Reading Memories and a Review: One-In-A-Million Boy #throwbackthursday

March 12, 2020

One-In-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

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 short review of One-In-a-Million Boy and personal reading memories. Enjoy!

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

One-In-A-Million Boy by Monica Wood (cover)

Genre/Categories: fiction, family

My Summary:

A unique 11-year-old boy is sent to help 104-year-old Ona every Saturday morning as part of a community service project. As he refills the bird feeders and helps with other odd jobs, he and Ona share cookies and milk and Ona tells him about her long life. He records her responses as part of a school interview project.

One Saturday, the boy doesn’t show up. Ona starts to think he’s not so special after all, but then his father arrives on her doorstep, determined to finish his son’s good deed….

Click here to continue reading my review and I also share a few reading memories….

QOTD: Have you read One-In-a-Million Boy or is it on your TBR?

1st Line/1st Paragraph: American Dirt

 March 10, 2020

1st Line/1st Paragraph

I’m linking up this week with Vicki @ I’d Rather Be At The Beach who hosts a meme every Tuesday to share the First Chapter/First Paragraph of the book you are currently reading.

Open book on the sand with a blurred out ocean background: words: First Chapter, First Paragraph, Tuesday Intros

I’m pleased to share the first paragraph of American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

Is this on your TBR or have you read it?

Amazon Summary:

“Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.

Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy―two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia―trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?

American Dirt

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins (author)

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Migrants, Hispanic

1st Line/1st Paragraph From Chapter One:

“One of the very first bullets comes in through the open window above the toilet where Luca is standing. He doesn’t immediately understand that it’s a bullet at all, and it’s only luck that it doesn’t stike him between the eyes. Luca hardly registers the mild noise it makes as it flies past and lodges into the tiled wall behind him. But the wash of bullets that follows is loud, booming and thudding, clack-clacking with helicopter speed. There is a raft of screams, too, but that noise is shortlived, soon exterminated by the gunfire. Before Luca can zip his pants, lower the lid, climb up to look out, before he has time to verify the source of that terrible clamor, the bathroom door swings open and Mami is there.”

There is a great deal of controversy surrounding American Dirt because it wasn’t written by an “own voices” author. Some reviewers support a boycott and others encourage reading it and have given it excellent reviews. Well aware of the controversy, my IRL book club elected to read it. In case you’re interested, here are two links that discuss the controversy from different perspectives:

American Dirt Controversy Explained

To Read or Not to Read


Is American Dirt on your TBR?

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

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10 Inspirational Reads For Middle Grade March

March 9, 2020

10 Inspirational Reads For Middle Grade March

(top view) picture of a middle grade child reading on a recliner covered with a reddiish knitted afghan

Image Source: Canva

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

To participate in #middlegrademarch, I’ve compiled a list of ten (plus!) great Middle-Grade reads! There are many wonderful middle-grade books from which to choose and even though I haven’t read extensively in middle grade, these titles are stories that I’ve recently read and thought were exceptional because of their themes and/or diversity.

Often, children fall in love with reading in Middle Grade. Was this your experience? Children in Middle Grade have “learned to read” and they can fully immerse themselves in the world of words as they “read to learn” and “read for enjoyment.” They have more autonomy to choose their own reading material and can pursue individual interests. Many stories promote great family read-aloud experiences (or buddy reads). As a bonus, most Middle-Grade stories have heartfelt themes without the angst and/or objectionable language of YA. Reading builds understanding and compassion.

What theme do you think Middle Grade books have in common?

For adults, Middle-Grade books make the perfect palate cleanser or fit the description of books that can be read in a day. If I’m feeling in a reading “funk,” I often seek out a recommended Middle Grade read to stimulate my reading life once again. I love that Middle-Grade books almost always end on a hopeful note. This theme of hopefulness is one of the main reasons I love reading in the Middle-Grade genre. I strongly believe that great Middle-Grade literature can be enjoyed by adults!

In addition to all the above reasons to read Middle-Grade literature, I appreciate the authors who write diversely for Middle-Grade readers and write on difficult themes or topics in an easy to read and understandable manner. If we buy and read more Middle-Grade diverse literature, it will encourage publishers and writers to produce more. I think it’s important for children to see themselves in literature.

Middle-Grade Literature

(in no particular order)


#6Degrees of Separation: From Wolfe Island to…

March 7, 2020

 #6Degrees of Separation: From Wolfe Island to…

A collage of all titles

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

#6Degrees of Separation: from Wolfe Island by Lucy Treloar to The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Daré.

#6Degrees is a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. I’ve seen this meme around for a while and a recent post by Davida at The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog inspired me to give it a try this year! Making connections between books is challenging, creative, and fun!

Each month a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain. The rules are:

  • Link the books together in any way you like.
  • Provide a link in your post to the meme at Books are My Favourite and Best.
  • Share these rules in your post.
  • Paste the link to your post in the comments on Kate’s post and/or the Linky Tool on that post.
  • Invite your blog readers to join in and paste their links in the comments and/or the Linky Tool.
  • Share your post on Twitter using the #6Degrees hash tag.
  • Be nice! Visit and comment on other posts and/or retweet other #6Degrees posts.

Play Along?

This month’s prompt starts with Wolfe Island by Lucy Treloar

Wolfe Island by Lucy Treloar (cover)

Wolfe Island by Lucy Treloar is a book I have not heard about, but it sounds like one I might be interested in adding to my TBR.

Amazon Summary: “For years Kitty Hawke has lived alone on Wolfe Island, witness to the island’s erosion and clinging to the ghosts of her past. Her work as a sculptor and her wolfdog Girl are enough. News of mainland turmoil is as distant as myth until refugees from that world arrive: her granddaughter Cat, and Luis and Alejandra, a brother and sister escaping persecution. When threats from the mainland draw closer, they are forced to flee for their lives. They travel north through winter, a journey during which Kitty must decide what she will do to protect the people she loves.

Part western, part lament for a disappearing world, Wolfe Island (set off the northeast coast of the US) is a transporting novel that explores connection and isolation and the ways lives and families shatter and are remade.”

The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister (cover)First Degree. From the summary, the remote and isolated island location in the northeast coast of the U.S. immediately reminds me of the remote island (also located along the northeast coast of the U>S.) in The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister.

My Summary: Emmeline lives on a small isolated and remote island with her father. They function as survivalists by foraging and growing their own food. Even though Emmeline and her father are isolated, the father has a contact who arrives by boat and occasionally delivers items that can’t be acquired on the island. Emmeline’s father teaches her about the natural world through her senses. Emmeline’s world is filled with love and security and it’s all she knows. Her father also has a mysterious machine that creates or captures scents (similar to a Polaroid camera), and he has scents stored in drawers that line the walls of their cabin. Although she’s curious about the scents, her father doesn’t offer a great deal of explanation. One day, Emmeline is forced out into the real world beyond the sanctuary of her island. She sets out on a quest to understand the life her father created for them, her father’s reasons, and the secrets he safeguarded. My Review.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (cover)Second Degree: Although not as remote, the atmospheric setting and a young girl on her own reminds me of the southern swamp setting in Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. In both survival stories, young girls are left to fend for themselves.

My Summary: Living in the marsh outside a quiet, small town on the coast of North Carolina, Kya Clark, later known as the “Marsh Girl,” is abandoned by her entire family and learns to survive in the marsh on her own from the age of ten. One by one her older siblings abandon the family, her mother leaves when Kya is about seven, and finally her father, a difficult, unreliable, and drunk man, leaves when she’s ten. Kya attends school for one day after a truant officer catches her. On that day, she is teased by the students, knows she’s hopelessly behind academically, and never returns. Preferring the isolation and safety of the marsh, she learns what she can through observing nature. Although she can survive on her own, she begins to long for companionship as she reaches her teen years. Two boys from town attract her attention. One of them turns up dead, and she is suspected of murder. The other becomes a life long supporter and friend. A coming of age story with a fair share of tragedy, mystery, and grit, this is an unforgettable read you’ll want to devour and recommend. My Review.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (cover)Third Degree: Connecting to these strong themes of isolation and survival, I’m reminded of The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. This young girl is not on an island and is not on her own, but the family is isolated in Alaska and the young girl is faced with physical as well as emotional survival.

My Summary: The Great Alone is a story about a dysfunctional family that eventually moves to the harsh wilderness of Alaska to make a fresh start. In this page turner by Kristin Hannah (author of the Nightingale), thirteen-year-old Leni watches her gentle and artistic mother struggle to live a happy and secure life with her father, a Vietnam War vet, who suffers from PTSD.  A survivalist, her father becomes more paranoid and controlling as the story progresses. ***trigger warnings for emotional and physical abuse***  Leni, struggling to stay in school and walking on egg shells around her father, is also concerned about her mother and about their general well-being as the dark winter and isolation of the Alaskan wilderness cause her father’s symptoms to worsen. The first part of the story is slower paced and devoted to establishing a sense of place, character development, and a slow build up of the problem. The last part of the story  unfolds at a rapid pace and there are attempts to escape and confrontations. Some have commented that the ending is tied together easily, quickly, and conveniently. This didn’t bother me too much because rapid emotional plot twists are Kristin Hannah’s style and part of me was eager and relieved to have closure to Leni’s story.  If you’re looking for an engaging page turner with an Alaskan wilderness setting, this is a good selection to meet that criteria. My Review.


This Won’t End Well: A Review

March 6, 2020

This Won’t End Well by Camille Pagán

This Won't End Well (cover) .... a young woman peeking through some bushes

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Women’s Fiction

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Thank Jaymi @ Orange County Readers for the free copy! All opinions are my own.


No new people….

In the long tradition of other beloved, quirky characters, Annie Mercer feels best when she limits her interactions with new people. As a scientist, she analyzes her life experiences through the lens of science. Suddenly her organized life is turned upside down: she loses her job, curiosity about a new neighbor consumes her, her fiance takes a leave of absence, and a personable and charismatic private investigator surprises her. Ultimately Annie is faced with some big, life-changing decisions.

My Thoughts:


Hillbilly Elegy #throwbackthursday

March 5, 2020

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

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 starting with my review of Hillbilly Elegy. Enjoy!

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance (cover)

Genre/Categories: memoir, nonfiction, biography, sociology, poverty

My Summary:

Hillbilly Elegy is a thought-provoking, powerful, and sincere memoir about growing up in a white working-class family in a poor Rust Belt town in Ohio. A Yale Law School graduate and a former marine, J. D. Vance is originally from Kentucky’s Appalachia region. His grandparents who were “dirt poor and in love” moved the family to Ohio in the hopes of escaping devastating poverty. Throughout the memoir, we learn that despite a geographical move, the family was never able to entirely escape the hillbilly culture of alcoholism, poverty, abuse, and trauma. Even though J. D. Vance beat the odds and graduated from law school, he still struggles to come to terms with his chaotic family history. The memoir is filled with detailed, humorous, dramatic, and colorful examples of what his life was like.

Favorite Quote:

“I want people to understand what happens in the lives of the poor and the psychological impact
that spiritual and material poverty has
on their children.”

Click here to continue reading my review….

QOTD: Have you read Hillbilly Elegy or is it on your TBR?

Rust: A Memoir of Steel and Grit: A Review

March 3, 2020

Rust: A Memoir of Steel and Grit by Eliese Colette Goldbach

Rust: A Memoir of Steel and Grit by Eliese Colette Godbach (cover)

Genre/Categories: Nonfiction, Memoir, Unions, Steel

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


Thanks #netgalley #flatironbooks for a free E ARC of #rustamemoirofsteelandgrit in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Eliese shatters the stereotype…….Have you ever thought of a steelworker as a college-educated, twenty-something female?

For Eliese, the “stinky” local steel mill in Cleveland, Ohio represents everything from which she is trying to escape. Although it was never her dream job, practicality demands that she needs job security and a good salary. In Rust, Eliese shares about her childhood, her Christian roots and parents’ values, applying to the mill, receiving a good paycheck, facing daily danger in the mill, forming unexpected friendships, working and maintaining relationships with mental illness, gender equality, and an abundance of political opinions.

My Thoughts:


Women’s History Month 2020: 10 Inspirational Reads

March 2, 2020

Women’s History Month 2020: 10 Inspirational Reads

Six young women standing on a bluff with itheir hands on the shoulders of the girl in front of her ... all facing sideways looking at the ocean

Do You Need a Reading Idea for Women’s History Month?

Inspired by Women’s History Month, which was established to amplify women’s voices and value their contributions to history, I searched through my reading lists to find stories about inspirational women whom we can celebrate during Women’s History Month.

Historical Fiction is filled with inspirational women; some are actual historical figures and others are fictional characters who lived during a certain historical time period. For this list, I’ve chosen stories about real women in history. Titles are Amazon links and my available reviews are linked.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

In no particular order….

Resistance Women by Jennifer Chiaverini

Resistance Women by Jennifer Chiaverini (cover)

Brave women in the German resistance movement before and during WW11. (histfic) Full Review Here

Ribbons of Scarlet by Kate Quinn et al.

Ribbons of Scarlet by Kate Quinn et al. (cover)

Seven brave women of the French Revolution. (histfic) Full Review Here.

Learning to See by Elise Hooper

Learning to See by Elise Hooper (cover)

The fictionalized biographical history of photographer Dorothea Lange. Full Review Here.

My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie (cover)

This fictionalized biographical narrative of Eliza Hamilton reveals her vital contributions to U. S. History in her role as Mrs. Alexander Hamilton. Full Review Here

America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie (cover)

This fictionalized biographical narrative of Patsy Jefferson reveals her important role in the presidency of Thomas Jefferson and her contribution to her father’s overall health, well being, and success. Full Review Here