's a family adventure everyone will love! 
In theaters August 2, 2019. 

Life is idyllic in the quiet town of Vinci. The young genius inventor, Leo da Vinci (voice of Johnny Yong Bosch), is constantly tinkering and testing his inventions while his best friends Lorenzo (voice of Bryce Papenbrook) and Lisa (voice of Cherami Leigh) help-but keep a healthy sense of humor as he shoots for the impossible.On their return from an outing to a nearby lake, the trio has a shocking surprise: Lisa’s family home has mysteriously burst into flames and to make matters worse, the odious landlord is demanding that her father repay his debts in full---or agree to have Lisa marry his despicable son.Leo has to catch his breath-he can’t lose Lisa, especially not like this


Determined to raise the money Lisa needs, Leo takes his paintings and heads with Lorenzo and Lisa to the nearest big city,Florence, to either sell them or try to get work from a local master. In the town center, they happen upon a mysterious storyteller who not only tells a tale of hidden treasure but has a one-of-a-kind treasure map that he is willing to sell. Could this be the solution to Lisa’s troubles?  


During their quest for the treasure, Lisa, Lorenzo, and Leo are helped by a little girl, Agnes (voice of Faith Graham), a fearless and resourceful street orphan, and Niccolò (voice of Landen Beattie), a little Polish boy who has taught himself all there is to know about the stars and constellations.Soon our young heroes realize that they are not the only ones on this quest-a group of sinister pirates follows their every move with the intent of stealing the treasure for themselves.Leo’s ingenious inventions, Lisa’s brilliant ideas, Lorenzo’s loyalty and Niccolò and Agnes’ clever input swirl into an exciting crescendo! 


Does the treasure exist? Will they be able to evade the pirates? Will Lisa’s father be saved? It's a racto the finish, in this story of courage, bravery, and friendship:LEO DA VINCI: MISSION MONA LISA."


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Doesn't this look like a fun movie?  It really was!  As soon as the movie was over, both of my girls were asking when we would be watching it again. This movie has a little of something for both boys and girls to enjoy, including pirates and treasure maps, flying cars, cool inventions, and so much more.  It truly is a family adventure, both kids and adults will enjoy watching together.  Even though this is not a big-named movie release, it shouldn't be overlooked at it really is a fun, must see movie for summer.  We really enjoyed it, and can't wait to watch it in theaters in August, and will definitely be buying it on DVD and Blu-Ray when it is released.

If you are looking for a wholesome family-friendly movie that you can bring the whole family to, and be entertained from start to finish, look no further than Leo Da Vinci: Mission Mona Lisa, arriving in theaters on August 2nd.  My girls woke this AM talking about the movie and sharing their favorite parts. They really liked Leo's unique inventions, and how the story had many twists and turns and humor sprinkled throughout it.  It has become one of their top summer 2019 movies, and one they will continue to talk about and recommend to friends, for some time to come.  So, be sure to mark your calendar for August 2nd, and check out Leo Da Vinci: Mission Mona Lisa when it arrives at a theater near you.  You can learn more about this movie by visiting https://www.fandango.com/leo-da-vinci-mission-mona-lisa-217523/movie-overview.




Disclosure: I was sent a screener link from the vendor in exchange for an honest review. All views shared are mine and mine alone.



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