Review – From Ant to Eagle by Alex Lyttle


From Ant to Eagle by Alex Lyttle

Published April 1, 2017
Central Avenue Publishing

5 Stars !!

FROM ANT TO EAGLE is novel for children ages ten and up. The author is a pediatrician and based this novel on some of his experiences working in the pediatric oncology unit.

Calvin Sinclair is 11 years old and tells us this is a story about his brother, six-year-old, Sammy.

He wants us to know that he loved his brother. Like any other brother he picked on Sammy, but deep down of course he loved him. The second thing he wants us to know is that…

He’s the one that killed Sammy.

The summer after moving to a small town “The boonies”, Calvin and Sammy didn’t have much to do. They didn’t even have a TV. Calvin entertained himself by manipulating Sammy into doing his chores. Sammy wanted to achieve the level of Eagle that his brother had. Calvin told him he would help him but that he had to listen to him in order to earn it. Calvin was skilled at getting Sammy to do what he wanted him to do.

For example “Operation Bee Elimination”. But when the operation fails – with many battle scars, Calvin gives Sammy the thing he knows his brother wants more than anything. A level.

“After long hours of meticulously examining every detail of today’s operation, the committee has decided to award you your next level”

Nothing could make Sammy happier. Calvin started the level system two years before (basically to make Sammy do anything Calvin wanted). Starting with Ant onto beetle ,worm, snail, rabbit…

These were all for things like eating a worm, stealing food from the fridge for Calvin, or for taking the blame for things he hadn’t done. After Sammy achieved a level, Calvin wrote in a journal, signing and dating it to make it official. Of course Calvin is at the highest level of Eagle even though he’s never done anything to get it. He told Sammy it all happened before he was born and of course, Sammy believed him.

Having no one but Sammy to play with was hard for Calvin. But Sundays were the worst. Sunday mornings meant church with itchy and uncomfortable clothing. But the day Aleta and her family come to church that all changes. Suddenly, Sundays aren’t so bad. Not only was Aleta pretty, but she also read RL Stine books just like he did. When she hid the Goosebumps book in her Hymn book in Church, Calvin knew they would soon be friends. But Aleta has some secrets. She’s often quiet and sad. She tells Calvin she doesn’t want to talk about it and he respects that.

Calvin wants to spend all of his time with Aleta and it annoys him that Sammy wants to come along with them. He finds a way to keep Sammy occupied so he can spend time with Aleta. This works until his mother realizes what he’s doing. Calvin agrees to start taking Sammy with him.

But all of a sudden Sammy isn’t feeling very well. Fevers and night sweats leave him exhausted and unable to do very much.

Then a diagnosis rocks the family to the core.

This was an excellent read. Not only is it a very good story but it helps provide an understanding of things that a lot of children would normally have a hard time understanding. Words like diagnosis, treatment, prognosis and many medical terms are broken down into easy to understand examples. I learned many things myself. And while the story is very realistic, the author handles the serious issues in a very sensitive manner.

FROM ANT TO EAGLE is a well-written novel. I thought this might be a very upsetting read due to the subject matter, and I did shed quite a few tears, but this is a story about more than just illness and sadness. There’s love, family, friendship,forgiveness, hope, and much more. And while it was sad at times, there were many endearing and funny parts as well.

I believe this book would be good for a variety of readers. It does say age 10 + on my copy but I think that depends on the child who is reading it. For many children this would be fine. In other cases if a child is still too young in either age or maturity, I believe that reading this book with an adult could be an excellent way of helping to open up the lines of communication, while still reading a very good story.

An unforgettable, entertaining, and inspiring read. Alex Lyttle did an excellent job of bringing his characters to life. The powerful dynamics of friendship and love. The relationships and friendships portrayed were wonderful and heartwarming to read. Sammy and Cal are terrific characters with an incredible bond that shines throughout the story. They are characters that won’t soon be forgotten.

Thank you, Alex Lyttle for providing a physical copy of this book for me to read in exchange for my honest review.

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Goodreads Monday – Pretending to Dance

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren’s Page Turners . To take part,  simply choose a random book from your TBR and show it off.  Be sure to check out Lauren’s blog and link back to add your own links!

Today the book I’m going to show off is:

Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain 

Published – October 6, 2015

St. Martins Press

 Book description 

Molly Arnette is very good at keeping secrets. She and her husband live in San Diego, where they hope to soon adopt a baby. But the process terrifies her.

As the questions and background checks come one after another, Molly worries that the truth she’s kept hidden about her North Carolina childhood will rise to the surface and destroy not only her chance at adoption, but also her marriage. She ran away from her family twenty years ago after a shocking event left her devastated and distrustful of those she loved: her mother, the woman who raised her and who Molly says is dead but is very much alive; her birth mother, whose mysterious presence raised so many issues; and the father she adored, whose troubling death sent her running from the small community of Morrison Ridge.

Now, as she tries to find a way to make peace with her past and embrace a future filled with promise, she discovers that even she doesn’t know the truth of what happened in her family of pretenders.

Told with Diane Chamberlain’s compelling prose and gift for deft exploration of the human heart, Pretending to Dance is an exploration of family, lies, and the complexities of both.


 I have had this book on my TBR for  almost 2 years. I’m not sure why I haven’t read it yet.  I love Diane Chamberlain’s books so I am almost certain I’ll enjoy this one too. I think it’s just a case of adding new book after new book and other books getting pushed back. I’m going to make it a point to read it sometime in the next month or so. 

Have you read this book? If so, what did you think of it?





Review – The Last Place You Look (Roxane Weary #1) by Kristen Lepionka

The Last Place You Look (Roxane Weary, #1)The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka

Expected publication: June 13, 2017
Minotaur Books




My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Private investigator Roxane (one N) Weary finds things for a living.

“Objects. People. Answers. Whatever needs to be found.”

And she’s VERY good at it

She gets a call from a woman, Danielle Stockton who tells Roxane that she needs her help. Roxane asks her what she needs to find.

“The girl who can get my brother off death row.”

Danielle’s brother, Brad Stockton was convicted of murdering his girlfriend’s mother and father 15 years ago. That same night his girlfriend 17-year-old Sarah Cook disappeared. Most people believe that he also killed Sarah and that her body just hasn’t been found.

Apparently this was an open and shut case with evidence pointing directly to Brad Stockton. At the time Brad was no real help to himself. When others asked him if he thought Sarah could have done it, he refused to consider the idea even though it may have helped him with his own case.

So why is his sister looking for Roxane’s help now?

Her brother is due to be executed in just a few weeks and she will do anything she can help him. This includes spending money she doesn’t really have hiring Roxane. What’s more, Danielle believes she saw Sarah Cook recently. The sighting seems unbelievable considering there has been no other sightings in the last 15 years.

Is Danielle imagining things or is it actually possible that she saw Sarah?

Is it possible that Brad Stockton is innocent? And if he is who is the real killer?

Even Roxane thinks he’s probably guilty. But she takes the case as she needs the money. It’s been nine months since her father passed away. Frank Weary was a cop for 38 years and was killed in the line of duty. We learn more about her relationship with her father, brothers and mother. She knew her father didn’t really approve of her line of work and she often felt off-kilter in her relationship with him.

Roxane’s also having a tough time in the relationship department.

With everything going on the bottle is beginning to become too good of a friend…

Roxane has her issues but she also has determination, a big heart, and she really is damn good at what she does.

Then she starts to see some connections between Sarah Cook and a couple of other cases, one of which her father had worked on. When another local girl goes missing, Roxane becomes even more determined to figure out what is going on, even if it means putting herself in danger.

But is it too late for Brad and Danielle Stockton? And why are some people so insistent that Roxane stop hanging around and asking questions?

It took me a little while to get into the story and I had some confusion when the other cases were introduced. I found it hard keeping everyone straight. But after a while it all started to flow pretty well. The last few chapters of the book were especially intense and exciting. I felt like I was holding my breath at times.

Overall, this was a solid, entertaining, and exciting read that I was quick to devour. And if the #1 after the title is anything to go on, it looks like we may be hearing more from PI Roxane Weary. I am looking forward to it.

Thank you Minotaur Books and Kristen Lepionka for providing an advanced readers copy of this book for me to read in exchange for my honest review.

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Throwback Thursday – Take Me with You by Catherine Ryan Hyde


Throwback Thursday is a meme created by Renee at It’s Book Talk to share old favorite books rather than just the new shiny ones. This is a great idea to bring back to life some much-loved books. Please feel free to join in.

My choice for this week is : Take Me with You
by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Fantastic Book!!

I am very surprised that I didn’t find this author long ago. I did see the movie “Pay it Forward” based on her book by the same name years ago and loved it. When I came across this book and read the description, I thought it sounded pretty good. However, it more than exceeded my expectations. I devoured it and since then I’ve been a huge fan.

A worn out school teacher and recovering alcoholic, August Shroeder is taking a trip to Yellowstone in his RV.  It’s a trip he was supposed to take with his 19-year-old son, Philip. Tragically Philip was in a car accident and passed away recently. So August is making the trip alone.

After running into mechanical trouble with his RV he wonders if his trip is over before it begins. But fate intervenes. Now instead of making the trip alone, he will have two young passengers with him.

Catherine Ryan Hyde does a wonderful job of bringing her characters to life. As I read her books I often find myself nodding along and agreeing with something a character is saying….about love or life or many other things. These characters got into my heart and I have no doubt this book will stay with me a very long time. I was moved to tears on more than a few occasions.

Drawn in from the first page, this was an inspiring and unforgettable story. With fantastic characters and an extremely enjoyable plot, I devoured “Take Me With You” and became a huge fan of Catherine Ryan Hyde.

I highly recommend this book!