Monday, January 31, 2022

Winter Reading 2022 Never Been Kissed


Many people have regrets about their romantic history and reflecting on the one(s) that got away usually features prominently in those regrets. Wren is in that emotional neighborhood on his birthday. He is approaching finals week of his last semester in college, has a few too many drinks while out celebrating with his friends, and gets a bit nostalgic about his former crushes. He rashly sends out emails to his top four might-have-beens, then awakens in the morning to regret the decision. The results of his rash decision quickly come home to roost when his high school crush lands a summer internship at the drive-in theater where Wren is assistant manager. 

The story of their summer involves mix-ups at the ticket booth, home renovations for a crotchety old lady, playlists, reminiscing about their teenage friendship, waffles, and an appeal to the Historic Review Board. In the midst of all the spackling, painting, popcorn, and social media campaign, Wren and Derrick try to work out the nature of their relationship. It doesn't help that their memories of their almost-date don't quite agree. 

Wren may be a bit of a mess in the romance department, but he is a whiz at anything related to movies and television. The book is littered with references to films from across the decades. He compares his situation to a "boy stuffing chocolates into his mouth as the conveyor belt of his love life speeds up and out of control." When his roommates surprise him, he wonders "Maybe I did hit my head while running from a twister, and this is my sepia-toned reality now." And, as he considers how frightening a committed relationship is, he thinks "Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan should've warned me about that."

(from the back cover) "A feel-good summer LGBTQIA+ New Adult rom-com, perfect for fans of Red, White & Royal Blue, Boyfriend Material, and What If It's Us." This first book in the "Boy Meets Boy" series has a scheduled release date of May 3, 2022 - in time to be a favorite beach read.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Finding Family Treasure Virtual Book Tour


Finding Family Treasure: Book Giveaway


Enter for a chance to win a copy of Finding Family Treasure, along with a 1-hour genealogy consultation!

One (1) grand prize winner receives:

An autographed copy of Finding Family Treasure

A 1-hour genealogy consultation with Kathryn Knight, a genetic genealogist, and co-author of this book. Knight will provide guidance to establish a genealogy line for the recipient’s family, tailoring it to their needs.

Four (4) winners receive:

An autographed copy of Finding Family Treasure


 Finding Family Treasure

Written by K. I. Knight and Jane R. Wood

Ages 7 and Up | 142 Pages

Publisher: Melting Pot Press LLC | ISBN-13: 9781737337102

Publisher’s Synopsis: “Who are we?” Ms. Johansson asks her class of fifth graders. Her perplexed students soon discover the lesson she wants them to learn. While studying the founding of their country, the class is challenged to understand the melting pot that makes up the American people-both past and present.

With the help of a genealogist, students learn to navigate websites that introduce them to written records that have documented their families’ histories. Because the class is comprised of students with roots to many nationalities and ethnic groups, including African American, Native American, Mexican, Cuban, Irish, Italian, Polish, Scandinavian, Lebanese, and Japanese immigrants, the diversity in their own class becomes apparent.

To assist in their research, the teacher gives the students an assignment of interviewing their parents and grandparents, to learn more about the members of their families. One by one, the young people hear family stories connecting them to America’s earliest immigrants and settlers. The students also learn about historical events their ancestors witnessed or experienced, including the early settlement of Virginia, the American Revolution, the Underground Railroad, the Trail of Tears, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, early immigration processing at Ellis Island, the Tuskegee Airmen, and the Holocaust.

As the story unfolds, some personal conflicts occur among the students, long-standing family tensions surface, and intergenerational relationships evolve. Complex issues such as privacy, adoption, diversity, immigration, slavery, and antisemitism are addressed in an age-appropriate manner.

Excited by what they have discovered, the students plan a program to share their findings with their families. Working together in small groups, they create a slide presentation of vintage photographs, a fashion show demonstrating various ethnic attire, music and food from different cultures, and visual displays showcasing military medals, artifacts, musical instruments, and family heirlooms.

Their family history project further inspires the students to want to do something more to honor past generations. With the help of a cemetery preservationist, they plan a clean-up day at a local graveyard in need of attention. Parents, grandparents, brothers, and sisters join the class on a Saturday to help restore the final resting place of those who came before them.

As a result of their research project, the students not only discover personal connections to the past but also, in some cases, to each other.


School projects, when the teacher plans them well and provides guidance and support along the way, can be incredibly meaningful and useful to students. A project may pull together lessons already completed in class and synthesize the learning. Or it might go even further and forge personal connections between the students and the material. Sometimes a project will bring a small group or even the whole class together as the students work on the assignment. The best projects do all of that and more.

The family history project in Finding Family Treasure is one of the latter sort. The teacher enlists the help of a genealogist to shepherd the class through their research into their personal histories. Students learn to use online databases to search through census, military, and other sorts of records to find clues to their family heritage. Students who are seen as outsiders or oddballs at the beginning of the school year come to be accepted as they share their progress, showing what they have in common with the rest of the class.

The students working on the project take the time to talk with their family members, look through old photos and documents, and even reconnect with relatives they haven't seen in years or have never met. Readers will learn about American history themselves as they follow the class through their efforts - and may even be inspired to find out more about their own family's past. This is a book to recommend to middle grade readers who are interested in history or in stories that take place in a school setting.





Kathryn Knight, who uses the pen name K I Knight, is an international award-winning Author, Genetic Genealogist, American Historian, Keynote Speaker, and Cemetery Preservationist. Over the

last thirteen years, Knight has documented more than 20,000 hours researching the first recorded Africans to arrive in the English settlement of Virginia in 1619. Her passion is unrivaled and strongly evident in her published writings.

Her literary work includes Fate & Freedom, a five star – Gold medal historical trilogy detailing the lives of the 1619 Africans, as well as her nonfiction work, Unveiled – The Twenty and Odd, for which she was awarded the Phillis Wheatley Literary Award by the Sons and Daughters of the US Middle Passage.

Knight is a board member for several National Non-profit organizations and the member of numerous Genealogy, Historical and Literary Societies including the Afro American Historical and Genealogical Society, Florida State Genealogy Society, Virginia Genealogy Society, Virginia Historical Society, Florida Historical Society, American Historical Association, Genealogy Speakers Guild, Association of Professional Genealogists, the Alliance of Independent Authors, the National Association of Professional Women, and the Director of 1619 Genealogy. The mother of three adult children, Knight, lives in North Florida with her husband, Tom.

For more information, visit

Jane R. Wood is the author of five award-winning juvenile fiction books where she weaves history and science into stories filled with mystery, adventure, and humor for young readers ages 8-14. Students like her books because they’re fun. Teachers like them for their educational value. Wood is a former teacher, newspaper reporter, and television producer. She has a BA from the University of Florida and an MEd from the University of North Florida. Wood lives in Jacksonville, Florida, and is the mother of two grown sons and five grandchildren.

To learn more about her and her books, go to her website at


Tuesday, January 25, 2022

The Children’s Book Review

Virtual Book Tour Kick-Off

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Shooting Stars Mag

A book review of

Finding Family Treasure

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Writer with Wanderlust

A guest article by K.I. Knight and Jane Wood

The Importance of Learning About Family History For Kids

Friday, January 28, 2022

Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

A guest article by K.I. Knight and Jane Wood

Discussing Diversity and Family in the Classroom

Monday, January 31, 2022

The Fairview Review

A book review of

Finding Family Treasure

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

The Momma Spot

A book review of

Finding Family Treasure

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Heart to Heart

An author interview with

K.I. Knight and Jane Wood

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Lisa’s Reading

A book review of

Finding Family Treasure

Friday, February 4, 2022

Crafty Moms Share

A book review of

Finding Family Treasure

Monday, February 7, 2022

A Dream Within A Dream

A book review of

Finding Family Treasure

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

icefairy’s Treasure Chest

A guest article by K.I. Knight and Jane Wood

How Family Stories Connect Us

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Me Two Books

A book review of

Finding Family Treasure

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Because I Said So

A book review of

Finding Family Treasure

The Fairview Review is participating in the virtual tour in partnership with The Children’s Book Review, K. I. Knight, and Jane R. Wood.

Winter Reading 2022 At the End of Everything


In a situation too close to current events for comfort the teens at a residential treatment facility find themselves abandoned and cut off from help, supplies, or adult supervision. Hope Juvenile Treatment Center is actually a place that offers no hope to its residents. They have been failed by all the support systems that should help at-risk youth and been sentenced to Hope. They deal with a pecking order among the other teens, apathy or brutality from the guards, unappetizing food, and useless therapy sessions. When an infection begins spreading wildly outside the center, the workers go home and leave the kids to fend for themselves.

We can easily recognize some of the situations that the characters encounter - breakdown of services, supply chain issues, lock down/shelter in place orders, fear of infection, worry over the safety of friends and family. The characters do what the world at large has done over the last few years - some break down, some try to run away, some step up and take charge, some take on roles for the general good (healthcare, food service, etc.), and some try to work for their own advantage. 

The story is told through the experiences and observations of three of the characters, a few documents found on the center's computers, and transcripts of phone calls made by the teens to loved ones outside. The life they led prior to Hope influences how they each see and respond to the situations that arise. The friendships and alliances that were formed when they first arrived at Hope change with the circumstances and as they learn the strengths and weaknesses of those around them.

A content warning is included in the book and should be taken into consideration when recommending this book to readers. "This book deals with ableism, abuse, death, illness and implied eugenics, imprisonment, and transphobia. In addition, it includes mentions of assault, blood, gunshots, racial profiling and (sexual) violence." This title is intended for YA readers 14+.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Winter Reading 2022 The Unplanned Life of Josie Hale


Fans of romantic comedies should have a wonderful time with this book; it has laugh-out-loud moments throughout the story. Josie is living with her parents while in the middle of a divorce and suddenly discovers she is pregnant with her soon-to-be-ex's child. What does she do? Head to the fair for a corn dog because after that "she'd be able to think more clearly. Deep-fried food made everything better. It was science." Whether it is clear thinking or not, she runs into her high school friends, Ben and Kevin, and agrees to become the third roommate in the house they are sharing.

A "Three's Company" scenario leads to all sorts of hilarity and occasionally good advice being shared. Between debates on who ate the last of the Bagel Bites, dealing with weekend visitation of Ben's daughter Izzy, and trying to find money to pay the bills, these three pals support each other in their efforts to get their lives together.

There are stressful moments, but those are to be expected when the story deals with divorce, child custody, and the upcoming wedding of a brother who can do no wrong. The overall flow of the book keeps the ups and downs in a balance that moves the action forward and keeps it believable. Josie states what any of us might feel on a bad day, "As much as she tried to make things better, she still felt as if she was running a marathon in molasses."

For those who yearn to see someone trying to become a successful adult before hitting the age of 30, or as Josie puts it "to roundhouse kick her life into submission," this story hits just the right notes of real life and happily-ever-afters.

Winter Reading 2022 Voices in the Snow


If you enjoy creepy, atmospheric suspense, then you need to check out Voices in the Snow. This book has all the things that make mystery and horror work: an unknown threat quickly shutting down communications, out of control weather making it difficult to reach safety, a car crash, waking up in an empty house in the care of a stranger, mysterious figures in the just keeps getting creepier and creepier. 

The protagonist Claire is on the way to her sister's house when her car hits a tree. She awakens in a rambling house with a man named Dorran who claims he rescued her from the wreck. They are trapped in the house by a blizzard with no power, no phones, and dwindling supplies. The house is supposedly empty, but Claire keeps hearing noises and seeing figures in the shadows whenever Dorran leaves her alone. He assures her that the tension of the situation is making her paranoid, but the feeling grows that they are not alone. 

Readers will begin to wonder just as Claire does - is Dorran telling the truth? Is it just paranoia? Are there others in the house and he is lying? Are they really there and he truly doesn't know? The huge house isolated in the forest seems like something from a Gothic novel; Claire even wonders if she is "living in a real-life recreation" of Jane Eyre

This is a novel that does a great job of piling on the suspense. The break in Claire's memories as she struggles to remember what caused the car crash leaves the reader confused, too. When she does begin to recall details it only adds to the mystery. Why was she heading to her sister's house? What is causing the blackout of communication with areas all around the world and the strange weather patterns? What are the figures she keeps seeing in the house (if they do exist)?

Fans of trapped in the snow with a stranger stories like Misery, Gothic novels with possibly haunted mansions, or tales of survival against weather gone wild should dive into this first book in the Black Winter series.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Winter Reading 2022 Love or Liberty

The story of Jim Cobb, Navy pilot, takes readers into the 1960s with all its highs and lows. As can be seen on the cover, a rocket named Liberty figures prominently in the narrative, and so do the concepts of love and liberty. Jim's career path takes him from flying jets for the Navy to astronaut training at NASA in a special operations unit. He sees it all as a way to serve his country, stop the spread of communism, and perhaps get a little justice for the father he lost in the Korean War. His wife Joann is searching for something meaningful to do with her time, preferably something where she can work as a writer. As Jim spends more time away from home, Joann becomes involved in student protests over the draft. Will their paths pull their relationship apart, or can they find a way to save their marriage and democracy at the same time?

Author Bobby Mehdwan mixes so many facts into the story that it feels like reading a nonfiction account of an historical figure rather than a fictional character. Readers will be plunged into the Cuban Missile Crisis, planning for NASA missions during the Space Race, U2 flights, draft card burning, protest marches, the March on Washington, and Kennedy's assassination. The competing ideologies within the United States also seem to come to a head within the Cobb household as Jim and Joann each try to do what they feel is best. Jim wants to make sure the future does not include Soviet missile bases on the moon. Joann wants to end U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War and the loss of more lives. The beautiful women looking to hook up with future astronauts and the charismatic members of the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) offer temptation to stray, putting even more pressure on their strained marriage.

This book is a mix of suspense/thriller with plenty of cliffhanger moments (fighting to control damaged aircraft, bomb scares during protest rallies, car crashes, flashbacks to combat experiences), and the story of a couple trying to hold onto each other without losing themselves. As an aeronautics enthusiast, I especially enjoyed the flight scenes and the technical details of the work done by all the NASA staff - designing the lunar lander, checking flight trajectories, training in the Vomit Comet, etc. 

Recommended for those who enjoy romance mixed in with tense action. 

I read a copy provided by the author for review purposes.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Winter Reading 2022 Born Hungry: Julia Child Becomes "the French Chef"


"No one is born a great cook, one learns by doing." What a wonderful way to start off the story of Julia Child and her journey to becoming one of the most well-known chefs in the world. This delightful picture book biography begins with Julia's childhood growing up in a house with a cook, so that she "didn't see the point" in learning to prepare meals herself. Young readers will probably laugh out loud to learn that Julia's first recipe was for shark repellant. Her love of French cuisine shows in the look on her face as she takes a bite with her eyes closed and says, "Yum!" Another spread shows her drfiting off to sleep as visions of butter, mushrooms, and other ingredients fill the room around her.

Illustrations show Julia's delight in food throughout her life - peeking into the family kitchen to watch the cook at work, sniffing fruit at the market in Ceylon, as well as the Cordon Bleu lessons and the successful dishes she makes. Quotes from Julia herself are worked into the pages, including advice from her own teacher, Chef Bugnard. Back matter includes an author's note (Julia's grandnephew); archival photos of Julia; a list of books, TV shows, podcasts, websites, and exhibits to discover "The Essential Julia;" and Julia's recipe for scrambled eggs.

A fun book to recommend to readers who are always exploring the cookbook section or talking about their favorite Food Network shows. I read an advance copy provided by the publisher for review purposes.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Winter Reading 2022 Tiger Honor (Thousand Worlds, #2)

Students in my school love all the books from Rick Riordan Presents and Dragon Pearl is among their favorites, so I was pleased to see the second book of the series. The mix of Korean mythology and science fiction creates an intriguing setting. There are spaceships and advanced weapons alongside characters carrying swords and training in martial arts. In the midst of all this, Sebin ( a young member of the Juhwang Clan), has eagerly awaited an acceptance letter to become a cadet in the Thousand World Space Forces, but when Sebin reports for duty everything goes wrong. There seem to be saboteurs or rebels on board the ship - explosions, crew cut off, Sebin and the other new cadets are on their own. What does honor demand of Sebin? Is duty to family or to the fleet more important?

Today's young readers have grown up on Star Wars and other space adventures, so running battles through the passageways of a starship or the use of mental or even mystical powers are not uncommon. But the idea of participants in those battles being able to turn into tigers or other forms is a refreshing addition to the possibilities of what can be expected. Although much of the plot centers around Sebin's family and experiences, the other cadets make it more of an ensemble story with each using their own abilities to cope with the emergency and learning to trust one other. 

The extraordinary powers and group dynamics may remind readers of Harry Potter or Percy Jackson and their adventures with classmates and friends. As with other books from the imprint, the rich cultural background that is being worked into this series adds layers of meaning and nuance to the reading experience. The ending resolves some of the conflicts within the book, but the larger scene of the Thousand Worlds and the fabled Dragon Pearl still leave many future adventures possible for these characters and their universe.

I read a copy provided by the publisher for review purposes.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Winter Reading 2022 Sydney & Taylor and the Great Friend Expedition

 If you haven't already met Sydney and Taylor, then you are missing out. These two wonderful friends have already explored the whole wide world (or at least quite a bit for such small creatures), and they have taken a flying leap (Taylor did, anyway). Now Taylor, who is rather intrepid for a hedgehog, has decided that the two of them should go out and make friends. When Sydney points out that they are already friends with each other, Taylor does not let that slow him down. 

Taylor definitely gets Big Ideas (like wanting to be the world's first flying hedgehog), but Sydney is content with the way things are. He also feels that other animals probably don't like them because "You're prickly and I stink!" as he explains to Taylor. But since he is such a good friend, he is willing to leave their burrow and help Taylor make new friends.

This might be a good story to use at the beginning of a school year or after a move to a new neighborhood. The dynamic duo have read books and know that to make friends you can use several strategies - which would also work well for young readers to try. Making pleasant conversation and paying sincere compliments are two of the methods Sydney and Taylor try out. 

I've said it before, but it bears repeating: this series is perfect for kiddos who enjoy friendship stories like Frog and Toad or Elephant and Piggie, as well as readers making the transition from picture books to early chapter books.

Publication date is set for February 22, so there isn't too long to wait. I read a review copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Winter Reading 2022 Under Lock and Skeleton Key


Tempest Raj is a famous magician. She headlines her own show in Vegas and dazzles the crowds until the night that a trick goes wrong and Tempest is blamed for a fire on stage. She comes back to her family home to put her life back together away from the media and the fans. When her father invites her to visit the home where his crew is doing some specialized construction, no one expects to find a dead body hidden within the walls of the house, or that it would be Tempest's stage double. Can things get any worse?

If you like mysteries with plenty of misdirection (like good stage magic), then you should read Under Lock & Skeleton Key. There are secret passages, hidden doors, jealous rivals, obsessed stalkers, a family curse, former friends, a pet rabbit (every magician needs a bunny, right?), lots of delicious homecooked food, ghostly apparitions, a possible romance, eccentric relatives and more. Several of the characters are fans of mystery books like Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden, and of classic magicians like Harry Houdini and Adelaide Herrmann. 

In a way Tempest is a typical twenty-something who is still dealing with the loss of her mother, the breakdown of other relationships as she focused on her grief, and the awkwardness of reconnecting with old friends and the return to her childhood home. But she is also a skilled illusionist, steeped in stagecraft and sleight of hand, and grimly determined to figure out what is going on. With some magic, some mystery, and a few helping hands, perhaps Tempest can bring down the curtain on this mystery and claim a fresh start for herself.

Publication date is set for March 15, so this might be your beach read for spring break. I read a review copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Winter Reading 2022 The Wolves of Yellowstone


Beautiful watercolor illustrations bring the national park at Yellowstone and all its inhabitants to life in this fascinating look at the reintroduction of wolves to the ecosystem of the park. The text explains how the last wolf was shot in 1926 and the impact of the wolves' absence on the elk herds. Then the efforts to bring wolves back are described - with illustrations of the capture, transportation, and release of the new wolves. Scenes show elk grazing, wolves hunting, the return of plants and trees as they are no longer eaten by the enormous number of elk, and other positive outcomes. 

This book would be wonderful to include in a unit on food webs, ecosystems, and keystone species. Students can see how the removal of one species affects everything else in the area. How many of them would ever imagine that taking away the wolves would lead to over browsing by the elks, and that loss of vegetation would lead to a change in the course of the rivers themselves? The explanations are easy to follow and the illustrations make everything visually compelling.

Back matter includes details of the original fourteen wolves that began the repopulation of the species in Yellowstone, including which pack they were a part of and how long they survived in the park. There are also profiles of several other animals from around the world that conservation groups have worked to reintroduce and restore the ecosystems they were once a part of.

Planned for release on April 5, this book will be available in time for Earth Day - so mark your calendars. I read a review copy provided by the publisher through Netgalley.

Winter Reading 2022 The Best of Both Wolves (Red Wolf #2)

In her latest release Terry Spear returns to the Portland, Oregon area and the wolf pack of Cassie and Leidolf Wildhaven. This time Sierra Redding, is attending an art-teacher-training workshop and surprises a burglar in her hotel room. As a retired military officer, Sierra knows how to take of herself and confronts the burglar. That encounter leads to all sorts of complications and Sierra winds up spending a lot of quality time with one of the investigating officers, Adam Holmes. Between the ongoing clash with the robbery gang and the chemistry between the two wolves, there is plenty of action to keep the story moving along at a nice pace. 

Although this story can be read as a stand-alone, there are recurring characters from other books in Spear's werewolf series. Besides Cassie and Leidolf (Seduced by the Wolf), there are Adam's former partner Josh Wilding and Josh's mate Brooke (Joy to the Wolves) to name a few. Another part of the appeal is that Sierra is not a shrinking violet; with her military training and her affiliation with the police department, she is an active part of the investigation and her own protection.

If you like shape shifter romances, or know someone who does, then check out the book when it is released on Janaury 25. I read a review copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley.