The Summer House [Book Review]

June 2, 2020

The Summer House by Lauren K Denton

The Summer House by Lauren K Denton (cover) Image: a blue wooden swing on a wide white porch

Genre/Categories: Light Contemporary Women’s Fiction, Southern Fiction, Uplit, Divorce

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Thanks, @thomasnelson #netgalley for the complimentary e copy of #thesummerhouse. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

From the author of Hurricane Season and Glory Road…

Lily is devastated to find a goodbye note and signed divorce papers on the kitchen table when she awakens. Before her brief marriage, she was a hairstylist, and she contemplates the possibility of leveraging this skill to make a fresh start. By chance, she notices a flyer advertising the need for a hairstylist in a nearby retirement community. Desperate for a job, she makes the call and shows up for the interview and also negotiates for the apartment above the salon.

My Thoughts:

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May 2020 Reading Wrap Up

May 31, 2020

May 2020 Reading Wrap Up

May Reading Wrap Up (collage of book covers)

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

What Was Your Favorite May Read?

May was a better reading month than March and April with six four-star reads, and four three-star reads. No DNFs for the win! I read a total of ten books (41 for the year) which puts me right on pace to meet my year-end challenge of 100 books.

Find all my May reads listed below in order of Star Rating and preference. Keep in mind that I normally recommend five- and four-star reads on the blog; three-star reads receive mixed reviews from me for various reasons; and two-star reads are books I may or may not have finished but they were not for me. One star reads are usually shelved as DNF or perhaps quickly scanned.

Under COVID-19 conditions, I hope that you’re all doing well and staying safe!

My favorite fiction read of the month is Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo for its poignant themes and beautiful writing.

Did we read any of the same books?

Titles are Amazon affiliate links and my available reviews are linked.


 Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

4.5 Stars. Contemporary YA Fiction. Poignant themes of found family, loss of a parent, grief, and siblings. My full review here.


The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

4 Stars. (ARC) Historical Fiction. 1945 post WW11 England. Not Yet Reviewed.


Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

4 Stars. Contemporary YA Fiction. Innocent and sweet romance and a twitter war in this “You’ve Got Mail meets Tell Me Three Things meets With the Fire on High” story. My full review here.


Red Sky Over Hawaii by Sara Ackerman

4 Stars. (ARC) WW11 Historical Fiction with a generous side of “cowboy romance.” Review coming soon.

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Blog Audit Challenge 2020: May #blogauditchallenge2020

May 30, 2020

May’s Blog Audit Challenge 2020

Blog Audit Challenge 2020 (picture of a woman's hands on the keyboard of a laptop)Blogging Friends,

This year I’m participating in Blog Audit Challenge 2020 hosted by Jo Linsdell. The plan is to work on making our blogs even better and setting our goals for the coming months. Each month will have its own challenge to work through. Join us!

 I hope that if you are reading this that you continue to be well and that your area is starting to open up for business with social distancing precautions.

May’s Challenge focuses on Search Engine Optimization (SEO):

SEO is something I continue to work on, and I find it becomes more routine over time. Keywords are a critical component of SEO.

1. Key Words in Headlines

  • Key words are the words that individuals put in the search bar to search for content.
  • Key words are the most important component of SEO.
  • Identifying key words is a critical first step in creating content. Think about what people would search for in order to find your content. Various apps are available to help you find optimal key words. I have never used this option, so I  can’t offer a recommendation. A search on Pinterest will result in more articles than you could ever use on SEO and Key Words.
  • Reviewing books makes the selection of key words easier because the book title in my heading is also my key word(s).
  • In addition to showing up in the title of the post, key words need to appear (naturally) throughout the content of the post. At first, it was easy to include my key word(s) in my post title but I had to make a conscious effort to sprinkle the key words throughout the content. So in place of using a term like “this book,” I had to form the habit of replacing these phrases with the book title. Using key words becomes even more effective when you can use them in subheadings.

2. Labels, Tags, and Descriptions

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Tweet Cute [Book Review]

May 29, 2020

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Tween Cute by Emma Lord (cover) Image: two apartment buildings with a teen in each using social media on their phones

Genre/Categories: YA Contemporary Fiction, Family Life, YA Romance, YA RomCom

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

You’ve Got Mail meets Tell Me Three Things meets With the Fire on High…

grilled cheese sandwichThe setting is New York City. Pepper (Patricia) is the swim team captain at her private school, achievement-focused, and a perfectionist. Her family owns a large fast-food burger chain, and Pepper runs the twitter account. Jack is a classmate and fellow swim team member. He secretly develops apps, enjoys being a class clown, and experiences episodes of sibling rivalry with his twin brother. Jack’s family owns a small downtown deli. A few things happen to put the story in motion: the big burger chain copies (steals) Jack’s family’s grilled cheese sandwich, a twitter war ensues that Jack and Pepper instigate and fuel, and Jack and Pepper find themselves becoming close friends on the school’s app where identities remain anonymous.

My Thoughts:

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Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

May 28, 2020

Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin
#throwbackthursday

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of a favorite memoir, Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin….nostalgic, thoughtful, and memorable nonfiction.

If you are missing baseball this season because of Covid-19, this book might be for you!

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin (cover) Image: an empty professional baseball stadium

Genre/Categories: Nonfiction, Memoir, Biography, Baseball, Nostalgia,

My Summary:

“From loyal baseball fans, the refrain “Wait Until Next Year!” can often be heard after suffering a disappointing loss. In fact, it was after the Dodgers’ loss in Game 7 of the recent World Series that a fan vehemently shouted these exact words captured by a reporter’s microphone and camera. At that time, I was reminded of Goodwin’s Wait Till Next Year that had been on my TBR list for some time and which had been declared one of my husband’s favorite reads last year. In honor of the recent, well-played, and highly spirited 2017 World Series, I decided it’s timely to read and review this popular memoir.

In Wait Till Next Year, Doris tells of meeting baseball heroes, of nail-biting games, of having to confess at Confession that she wished the other team’s players would be injured so Dodgers could win, of the exciting World Series win in 1955, and of her sorrow as the Dodgers left Brooklyn in 1957.  She was so devastated by the loss of her team that she avoided baseball for years after the Dodgers left, and when she was convinced as a young adult to attend a Red Sox game, she transferred her loyalties, started keeping score again, and passed on her love of the game to her son. In addition to the loss of the Dodgers, she also tells of the loss of her mother at an early age.”

Nostalgic, family-centered, and loads of fun for baseball fans …..

Continue reading my review of Wait Till Next Year to see what I loved.

QOTD: Have you read Wait Till Next Year or is it on your TBR?

If you’re thinking ahead for Father’s Day, this might be a great gift for a baseball fan!

Ten Favorite Book Quotes #toptentuesday

May 26, 2020

Ten Favorite Book Quotes

Are You a Quote Collector?

Of all the amazing book quotes I’ve collected over the years, I can only remember a few. I had a collection of my favorite quotes in an electronic file, and then I lost the file in a computer crash. I need to rebuild my file, and these are the ten I can remember loving!

Do you have a favorite book quote?

Top Ten Tuesday (meme)

I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl for TTT. I guess I totally flaked on this week’s topic because I wrote it in my calendar as ten favorite quotes and when I went to link up, I realize that’s not the topic! Oh well….I’ll consider this a tweek because it’s all I’ve got!

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

~ The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“Real isn’t how you are made. It’s a thing that happens to you. when a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with but REALLy loves you, then you become Real…”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all because once you are Real, you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

~The Velveteen Rabbit, Margery Williams

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”

~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer

“Courage, Dear Heart.”

~Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C.S. Lewis

“Frankly, My Dear, I don’t give a damn.”

“After all, tomorrow is a better day.”

Classic quotes from Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara (respectively)
~Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchel

“Dear Old World,” she murmured, “you are very lovely and I’m glad to be alive in you.”

~Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery

These four sentences, when easily said, lead to wisdom: “I’m sorry. I was wrong. I don’t know. I need help.”

~Still Life, Louise Penny

“What we carry defines who we are and the effort we make is our legacy.”

~Finding Chika, Mitch Albom

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely, or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature, and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be.”

~The Diary of Anne Frank, Anne Frank

“There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart.”

~Emma, Jane Austen

My friend Carla @ Carla Loves to Read created a top ten list of quotes from children’s books! Check it out!

What is one of your favorite quotes?



QOTD:

Please share your favorite quote in comments!



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“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



ICYMI:

Ten Reasons Why I Love Middle-Grade Books

Top Ten Signs That I’m a Book Lover

 Why getting lost in a book is so good for you according to science!



Let’s Get Social!

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

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



***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.

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/or author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

© ReadingLadies.com

Clap When You Land: [Book Review]

May 22, 2020

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo (cover) Image: split image of two young Hispanic girl

Genre/Categories: YA contemporary fiction, novel in free verse, family secrets, siblings, grief, diversity

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Papi and his two families…

Papi spends summers in the Dominican Republic with his daughter, Camino, and her aunt who is Camino’s guardian since Camino’s mother died. Papi spends the remainder of the year in New York City with his wife and daughter, Yahaira. Camino and Yahaira do not know about each other and they both love their Papi. One day, Papi’s plane crashes as he’s on his way to the Dominican Republic and the girls find out about each other. Should they get acquainted? Should they even meet? Can they become true sisters? Can the families forgive Papi and embrace new family members?

In case you might want to know, Acevedo always includes LGBTQ representation in her stories.

My Thoughts:

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Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

May 21, 2020

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig
#throwbackthursday

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of a YA favorite, Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig. It’s an engaging, page-turning, and memorable read.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

GinnyMoon by Genjamin Ludwig (cover) Image: a girl holding a red backpack stands in an open grassy field with one lone tree in the background)

Genre/Categories: YA/Adult crossover contemporary fiction, coming of age, Autism, family life, differing abilities, adoption

My Summary:

“Ginny is fourteen, adopted, a child on the spectrum, and is committed to saving her “baby doll.” In her fourth home since having been removed from her biological mom’s care, she has now been adopted by her “forever mom” and “forever dad.” For years, Ginny has been troubled about something that happened the night she was taken away from her biological mom and cannot think about anything else until she makes it right. Her “forever” parents and her counselor don’t seem to understand the extent of Ginny’s commitment or her concern, so Ginny is left with no choice but to attempt an escape.”

Engaging, Page-turning, and Memorable…..

Continue reading my review of Ginny Moon to see what I loved….

QOTD: Have you read Ginny Moon or is it on your TBR?

10 Reasons Why I Love Middle-Grade Books #toptentuesday #middlegrade

May 19, 2020

Top Ten Reasons Why I Love Middle-Grade Books

Definition of Terms: Middle Grade Reader & Middle Grade Student

∗ A Middle-Grade Reader (ages 8-12) ≠ A Middle-Grade Student (grades 7-9)

These terms can be confusing. A Middle-Grade student (grades 7-9) is truly caught between groups and can read MG or YA. However, most YA (ages 13-18) is geared toward high school and is too mature for younger middle-grade readers who are 8-12 or middle-grade students who are in grades 7-9. There’s a vast difference between an eight-year-old reader and a twelve-year-old reader. Some middle-grade books are geared toward younger readers (e.g. Wishtree), and some authors such as Alan Gratz write for the more mature middle-grade reader (e.g Refugee).

∗ Middle-Grade Fiction is Typically Read by Readers Between Eight and Twelve Years Old.



I predict that either you read Middle-Grade Books or you don’t!

Middle Grade is a genre that you either embrace or avoid!

What say you?

Are you onboard with MG reading or are you standing on the sidelines?

I’m here to persuade you to try MG lit if you haven’t or to remind you why you love it.

Top Ten Tuesday (meme)

I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl for TTT: Top Ten Reasons Why I Love _____ . My focus is Ten Reasons Why I Love Middle-Grade Books.

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

1
Hope

Typically, Middle-Grade reads avoid content that includes graphic violence, sexual situations, and profanity. An unwritten expectation for middle-grade reads is that, despite dire circumstances, they are infused with hope and have hopeful endings. A few examples include Louisana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo (scroll down page for review), More to the Story by Hena Khan (Goodreads Review), and Wishtree by Katherine Applegate (Goodreads Review).

2
Complex Issues

One of the main reasons I love reading middle-grade books is that they can address complicated and difficult issues in an easy-to-understand and sensitive way. It’s a great introduction to heavier content. A few examples include Jefferson’s Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradly (slavery), Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed (indentured servitude, education for girls), The War That Saved My Life/The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradly (WW11), Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper (racism, prejudice), Refugee (12+) by Alan Gratz (refugee crisis), Wonder by R.J. Palacio (physical differences), Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai (scroll down page for review) (immigrant, bullying), El Deafo by Cece Bell (hearing impairment), Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate (scroll down page for review) (homelessness), Front Desk by Kelly Yang (Goodreads Review) immigrant), Merci Juarez Changes Gears (Goodreads Review) (Alzheimer diagnosis), Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (prejudice)…and so many more.

3
Read in a Day

Most middle-grade reads can be read in a day by most adults. So if it’s December 28 and you’re a few books shy of meeting your year-end-challenge goal, pick up an easy reading middle-grade title such as The Vanderbeeker’s of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glasser, El Deafo by Cece Bell, or Wishtree by Katherine Applegate (Goodreads Review).

4
Conversation Starter

Instead of commenting on a girl’s beautiful dress, stunning nail color, or unique hairstyle or asking a boy if he is on a soccer team, try asking a middle-grade reader what book s/he is reading in class right now. You might be able to make a connection with that book or recommend a similar book and you’re off to an interesting discussion!

5
Palate Cleanser or Reading Slump Buster

After reading several heavy histfic books (just me?), intense thrillers, or dense nonfiction, you might be feeling burned out. A fast and engaging middle-grade read can jump-start your reading or give you the change of pace you are needing! I often use this strategy when I’m feeling ambivalent about choosing my next read.

6
Thoughtful Gift

Do you remember a book you received from a teacher or family member? I still remember the books I received! (I was the one that spent my entire winter break reading my new book!) Choosing the perfect book for someone is a thoughtful gift and is my favorite one-stop-shopping hack! A personal inscription and special bookmark can complete the gift.

7
Catch Up On a Popular Read

A great reason to read middle-grade books is to catch up on popular books you might have missed reading when you were in school. Have you read Chronicles of Narnia, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Bud Not Buddy, Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, Bridge to Terabithia, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, By the Great Horn Spoon, Wonder, Where the Red Fern Grows, Brown Girl Dreaming, The Secret Garden, The One and Only Ivan, etc? What book do you wish you had read when you were 8-12?

8
Quality Time

Children spell love T I M E.

Setting up a “buddy read” with your child, grandchild, niece, or nephew is one way to spend quality time with a child. To discuss the book, you might take the child to lunch or to get ice cream or set up a Zoom meet up. A buddy read doesn’t have to be extra reading outside of school. You could simply read the same book as s/he is reading in school so that you can ask questions about it. Reading books together leads to grand discussions about the most amazing topics/issues! I love that through reading, important and relevant issues come up naturally.

9
Important Conversations

What I love (and miss) most about teaching fifth grade is that I could have the best conversations with my budding abstract thinkers! Middle-grade readers (8-12) are ready to think about the world and their place in it. Through reading, children gain experience with different cultures, perspectives, and issues. I love the diversity now offered in children’s literature. Reading builds compassion and understanding. For instance, if your child’s classroom has a student who is hearing challenged, you could read El Deafo together.

10
Make a Difference

If you work with children, have children, or know children in the 8-12-year-old range, reading middle-grade books will help you connect with them! If you are a pediatrician, nurse, dentist, hygienist, teacher, aide, Sunday school teacher, piano teacher, counselor, social worker, caregiver, nanny, or work with middle-grade readers in any way, reading what they are reading will help build connections, promote literacy, and WILL make a difference.

Inspirational story: A member of our family took her baby to the doctor for her one-year checkup and the pediatrician said, “You need to read ten books every day to your baby!” Yay, doctor!Thanks for promoting literacy at a one-year-old well-baby check!

Have I encouraged you to pick up a middle-grade read or do you already love middle-grade lit?



QOTD:

What is your favorite middle-grade title?

What is your favorite middle-grade read from your school days?



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“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



ICYMI:

10 Inspirational Reads For Middle-Grade March

Top Ten Signs That I’m a Book Lover

 Why getting lost in a book is so good for you according to science!



Let’s Get Social!

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

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



***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.

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/or author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

© ReadingLadies.com

 

And They Called It Camelot: [Book Review]

May 15, 2020

And They Called It Camelot by Stephanie Marie Thornton

And They Called It Camelot by Stephanie Marie Thornton (cover) Image: Jack and Jackie Kennedy sit in a sailboat on a calm ocean

Genre/Categories: Biographical Historical Fiction, First Lady, U.S. History

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

And They Called it Camelot is an imagined and candid portrait of the life of first lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy (Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis) from the time of her engagement to (President) John F. Kennedy to after the death of Aristotle Onassis. In particular, it’s the story of a determined and dignified “Jackie O” picking up the pieces of her life and finding her voice over and over again.

My Thoughts:

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