10 Books to Read By the Pool or Ocean

June 19, 2018

top ten tuesday books to read by pool or ocean

top ten tuesday

Lighter Reads: 10 Books to Read By the Pool or Ocean

*Linking up with That Artsy Reader Girl for Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books to Read By the Pool or Ocean. If you’ve clicked over from there, Welcome Book Buddies! Thanks for stopping in. I’d love to hear in comments what you’re reading by the pool or ocean this summer.

As an avid reader, I think that any book you take to read by the water is a pool or ocean read. It doesn’t necessarily need to be light even though that’s what many readers think of when grabbing a book for vacation. “Fluffy” or “Beach Reads” are typically not my favorite genre. Once in a while I find some light (or beach) reads that are somewhat substantial. Listed below are some lighter reads I can recommend. (in no particular order) Titles are Amazon links.

Escapist: Castle of Water by Dane Hucklebridge

Castle of Water

Full Review Here

I often think of this story when readers ask me to recommend a vacation read. It’s purely escapist, beautifully written, with a bit of romance and a “castaways” theme. I would not recommend it while flying because the story begins with a plane crash!


Chick Lit: Love Walked In, Belong to Me, I’ll Be Your Blue Sky
all by Marisa de los Santos

 

 

I seldom read chick lit, but I was tempted by these because of many favorable reviews.

The first, Love Walked In, I rated the lowest because it was wordy  and packed with too many literary and movie references for my taste. However, it does introduce the characters for the series. Of the three, it’s my least favorite, but it has received rave reviews and it’s popular with many readers.

Belong to Me is better written in my opinion and told from three perspectives. I loved the theme of belonging, “drawing a wider circle,” and creating a welcoming home.

I’ll Be Your Blue Sky is my favorite of the three because it brings in some historical fiction elements and has a complicated and engaging story line. This could be read as a stand alone but knowing the back story of the characters always makes for a richer reading experience. My Goodreads review here.


Chick Lit: How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry

How to find love in a bookstore

Full Review Here

I adored this story! Better than average chick lit, it was filled with complex characters and a variety of engaging story lines. In addition, the author created a delightful sense of place. Also, I’m in love with books about books!


Mystery/Detective: The Dry and Force of Nature
both by Jane Harper

 

 

Brief Review of The Dry Here

Full Review of Force of Nature Here

If you’re in the mood for some crime fiction, these are well written, solid reads without a focus on violence, profanity, or fright. Some readers refer to them as “atmospheric thrillers” because the author is skilled at developing a sense of place that helps to build tension. Although Force of Nature is a sequel, they can each be read as a stand alone. Reading The Dry first gives the reader some background information about Agent Falk which will enrich the reading experience of Force of Nature (but not necessary).


Literary Fiction and Music: The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom

Magic Strings of Frankie Presto

Full Review Here

Music lovers will find an extra layer of enjoyment in this read by the popular author Mitch Albom (Tuesdays With Morrie, etc). Reading it feels like a Music Appreciation Class as many famous musicians make appearances as characters in the story and well-known music compositions are referenced; as a bonus, there is a Musical Companion on iTunes. It’s well written in typical Mitch Albom style with a touch of magical realism.


Historical Fiction: The Way of Beauty by Camille Di Maio

the way of beauty

Full Review Here

No war in this easy reading, light, histfic selection (for those who are burned out on WW11 histfic!). The backdrop in this story is New York City’s historic Penn Station in the early 1900s. The story involves a. bit of romance and intrigue and is told from a mother’s and daughter’s perspectives. Architecture as historical treasures and symbolism, the Suffragette Movement, and mother/daughter relationships are prevalent themes.


Quirky Characters: The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce
and Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

 

Some of my favorite characters are quirky and are usually struggling to overcome challenges as they strive to lead their best lives. For example, I’m especially fond of Eleanor (Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine), Ginny (Ginny Moon), Ove (A Man Called Ove), and Britt-Marie (Britt-Marie Was Here).

Full Review of The Music Shop Here.

Goodreads review of Convenience Store Woman Here (blog review coming Friday).

These two recent releases have quirky characters: Frank in The Music Shop is frightened to fall in love and finds it difficult to accept help and other gestures of love from his neighbors and friends even though he is a great friend to them; Keiko in Convenience Store Woman is most likely on the autism spectrum (undiagnosed) and strives every day to appear normal by copying the clothing, mannerisms, and speech patterns of her coworkers and finds comfort and success in her routine tasks at the convenience store. I also love that this story explains the important role that convenience stores play in Japanese culture. Convenience Store Woman is almost a novella that can be read in one day and perhaps in one sitting.



That’s all book buddies! I could go on and on and on with book recommendations, but for this post I’ll cap it at 10 + 1 novella. For more reading ideas, you might look at my Summer TBR list or look through the A-Z Index Tab to find more great reads!

Here’s a FB video that depicts my reactions when someone asks me for a book recommendation!



Happy Reading Bookworms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection!
Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



My Summer TBR

I’ll be updating my Summer TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often!
(So far I’ve read a handful, and I’ve only abandoned one)



Links I Love:

This might be fun for summer: SnapShop Kids: Online Photography Class For Kids (and the entire family!)

More about summer reading for children in this link: The Ardent Biblio: How to Design a Summer Reading Program For Your Kids

In case you missed it: my post highlighting some diverse reading recommendations for MG children here.

If you are a fan of the Louise Penny “Inspector Gamache” series, here’s a new interview with the author who has a new installment in the series coming out in November.

This is an interesting podcast featuring an interview with Gail Honeyman, author of “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.”



Looking Ahead:

I’ll be writing a full review of Convenience Store Woman for Friday.

convenience store women

Amazon Information Here



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss!

What books are you packing in your beach or pool bag this summer? We’d all love to hear your suggestions in the comments!



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Us Against You

June 15, 2018

So much more than hockey…

Us Against You
by Fredrik Backman

us against you 2

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Sports, Hockey

Summary:

In this sequel to Beartown, Fredrik Backman continues to cause readers to care deeply about the Beartown community and hockey.  After the rape incident in Beartown, the community has to figure out how to trust each other again and restructure its hockey team. Many of the star hockey players have left the Beartown team and now play for the rival team in Hed. In fact, in Us Against You, the entire community is at risk economically and on the brink of losing everything. In addition to many returning characters from Beartown, readers are also introduced to a manipulative and cunning politician and become better acquainted with The Pack.

Us Against You is a multi layered, compelling story filled with danger, heartbreak, and sadness as it addresses themes of prejudice, bullying, secrets, parenting, sexism, friendship, loyalty, community support, competition, politics, courage, violence, conflict, leadership, and hope. This is not a stand alone story; reading Beartown first is essential. Amazon Early Rating (June): 4.6 Stars

My Thoughts:

A dedicated Backman fan, I’ve read all of his work. As a fan and reader, I appreciate his thought-provoking writing, his courage to take a creative risk, and his commitment to writing about important and difficult topics. I think he’s an exciting and provocative author worth reading even though your appreciation of his individual works may vary. He’s on my list of respected writers from whom I’ll automatically preorder a new work without considering reviews.

Us Against You is an emotional read and filled with pain and sadness. Backman’s writing ability, thought filled observations, and unique style moved me forward. The hope readers find in the story comes through individual determination and courage and in the community standing together to support, pick up the pieces, rebuild, and heal.

A professional reviewer (Green Valley News) refers to Backman as “the Charles Dickens of our age.” You might know that Dickens is a great English writer and social critic, and this comparison is an important consideration when reviewing Backman’s work. When looked at solely from this perspective, I would award Us Against You 5 stars.

When considering Beartown and Us Against You, I notice they have slightly different tones and Us Against You is more focused on social issues (similar to Dickens). Overall, Beartown is my favorite. The difference for me in the two stories is that in Beartown I felt immersed in the story and bonded with the characters as if I were a community member. Whereas in Us Against You, I felt like an observer. It seemed like Backman was asking me to analyze and form an opinion rather than participate in the story. Instead of the story capturing me and allowing me to draw my own conclusions, I was aware of Backman’s analysis of social issues. In place of investing in the story alongside the characters, I spent time pondering Backman’s statements and wondering to what extent I agreed or not. Like Dickens, his story is focused on social issues, and his points are important, thought-provoking, and promote engagement. Although my preference is for more story telling, Backman is a gifted writer and the story is filled with quotable passages such as these (I could have filled a journal):

“People always choose a simple lie over a complicated truth, because the lie has one unbeatable advantage: the truth always has to stick to what actually happened, whereas the lie just has to be easy to believe.”

“No one bows their heads around here, for the simple reason that many of our worst deeds are the result of never wanting to admit that we’re wrong. The greater the mistake and the worse the consequences, the more pride we stand to lose if we back down.”

“You become someone else’s property the first time you hear your child cry. You belong to that little person now. Before everything else. So when something happens to your child, it never stops being your fault.”

“A long marriage consists of such small things that when they get lost we don’t even know where to start looking for them….In the end the weight of carrying each other’s broken hearts becomes unbearable.”

Recommended for readers who have read Beartown and wouldn’t mind something grittier, darker, and sadder, for those who love sports and competition, for readers who like issue centered books, and for readers who appreciate thoughtful, excellent, and creative writing. If you have more questions after reading my review, please consider reading additional reviews before making your reading choice.

Alerts for locker room talk, homophobia, fighting and conflict, and references to suicide and rape.

My Rating: 4 Hockey Stars

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Us Against You

Buy Here

Meet the Author, Fredrik Backman

Frederick BackmanFredrik Backman, a blogger and columnist, is the New York Times bestselling author of A MAN CALLED OVE and MY GRANDMOTHER ASKED ME TO TELL YOU SHE’S SORRY. Both were number one bestsellers in his native Sweden and around the world, and are being published in more than thirty-five territories. He has also written BRITT-MARIE WAS HERE in addition to the BEARTOWN books and a few novellas. He lives in Stockholm with his wife and two children. Visit him online at his blog: FredrikBackman.com, on twitter @backmanland, or on instagram @backmansk or @backmansports.

*I’ve linked up today with Modern Mrs. Darcy: Quick Lit: June. If you’ve clicked over from there, Welcome! Thanks for stopping in!



Happy Reading Bookworms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection!
Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Links I Love:

This might be fun for summer: SnapShop Kids: Online Photography Class For Kids (and the entire family!)

More about summer reading for children in this link: The Ardent Biblio: How to Design a Summer Reading Program For Your Kids

In case you missed it: my post highlighting some diverse reading recommendations for MG children here.

If you are a fan of the Louise Penny “Inspector Gamache” series, here’s a new interview with the author who has a new installment in the series coming out in November.

This is an interesting podcast featuring an interview with Gail Honeyman, author of “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.”



Looking Ahead:

I’ll be reading and reviewing “Convenience Store Woman” by Sayaka Mukata from my Summer TBR. By the way, I’m updating my Summer TBR with star ratings as I read titles (if you want to check my progress from time to time).

convenience store women

Amazon Information Here



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss!

Are you a Fredrik Backman fan? Which of his works have you read?

What are you reading this week?



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s website.

Force of Nature

June 12, 2018

Lost in the Australian Bush….what would you do?

Force of Nature
by Jane Harper

force of nature 2

Genre/Categories: Crime Fiction, Mystery, Detective, Suspense, Australia

Summary:

Five women go on a hike in the Australian forested wilderness and only four return. As the women grab their backpacks and reluctantly set out, not one of the five women attending this three-day, mandated, corporate, team-building retreat is thrilled about the prospect. When four of the five women emerge from the woods battered and bruised, an investigation is launched to find the fifth woman. Federal agent Falk returns to help the investigation, and the story alternates between the present day investigation and the women’s experiences as the hike unfolded a few days earlier. Was the fifth woman murdered? Amazon Rating (June): 4.2 stars

My Thoughts:

If you’ve read The Dry, you’ll recognize Jane Harper’s ability to develop intriguing characters and a tangible and distinct sense of place, which in the case of Force of Nature is mountainous, wet, cold, dark, desolate, and windy. Described as an atmospheric thriller, Force of Nature was a just right read for me as a highly sensitive person. There is tension, but not too scary or unbearable. A person is missing, but it’s not overly terrifying for the reader. For me, the most dynamic parts of the story are the complex and strained relationships, the plot driven story, and the setting.

My only (slight) disappoint is that the romantic in me wished there had been more personal closure for Agent Falk since I am under the impression that his appearances are limited to her first two books. That being said, I did appreciate the “adult” way Falk’s attraction to his colleague was written by Harper; i.e. no YA “insta love” or overly passionate or unrealistic romantic escapades.

Jane Harper is a new author (this is her second work), and I’m confidant I’ll enjoy following her for years to come! Although the two books can be read as stand alones, I think it’s a richer reading experience to read The Dry first as it introduces the character and background of Agent Falk. Also, I think The Dry is slightly more suspenseful with more plot twists. However, I rate each book as a solid 4 star read.

Recommended for readers who are fans of Jane Harper and The Dry, readers who enjoy atmospheric mysteries and crime fiction, those who are looking for an undemanding, easy reading yet engaging, well written, and unputdownable vacation read, readers who are looking for clean reads (limited vulgarity, violence, etc), and readers who might have visited the Giralang Range of Australia. Her second work is on par with her first, and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

My Rating: 4 Atmospheric Stars

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Force of Nature

Buy Here

Meet the Author, Jane Harper

Jane HarperJane Harper’s debut novel The Dry is an atmospheric thriller set in regional Australia.
The novel won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript in 2015 and rights have since been sold in more than 20 territories.
The Dry was a No.1 bestseller in Australia and has been optioned for a film by Reese Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea’s production company, Pacific Standard.
Jane worked as a print journalist for 13 years both in Australia and the UK and lives in Melbourne with her family.



Happy Reading Bookworms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection!
Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Links I Love:

More about summer reading for children in this link: The Ardent Biblio: How to Design a Summer Reading Program For Your Kids

In case you missed it: my post highlighting some diverse reading recommendations for MG children here.



Looking Ahead:

Us Against YouFriday, I’ll review Backman’s new release Us Against You……sequel to Beartown.



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss!

What are you reading this week?



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s website.

Book Gift Ideas for Dad

June 8, 2018

happy father's day

in memory of dad

Remembering My Dad

 

My dad was promoted to Heaven on Father’s Day, 2009. He was a great man and excelled in many areas: farming (in his early years), pastor, theologian, professor, and writer. He was an avid reader and prolific writer, writing at least 30 books (most of them for his theology classes at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California). If you’re curious, the list of his books can be found here on Goodreads.

In retrospect, I wish I had asked him to make a list of his favorite books for leisure reading. I do know that he enjoyed poetry.

In anticipation of Father’s Day, here are some books that a Dad in your life might enjoy!

Book Recs for Dads

(favorite titles from my husband’s reading list)

If you are fortunate to have your dad in your life this Father’s Day, here are some great bookish ideas for Father’s Day. Titles are Amazon links and a few of these I have reviewed on the blog.

These are all books read and recommended by my husband. Each book is on his favorites list for a reason (he was a history major, loves baseball, enjoys memoir and biography, and appreciates books that inspire personal growth and reflection). Listed by category.

Biography/History:

Grant by Ron Chernow
This is one of my husband’s favorite reads of the year.
Here’s a review of Grant by a respected reviewer.

Grant

Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow

Washington

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

Alexander Hamilton

Martin Luther: the Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World by Eric Metaxas

Martin Luther

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

bonhoeffer

Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery

Amazing Grace

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

team of rivals


Historical Fiction:

News of the World by Paulette Jiles
(My Brief Review Here)

News of the World


Sports:

Wait Till Next Year by (Red Sox Baseball Fan) Doris Kearns Goodwin (Memoir)
(My Review Here)

Wait Till Next Year

Beartown by Fredrik Backman (fiction)
(My Brief Review of Beartown Here)

Beartown


Inspirational:

The Road to Character by David Brooks

The Road to Character


Spiritual:

The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen

Return of the Prodigal

Jesus: A Biography From a Believer by Paul Johnson

Jesus


True Crime:

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann

Killers of the Flower Moon


Contemporary Fiction:

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

man called ove


Science & Religion

The Language of God by Francis S. Collins

Language of God



Happy Reading Bookworms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection!
Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Links I Love

Peace, Love, & Raspberry Cordial: Who Played Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy Best? Comparing Old and New “Little Women” Movies

If you love the Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny, you might enjoy this recent interview! There is a new installment in the series releasing in November!

Beyond the Bookends: Reading Recommendations For Summer

PBS: The Great American Read
Have you voted?
How many books have you read of the hundred on the list?
Were you surprised by any on the list?
Do you plan to vote on your favorite reads?
I’m voting for Gone With the Wind!



Looking Ahead:

Us Against YouNext week, I’ll review Backman’s new release Us Against You……sequel to Beartown.



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss!

I’d love to hear about book you might buy for your dad!



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s website.

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto

June 6, 2018

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom

the magic strings of frankie presto

Genre/Categories: Fiction, Inspirational, Music, Fable

Summary:

Popular author Mitch Albom’s (Tuesdays With Morrie, The Five People You Meet in Heaven) latest release, The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, is a modern fable about the power of music to change our lives.

Music is the narrator telling the story of Frankie Presto, a gifted guitar player and singer, who changes six lives with his six magical blue strings. Born under tragic circumstances, abandoned as an infant, and raised by a music teacher in a small Spanish town, Frankie is sent to America alone at nine years old with his prized guitar (and six magic strings). His life touches many famous musicians on his journey to become a pop star himself. Because Frankie is troubled by his childhood experiences and tortured by his biggest mistake, he drops out of sight to reconcile with his past. He reappears just before his death to change one last life. Amazon Rating: 4.7 Stars

My Thoughts:

This is an older title (published in 2015) that I’m discovering for the first time.

“All humans are musical,” and in a metaphorical sense, “everyone joins a band in this life.” This unforgettable story is one that explores our deepest connections (in the larger sense) and Frankie’s life (specifically).

“I am Music. And Music is in the connection of human souls, speaking a language that needs no words.”

Like the narrator (Death) in The Book Thief, Music as narrator tenderly tells the heartfelt life story of Frankie, a gifted musician. Using a touch of fantasy and magical realism, Mitch Albom’s story (fable) draws upon his own real life experience as a musician to add depth and credibility to Frankie’s story.

Imaginatively told, cleverly constructed, and creatively written, there’s a lot to love about this story and its theme that music has the power to affect us all. The most interesting, creative, and daring part of the writing is the technique of weaving real life musical icons into the story as characters. As a result, readers are treated to a survey of pop culture music history. There’s also a soundtrack to accompany the book!

I love creative and innovative writing and the author definitely takes risks. Readers like myself will have to suspend belief at times to fully appreciate the fable that the author creates. This engaging story captivated me and gave me a “book hangover.”

Highly recommended for music lovers, for fans of Mitch Albom, and for readers who appreciate creative writing and a memorable story with unsuspected plot twists and a touch of romance.

My Rating: 5 Creative Musical Stars

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Magic Strings of Frankie Presto

Buy Here

Meet the Author, Mitch Albom

Mitch AlbomMitch Albom is an internationally renowned author, screenwriter, playwright, nationally syndicated columnist, broadcaster and musician. He is the author of six consecutive number one New York Times bestsellers–including Tuesdays with Morrie, the bestselling memoir of all time–and his books have collectively sold more than thirty-five million copies in forty-five languages. Four of his books have been made into Emmy Award-winning and critically-acclaimed television movies. He has founded eight charities in Detroit and Haiti, where he operates an orphanage. He lives with his wife, Janine, in Michigan. Learn more at http://www.mitchalbom.com and http://www.mitchalbomcharities.org



Happy Reading Bookworms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection!
Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Looking Ahead:

Friday, I’ll be highlighting book recs for Dads …… I’ll be in the process of reading Backman’s new release Us Against You……sequel to Beartown….. releasing 6/5)…my most anticipated new release of the year! My husband and I plan to “buddy read” it and a review will be coming some time in June. I’ve read some positive early reviews already.



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss!

Have you read this book? Have you read other titles by Mitch Albom?



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s website.

Summer Reading Ideas For Children

June 1, 2018

summer reading

If you have children in your family, what are your reading plans for the summer? Let’s talk summer reading for children with a focus on diverse reads!

Reading Clubs

May I encourage you to start a reading club with your children or grandchildren or niece or nephew? It’s a great way to promote literacy, make memories, and capture some bonding time. Some parents read books together with their children and other parents might assign reading to be discussed later at a special one-on-one lunch or dinner date. Reading the same high quality literature opens the door to many rich discussions of theme, character motivations, consequences, etc…. the discussion topic possibilities are limitless. Today I’m recommending great middle grade literature that adults will enjoy as well. It’s also fun if the book you’ve chosen has a movie adaptation for a family movie night.

 

wild robot

The Wild Robot series by Peter Brown is popular with upper elementary and middle grade readers. (I haven’t read them)

 

Reading Interviews

I’ll also encourage you to interview your children, grandchildren, nieces, or nephews about reading.

Here are reading interviews I recently conducted with two elementary aged boys in my family.

Jjacksonackson, age 9, 3rd grade

Q: Do you have a favorite book?
A: The Bible (I like reading the stories in my Children’s Bible)

Q: In school, what’s the best book you’ve read and what caused you to love it?
A: Charlotte’s Web is my favorite book because I like Wilbur, the pig.
Q: What did you like about Wilbur?
A: Wilbur was childish, funny, friendly, and a dare devil.

Q: Why do you think reading is important?
A: Reading is good for vocabulary.

Q: What is your favorite type of story to read (genre)?
A: I like the I Survived stories. I like real stories that could have really happened.

Q: If your friend wanted you to recommend one great book to read, what book would it be?
A: I would recommend Charlotte’s Web.   

Then he asked me a question: What book would YOU recommend for ME? (great question that I wasn’t prepared for!) I recommended Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell because of his preference for survival stories (and because it’s a traditional 4th grade core lit text). I might reread it with him so that we can have a “book date”!

dylanDylan, age 12, 6th grade

Q: What is your favorite book ever?
A: The BFG is my favorite book.
Q: Why did you choose that one as your favorite?
A: I liked the plot and character development.

Q: Do you enjoy reading?
A: I enjoy reading when I have time and when I’m not busy with school projects.

Q: What is your favorite genre?
A: I don’t have a preference for genre. I like fiction and nonfiction. My main preference for books is that they are engaging and hold my interest. I also really enjoy a series.

Q: Why do you think it’s important to read?
A: Reading helps you be a better speller and writer. I noticed recently that I was writing better because I had noticed the way an author had written something.

Q: What are you reading right now?
A: I’m reading Roar of Thunder, Hear My Cry with my class.

Q: How do you get ideas for what to read next?
A: I ask my friends what they’re reading or I hear them talking about books.

Q: What is the next book you’d like to read?
A: I’d like to read The Hunger Games next. I heard some friends talking about it and it sounds interesting to me because it’s a series.

Q: Do you have a favorite character from the books you’ve read?
A: I like Harry Potter because he’s such a relatable character, and I can relate to the issues in his life. I think lots of kids like Harry Potter because he’s relatable.

Q: Do you have a favorite setting from the books you’ve read?
A: I loved the setting in Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. It would be great to live on an island and try to survive.

Q: If your best friend asked you for a book recommendation, which book would you recommend?
A: I would recommend Harry Potter. I really like that Harry Potter is a relatable character and that it is a series.



My Recommendations For Summer Reading With a Focus on Diverse Reads

I know there are hundreds of great books to recommend for children, but here are a few that I have read recently that parents might enjoy too (arranged by category):

* * * Diversity * * *

crenshaw 2

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate
Genre: Fiction (Categories: poverty, homelessness, imaginary friends)
My Rating: 4 stars
Katherine Applegate is a popular children’s author best known for “The One and Only Ivan.” Crenshaw is a thought-provoking, beautifully, and creatively written story exploring poverty, homelessness, and imaginary friends. Because the content of this book builds compassion and the topic of homelessness might worry some readers, I recommend this as a “read together” book. (the main character is a boy)

Wonder

Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Genre: Fiction (Categories: physical differences, kindness, compassion, acceptance)
My Rating: 5 Stars
Wonder has been positively reviewed by parents, teachers, and children,  it inspired the national “Choose Kind” campaign, and many of you have seen the movie. However, if you haven’t read the book, I think it’s a must read experience for everyone! This easy to read, engaging, and thought-provoking read paves the way for grand discussions and builds compassion and empathy…..I believe that the best teaching occurs within the context of a story. My full review here.

El Deafo

El Deafo by Cece Bell
Genre: Graphic Novel (Category: hearing loss)
My Rating: 3 Stars
For older elementary school readers who love graphic novels, this story about a girl who wears an assistive device for hearing is informational, heartwarming, and builds understanding. Although all characters are rabbits, I forgot about that once I became engaged with the story! Graphic novels are sometimes a great choice for reluctant readers.

*Several of the books below also fit in the diversity category.

* * * Historical Fiction * * *

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
(sequel: The War I Finally Won)
Genre: Historical Fiction (Category: World War11)
My Rating: 4 Stars
This author has also written “Jefferson’s Sons.”
The War That Saved My Life (and it’s sequel) is a WW11 historical fiction story about an adventurous, feisty, and brave girl with an invincible spirit who is shipped out of London along with her younger brother to escape the war.

Refugee

Refugee by Alan Gratz
Genre: Historical Fiction (Category: refugees)
My Rating: 5 Stars
(this would also fit in the diversity category)
Recommended for mature middle grade readers, this is a riveting refugee story told from three perspectives over several decades and several locations (Syria, Germany, Cuba). It’s an engaging, unputdownable, and relevant read for middle graders and adults, and it features two boys and one girl as main characters. Refugee is one of my favorite mature middle grade reads and you can find my full review here.

Inside Out and Back Again

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Genre: Historical Fiction (Categories: Vietnam to America, new culture, bullying)
My Rating: 5 Stars
(this would also fit in the diversity category)
Told in free verse from the perspective of ten-year-old Ha and inspired by the author’s own experiences, this is a poignant and beautifully written story of a family’s escape from Vietnam to America. This refugee and immigrant story builds compassion and is filled with thoughtful reflection as Ha experiences grief, bullying, learning English, new foods and customs, a neighbor’s kindness, finding her voice, family loyalty, and the comfort of old traditions. A perfect read for older elementary or middle grade readers and enjoyable for adults as well. Don’t miss this beautiful book!

Stella by Starlight

Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper
Genre: Historical Fiction (Categories: African-American, prejudice)
My Rating: 4 Stars
(this would also fit in the diversity category)
Stella by Starlight is a beautifully written and important historical fiction read for middle graders with important themes (personal and historical) that will allow for a great discussion. Stella is brave, curious, kind, thoughtful, intelligent, and an aspiring writer with a unique voice. She is a relatable and memorable character for readers as she deals with racism, the KKK, and community issues.

* * * Memoir * * *

we beat the street

We Beat the Street: How a Friendship Pact Led to Success by Sampson Davis
Genre: Nonfiction (Categories: memoir, friendship, education, career, African-American)
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
(this would also fit in the diversity category)
This is an inspiring (and sometimes gritty) story of how three aspiring boys of color from poor communities became friends and supported each other in their common goal of becoming doctors. We Beat the Street is the middle grade version of a YA book, The Pact: Three Young Men Make a Promise to Fulfill a Dream. Today, they can be found at The Three Doctors Foundation.

* * * Science * * *

Finding Wonders

Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science by Jeannine Atkins
Genre: Historical Fiction (Category: women in science)
My Rating: 4 Stars
Finding Wonders is a beautifully and creatively written historical fiction story for older middle grade girls that explores the childhood lives of three girls who are curious, love questions and the world around them, and are persistent in pursuing their love of science and scientific inquires. Each girl grows up to become a scientist and makes important scientific contributions. Middle grade girls will enjoy reading about the early interests of these real women scientists (in a historical fiction format). This story could easily lead into research projects.

* * * Classics * * *

Of course, parents and grandparents can always revisit beloved classics with their children and grandchildren. For example,
Little Women
Heidi
Anne of Green Gables
Emily of New Moon
Nancy Drew Mysteries
The Hardy Boys
Chronicles of Narnia
The Hobbit
Little House on the Prairie
Ramona Books
…and many, many others!



Reading and Dyslexia

* * * * * Listen to This or Read the Show Notes! * * * * *

Listen to 6th grade Ben on the Modern Mrs Darcy “What Should I Read Next” podcast talk about reading! It’s a guaranteed delightful episode. Ben has dyslexia and has used audio books to become an avid reader. This is a great bookish discussion that will motivate kids toward their summer reading goals and includes some terrific recommendations.

A few titles Modern Mrs Darcy suggests for Ben:
The Red Wall Series by Brian Jaques (fantasy….written especially for audio enjoyment)
Gregor The Overlander Series by Suzanne Collins (fantasy, author of Hunger Games)
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Van Glaser (similar to Penderwicks series)
Sammy Keys and the Hotel Thief Series by Wendelin Van Draanen (funny mysteries….tough girl main character)
Green Ember Series by S. D. Smith



Links I Love:

The Novel Endeavor: 10 Perfect Audio Books For Summer Road Trips

The Novel Endeavor: Fairytale Retellings for Families

Ten Ways to Woo a Reluctant Reader



Happy Reading Bookworms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection!
Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



PBS: The Great American Read

How many books have you read of the hundred on the list? Which ones will you vote for? Were you surprised by any on the list? Do you plan to vote on your favorite reads? I’ve already voted for Gone With the Wind!



Looking Ahead:

Next week, I’ll be highlighting recs for Dads …… I’ll be in the process of reading Backman’s new release Us Against You……sequel to Beartown….. releasing 6/5)…my most anticipated new release of the year! My husband and I plan to “buddy read” it and a review will be coming some time in June. I’ve read some positive early reviews already.



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss!

I’d love to hear about your summer reading and, if you have children in your life, what summer reading looks like in your family.

Do you have a book your children have enjoyed that you can recommend?

Also, please share what you’ve been reading lately and/or your thoughts about The Great American Read sponsored by PBS.

I enjoy a good middle grade read once in a while. Do you ever read children’s literature?



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s website.

 

 

May Wrap Up

May 31, 2018

May Wrap Up

May Wrap Up

My intention with this blog is to bring you the BEST of what I’m reading and to use Goodreads for the total of what I’m reading. I’m committed to offering 4 & 5 star reviews for reading recommendations on the blog. My greatest fear is that you’ll see a cover in a book store (or Target!) and think “Oh, I saw that book on Reading Ladies!” and not remember that it was a book that I rated less than 4 or 5 stars and be disappointed with the read. So for me, it feels risky to post the entirety of my reading on the blog.

That being said….I’m following in the footsteps of other bloggers at month’s end and presenting all of my month’s reading along with my star ratings. Two of the seven titles I’ve reviewed on the blog and I’ll provide those links for you. There’s at least one more title that will receive a full feature review soon. (I actually read 8 books this month, but I’m not listing one because I can’t recommend it in any way even though I gave it 3 stars.)

Keep in mind that my 3 star reads have been rated higher by other readers, so check out the Amazon or Goodreads reviews.

The reading experience is subjective and I share my ratings knowing that if you’ve read the same selections, our opinions will vary greatly.

*Books listed in order by my star rating



Magic Strings of Frankie Presto

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom
(full review coming soon)
Genre: Fiction (categories: music, inspirational, a touch of fantasy/folktale)
My Rating: 5 Stars
My Brief Thoughts: I loved the life story of Frankie and his musical talent told from Music’s perspective (including a touch of fantasy and folk tale)….thanks for the recommendation Patti Iverson! Look for my full review on the blog soon!
Recommended for music fans, for Mitch Albom fans, and for readers looking for a creative, well written, unique read.



the music shop

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce (previously reviewed here)
Genre: Fiction (categories: music, memorable characters)
My Rating: 5 Stars

My Brief Thoughts: In the spirit of A Man Called Ove, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, and Britt-Marie Was Here, this is a poignant and heartfelt story of a quirky and lovable music shop owner who is dedicated to the preservation of vinyl and finds love and healing through music. (there is a playlist on Spotify to accompany the book) See my full review here.
Recommended for music lovers and for readers who appreciate quirky characters who struggle to create a better life for themselves.
*Language Alert



the way of beauty

The Way of Beauty by Camille Di Maio (previously reviewed here)
Genre: Historical Fiction (categories: family, romance, New York City, Penn Station, Suffragettes)
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
My Brief Thoughts: Set in New York City around historic Penn Station, this is a thoughtful and memorable story of family and romance told from two perspectives (mother and daughter). See my full review here.
Recommended for readers who appreciate multi-generational stories, for readers who love New York City, for those who love stories about strong independent women, and for those who like themes involving sacrifice, persistence, determination, romance, symbolic architecture, and the Suffragette Movement.



beneath a scarlet sky

Beneath a Scarlett Sky by Mark Sullivan
Genre: Historical Fiction (categories: WW11, Spain)
My Rating: 4 Stars (3 for writing quality, 5 for engaging)
My Brief Thoughts: This is an unputdownable story that explores WW11 from Spain’s perspective; the main character is compelling and brave and can cleverly think or maneuver his way out of any difficult situation.
Recommended for readers who like fast paced, page turners and who are looking for a compelling historical fiction read.



the vines we planted

The Vines We Planted by (debut author) Joanell Serra
Genre: Fiction (categories: family, romance, wine country)
My Brief Thoughts: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, and all opinions are my own (my full review can be found on Goodreads). This fast paced story set in California’s wine country is packed with well drawn characters and many story lines and themes.
Recommended for readers who want an engaging read from the first paragraph, for those who appreciate a California wine country setting, and for fans of romance and family sagas.
*Language Alert



last train to istanbul

Last Train to Istanbul by Ayse Kulin
Genre: Historical Fiction (categories: WW11, Jewish, Turkey, France)
My Rating: 3 Stars
My Brief Thoughts: I often give 3 stars to reads that are OK but could have been better in some ways (3 stars are usually a mixed bag for me). Because I enjoy historical fiction, I appreciate the historical perspective of Turkey working earnestly to spirit its Jewish citizens out of France and away from the Gestapo; however, I have a few concerns. I felt like too many characters were introduced, too many story lines were left dangling, and it could have been better written (or perhaps better translated).
Recommended for readers who appreciate diverse reads by authors from another country and for fans of WW11 historical fiction and its various perspectives.



I am I am I am

I Am, I Am, I am by Maggie O’Farrell
Genre: Nonfiction (category: Memoir)
My Rating: 3 Stars
My Brief Thoughts: Three stars reads are a mixed bag for me. They are usually OK reads but could have been better for me in some ways. Even though I enjoy memoirs and Maggie O’Farrell is a gifted writer, I struggled with this read and skimmed many chapters. I probably attempted to plow through too much of the book in one sitting. I think it would have been better for me to read one chapter and then set it aside for the day.  Some of the chapters were more interesting to me than others, and some of the content caused me to ponder my own fears. Although I appreciate her creative structure and unique approach to a memoir, the chapters are not in chronological order and this began to bother me after a while because I lost track of what had happened before or after. My final take is that the content of this memoir was too heavy or discouraging for me and I started to feel anxious. If she had written something lighter or humorous in between the traumatic experiences, I think it would have been an easier read.
Recommended for readers who are fans of Maggie O’Farrell.



Happy Reading Bookworms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection!
Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



PBS: The Great American Read

How many books have you read of the hundred on the list? Which ones will you vote for? Were you surprised by any on the list? Do you plan to vote on your favorite reads? I’ve already voted once for Gone With the Wind!



Looking Ahead:

Come back tomorrow (Friday) when I’ll be discussing summer reading opportunities for children and families.

I started Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions by Mario Giordana today. (It’s received mixed reviews so far.)

I’ll soon be reading Backman’s new release Us Against You……sequel to Beartown….. releasing 6/5).



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss!

I’d love to hear about your May reading in the comments.

Also, I’d love to hear your choices for The Great American Read sponsored by PBS.



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s website.

 

 

 

The Music Shop

May 25, 2018

The Music Shop
by Rachel Joyce

the music shop

Genre/categories: Fiction, Friendship, Music

Summary:

Set in the 1980s on a run-down street in a forgotten suburb of London, there is a small indie music shop that is jam-packed with vinyl records of every kind. Frank, the shop’s owner, has a way of connecting his customers with the exact piece of music they never knew they needed, he welcomes the lonely, and he goes out of his way to help others. One ordinary day, a beautiful young woman in a green coat, Ilse Brauchmann, comes into his music shop and changes his life. Frank feels an attraction to her and yet he fears developing any closeness; in spite of his reservations, he begins to teach her about music and they develop a close friendship based on their common musical interests. Frank is terrified of his feelings for Ilse, yet he’s drawn to this strangely still, mysterious woman with eyes as black as vinyl. It’s complicated because Ilse has secrets and Frank has a past that haunts him. Readers find out about Frank’s life with his eccentric mother through flashbacks; however, Ilse remains mysterious. While Frank and Ilse contemplate the risks of a relationship, there are events in the community that threaten the livelihood of all the small, independent shops including Frank’s music shop. A further complication for Frank, is the growing popularity of cassette tapes and CDs while Frank cherishes the world of vinyl.

Themes:

Despite the probability of a relationship between Frank and Ilse, the main theme of the book explores healing more than romance. Other themes involve music appreciation as readers are treated to a variety of musical discussions; in addition, the theme of friendship is strong as readers meet loyal, delightful, memorable, and flawed characters. As a bonus, there is a spotify playlist for the music selections mentioned in the story so that you can listen as you read.     bit.ly/TheMusicShopPlaylist

Amazon Rating: 4.4 Stars  (*Language Alert)

May compelling character

Join the Link Up below.

Meet Frank, May’s Most Compelling Character

I have a soft spot in my heart for a quirky character who is overcoming a difficult and turbulent past and taking risks to create a better life. In the spirit of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, A Man Called Ove, and Britt-Marie Was Here, readers come to understand and love Frank. Through this gentle and heart-felt story, we notice that Frank has a gift of listening to each customer and recommending a perfect piece of music to touch that person’s soul. In spite of a fear of love and connection, we see that Frank has gained the love and support of the small community on Unity Street. On this aptly named street, these small, independent shop owners stick together, form a community, and care for one another in tough economic times and tragedies. Like many people who are busy loving their neighbors, Frank has difficulty accepting their love and attention in return. As with many independent store owners, he carefully provides personal service to each customer (paying or not). His greatest gift is the ability to listen, his greatest heartache is his devotion to and preservation of vinyl, and his greatest fear is having what he most wants, the love of mysterious Ilse.

Recommendation and Rating:

In this heartfelt story, Frank and Ilse take risks and the healing power of music and love is poignantly illustrated. This book may not be for everyone, but I loved it! Highly recommended for readers who love music, readers who appreciate quirky, flawed characters struggling to make a better life despite their past, and for readers who love memorable themes of healing, persistence, risk taking, loyalty, friendship, music appreciation, and community. I had it rated a solid 4 stars until the ending which had me in tears, and that’s when I knew this story had earned 5 stars. (*language alert)

Remember to listen to The Music Shop Playlist on Spotify as you read!  bit.ly/TheMusicShopPlaylist

My Rating: 5 romantic stars

twinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-star

music shop

Buy Here

Meet the Author, Rachel Joyce

Rachel JoyceRachel Joyce is the author of the Sunday Times and international bestsellers The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Perfect. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and has been translated into thirty-six languages. Joyce was named the Specsavers National Book Awards “New Writer of the Year” in 2012. She is also the author of The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy, The Music Shop, and the digital short story A Faraway Smell of Lemon and is the award-winning writer of more than thirty original afternoon plays and classic adaptations for BBC Radio 4. Rachel Joyce lives with her family in Gloucestershire.



May’s Most Memorable Character Link Up



 Happy Reading Bookworms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection!
Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



PBS: The Great American Read

How many books have you read of the hundred on the list? Which ones will you vote for? Were you surprised by any on the list? Do you plan to vote on your favorite reads? I’ve already voted once for Gone With the Wind!



Links I Love

Modern Mrs. Darcey: Summer Reading Guide (books by category)
*I linked to this list last week, but Anne Bogel (Modern Mrs. Darcey) has sorted the books on the list into categories which is helpful and interesting…..several titles on my summer TBR are from this list (and there are a few that I’m not reading based on descriptions).

The Novel Endeavor: Summer Reading Guide for Families: Fairy Tale Retellings

Perspective of a Writer: Passport to international Travel Through Reading (book recs to take you around the world!)



Looking Ahead:

Next week, I’ll be highlighting some summer recs for kids (while I’m reading Backman’s new release Us Against You……sequel to Beartown….. releasing 6/5).



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss!

I’d love to hear about the most memorable character from your May reading in the comments or in the link up above.

Also, please share what you’ve been reading lately and/or your thoughts about The Great American Read sponsored by PBS.



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s website.

Summer Reading Season

May 18, 2018

summer reading

Summer TBR

As the summer reading season quickly approaches, it’s a perfect time to update TBRs! Honestly, I spend a great deal of time combing published lists and curating my TBR, and it’s a work in progress (more like a moving target to quote The Loud Library Lady) because I will delete and add titles depending on reviews and availability. For this list, I deliberately sought out recent releases, diverse reads, and women authors. If any of these reads earn a 4 or 5 star rating from me, you’ll see my review on the blog. Please don’t think I’m recommending everything on this list….I don’t end up loving every title I read…..what you read will depend on your preferences and preferred genres.

It’s OK to like different books!

One list that I always check for ideas is Modern Mrs Darcy’s Summer Reading Guide. (I’m not sure whether or not you need to register your email to access the list…if so, you can always unsubscribe). The books on her list don’t always align with my preferences (more than a few on this year’s list are heavier and/or darker than usual or not preferred genres so check the reviews carefully….I already found a couple from her list that I’ve scratched off and one that I started a few weeks ago and discarded onto the DNF shelf); nevertheless, I did find a handful of good titles to add to my summer TBR. What you might like about the MMD Summer Reading Guide is that these will most likely be the most talked about books this summer and show up on your local Target shelf. (By the way, I didn’t put the popular The Great Alone on my summer list because I’ve already read and reviewed it here. I recommend it for your summer reading if you haven’t already read it….*trigger warnings for some domestic abuse.)***I’m planning to come back to this list throughout the year and add updates as I read the selections.

***Edited to add: Naturally, the first book I read this summer wasn’t even on this list and I loved it: The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto …. review here.

What’s on your summer reading list?



Here’s what’s ahead for me this summer on my TBR (in no particular order):
(Amazon links provided for summary and purchase information)

Force of NatureForce of Nature by Jane Harper
Genre: Crime Fiction
(stand alone….you do not have to have read The Dry before reading her second book). This title was on my Spring TBR and I’m still on the library wait list).
***Update: Solid read. 4 stars. Agent Falk continues as a main character in this atmospheric mystery set in the isolated woods of Australia, and I enjoyed it just as much as The Dry. Force of Nature Review Here.


the widows of malabar hillThe Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey
(diverse read set in Bombay, India).
Genre: Mystery
*A bit nervous about this…it’s received mixed reviews.


a place for usA Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza
(diverse read)
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Cultural Heritage/Family Life
Releases June 12, 2018.


what we were promisedWhat We Were Promised by Lucy Tan
(diverse read)
Genre: Historical Fiction/Asian American


ensembleThe Ensemble by Aja Gabel
Genre: Literary Fiction/Music


how to walk awayHow to Walk Away by Katherine Center
Genre: Women’s Fiction


the boat peopleThe Boat People by Sharon Bala 
(Diverse read, Sri Lanka to Canada)
Genre: Historical Fiction/Cultural Heritage/Family Life


whiskey and ribbonsWhiskey & Ribbons by Leesa Cross-Smith
(diverse read)
Genre: African-American/Women’s Fiction/Family Life


not your perfect mexican daughterI Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez
(diverse read, Mexican American)
Genre: YA Fiction/Social and Family Issues
***UPDATE: I abandoned this at 30%….not the book for me….disappointing


map of salt and starsThe Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar 
(diverse read, Syria)
Genre: Literary Fiction/Folk Tale


clock dance

Clock Dance by Anne Tyler
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Domestic Life.
Releases July 10, 2018.
Although I’m not a huge Anne Tyler fan, I’m willing to give this a try (keeping it on my list until more reviews come in) because she’s a gifted writer.


convenience store womenConvenience Store Woman by  Sayaka Murata
(diverse read)
Genre: Fiction
Releases June 12, 2018.
This had me at “quirky.”
***UPDATE: This is a quick, easy read (one day or possibly one sitting). I enjoyed this engaging story about a convenience store worker in Japan and her unique challenges. It might not be for everyone, but I enjoy adore quirky characters. 4 stars. Review coming soon to the blog; in the meantime, here’s my Goodreads review,


Auntie PoldiAuntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions by Mario Giordano
(diverse read)
Genre: Fiction/International Mystery
*Unsure about this one…it’s received mixed reviews.
***UPDATE: I finished it but it wasn’t a favorite read. 3 stars. Purely escapist, quirky characters, Italian culture, a mystery to solve, and a bit of romance. Although the writing is generally snappy, it’s a bit over the top for my taste.


I was anastasia

I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon
Genre: Historical Fiction, Biographical, Mystery
I’m on the fence about this one. Reviews are mixed. Just about the time I decide I’ll skip it, I’ll read a great review and then I have FOMO (fear of missing out)! So, I’m keeping this on the list for now.


queen of hearts

The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Sisters/Mothers & Children
*Compared to Grey’s Anatomy (on the fence about this one)


Chick Lit

 

 

Honestly, light chick lit is a genre that I don’t usually love; however, multitudes of readers buy and enjoy light chick lit reads by the pool, next to the ocean, or while traveling during the summer. Because of FOMO (fear of missing out) and from time to time liking a palate cleanser in between heavier reads, I will (selectively) read chick lit. Two that I’m contemplating this summer, should the mood strike, are The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand (Releases June 19, 2018) and I’ll Be Your Blue Sky by Maria de los Santos.

***UPDATE: I’ll Be Your Blue Sky is better written with more complexity than the typical chick lit reads. 4 star Goodreads review here.



By the way….

Any book you read at the beach is a beach read! (doesn’t have to be escapist)

Any book you read during the summer is a summer read! (doesn’t have to be light)

…and along the same train of thought….Any body wearing a swim suit is a beach body.



Winter and Spring TRR Update

I’m working toward reading the last two titles from my Winter and Spring TBR lists:

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff is the only title left to read from my Winter list (I think at this point it feels like it has a permanent home on my TBR).

I finished The Music Shop from my Spring list this week and I reviewed it here.

I removed Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr from my Spring list because I found out that it’s an older book (written before All the Light You Cannot See)….. I’ll keep it on my general Goodreads to-read-someday shelf, but I’m removing it from my intentional, active TBR. If I visit Rome some day, I may move it to a priority list!

Do you like to make and check off lists?! When I look at both book lists, it gives me a great feeling of accomplishment! Most of them were enjoyable reads and if you look at the Index tab, you will find most reviews (I don’t review books on the blog that I do not truly love). Of course, there’s always books I discover along the way that never make it onto my TBR; they get squeezed in.



Other Reading Lists
(I have not previewed or read titles from these lists)

Diverse Books Club Book List (list in chart form)

Diverse Book Club Summer Reading Guide (same list as above with brief descriptions)

Prose and Palate: What Prose and Palate is Reading This Summer

The Novel Endeavor: A Mother’s Day Gift Guide (a few days late but I saw it after I had already published my recs for Mother’s Day post)



Happy Reading Bookworms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection!
Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Links I Love

Do you love books and food? Check out the next two links!

My bookish friend Rhonda from The Thankful Heart shares a lovely breakfast get together with bookish friends that would be so easy and fun to emulate!

The Thankful Heart: Books and Breakfast: A Morning With Friends

If bookish get togethers and food are your jam….you might enjoy perusing The Ardent Biblio’s Literary Dinner Events (inspiring, ambitious, and lovely dinners using a book’s inspiration):

The Ardent Biblio: Literary Dinners

If you live in Tornado Alley or in an area that experiences severe weather you might enjoy this unique book list of 5 books to read in a shelter during a tornado alert!

Julia Harmon Book Woman: Five Reasons to Read During Severe Weather (& 5 recommendations)

Little Women

Did you watch the recent PBS adaptation of “Little Women”? The following link is an enjoyable and thoughtful review:

Peace, Love, and Raspberry Cordial: 12 Little Musings On the New Little Women



In Case You Missed It…….Last Week’s Post Listing Bookish Gift Ideas For Mom



Looking Ahead:

Next week, I’ll be reviewing “The Music Shop” and offering a “Memorable Character of the Month” link up opportunity.

music shop

Summary and Purchase Information Here



I Can’t Help It!

Books I’m Already Looking Forward To For Fall!

The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton
Releases October 8

Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan (C. S. Lewis)
Releases October 8

Kingdom of the Blind: An Inspector Gamache Novel by Louise Penney
Releases November 27

The Colors of All the Cattle: No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency (#19) by Alexander McCall Smith
Releases November 6



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss!

I’d love to hear about your summer TBR list!

Also, please share what you’ve been reading lately!



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

A Rec For You, Mom!

May 11, 2018

mom and me mother's day

Here’s a book recommendation I think you’ll like, Mom!

Mom didn’t grow up loving to read, but she always made sure that her three girls were surrounded by library books and read to us when we were little. Mom admits that when she was in high school, she bribed her older sister to write her book reports. After graduation she went to business school in preparation for secretarial work. As a new wife and young mother, she had limited free time as most of her time was spent on labor intensive and time-consuming farm chores (in the days before our modern conveniences). Later when my father became a pastor, she spent her free evenings ironing his white shirts. Finally when her daughters were in high school and she went back to college, she began reading for her own pleasure. After she discovered the joy of reading and found herself with more free time, she was always in the middle of a book and today she reads all of my recommendations; in fact, we share an Amazon kindle account. In addition to a myriad of individual titles, we’ve read and loved the Louise Penny Inspector Gamache series and the Alexander McCall Smith #1 Ladies Detective series. Sharing books is a joy! It’s difficult for me to imagine a time in her life when she didn’t read.

I think you’ll like the title I’m recommending today, Mom!

The Way of Beauty
by Camille Di Maio

the way of beauty 2

Genre/categories: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Family, Romance, New York City, Penn Station

*Linking up today with Words on Wednesday. If you’ve clicked over from there, Welcome!

Summary:

As a child in the early 1900s in New York City, Vera Keller falls in love with a childhood friend who is nine years older than she. Through the years, they remain close. Although Angelo acts like her older brother, Vera is convinced that someday they will marry. One day she is shocked when he introduces her to his fiance, Pearl. Despite her heartbreak, Vera and Pearl become friends and Pearl introduces her to the Suffragette Movement. As Vera becomes entangled in their lives, her love for Angelo never dies. As a result of her love for Angelo and her commitment to Pearl’s cause, Vera has many challenges and difficult choices to make. The latter half of the book is told from Vera’s daughter’s perspective. Her daughter, Alice, enjoys benefits from the Suffragette Movement but also faces her own challenges in caring for her ailing father and in choosing between two men whom she loves. Early Amazon Star Rating (May): 4.8 Stars

My Thoughts:

Do you have fond memories of a certain landmark that you associate with a memorable event in your life? (For my husband and I, it’s In ‘N Out hamburger stands!) Are you old enough to have grieved the demise of certain landmarks or symbols? Have you ever remarked “Remember when…”? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, you may find this story especially meaningful.

Although romance plays a large role in this story, there’s so much more. Readers gain historical insight into and appreciation for New York City’s historic Penn Station and for the daring and visionary women who led the Suffragette Movement. At the center of everything, there’s a sweet and heartfelt story of family and individual determination.

In addition to poignant themes of friendship, true love, family loyalty and support, hopes and dreams, class distinctions, privilege, strong and independent women, sacrifice, perseverance, progress, and preservation of the past, you will find lovable and memorable characters and an engaging story line.

Highly recommended for fans of historical fiction and multi generational stories, for those who love descriptive historical perspectives of the time period and architecture, for New Yorkers, and for readers who are looking for an engaging, captivating, unputdownable, and enjoyable read.

My Rating: 4 Stars

twinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-star

I hope you enjoy this week’s recommendation, Mom!

mothers-day

candle for mom

 

the way of beauty

Buy Here

Meet the Author, Camille Di Maio

camille di maioCamille recently left an award-winning real estate career in San Antonio to become a full-time writer. Along with her husband of twenty years, she enjoys raising their four children. She has a bucket list that is never-ending, and uses her adventures to inspire her writing. She’s lived in Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and California, and spends enough time in Hawai’i to feel like a local. She’s traveled to four continents (so far), and met Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II. She just about fainted when she had a chance to meet her musical idol, Paul McCartney, too. Camille studied political science in college, but found working on actual campaigns much more fun. She overdoses on goodies at farmers markets (justifying them by her support for local bakeries) and belts out Broadway tunes whenever the moment strikes. There’s almost nothing she wouldn’t try, so long as it doesn’t involve heights, roller skates, or anything illegal. “The Memory of Us” is Camille’s debut novel and is a finalist for the Holt Medallion Award for Literary Excellence. Her second, “Before the Rain Falls” was released in May 2017. Her third, “The Way of Beauty” is available now.



Happy Reading Bookworms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection!
Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Links I Love

The Novel Endeavor: Books for Mom: A Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Love, Peace & Raspberry Cordial: Anne of Green Gables, My Daughter, and Me

A Lovely Photography Blog @ A Rosy Note

Recipes and thoughtful reflections from The Thankful Heart



In Case You Missed It…….Last Week’s Post Listing Bookish Gift Ideas For Mom



Looking Ahead:

Next week, I plan to talk about summer reading (in eager anticipation of Modern Mrs Darcy’s 2018 Summer Reading Guide to be released in a few days!). I’m also selecting something from my Spring TBR list to read (still waiting for library holds).



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss!

I’d love to hear about your memorable landmarks!

Also, please share what you’ve been reading lately!



Happy Mother’s Day to my followers who are celebrating! 

happy mothers day wreath

candle for mom



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.