Celebrating Mothers Today

May 10, 2020

Happy U.S. Mother’s Day

To everyone who is celebrating!

 

mom and me mother's day

Mom and three-year-old me

 

Happy Mother's Day (Image: a heard made of roses)

 

If your mother is in Heaven or if you’ve lost a child, I pray that your memories will comfort you.

candle for mom

 

thinking of you on mother's day

Be good to yourself today, Friends.

 

Ten Book Recommendations For Mom or For Someone Who Has Been Like a Mom!

May 8, 2020

Is Your Mom a Reader?

Would your mom appreciate a book as a gift?
Are you looking for a book recommendation for your mom or for someone who has been like a mom to you?

I scoured my recently read books to find ten titles that I would buy for my own mom and would feel comfortable recommending for yours.

Ten Books Your Mom (or someone who has been like a mom to you) Might Enjoy:

A few of my favorite recommendations for mostly lighter reads that have wide appeal…

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links

The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay (contemporary fiction with a side of friendship)

The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay (cover)

This Won’t End Well by Camille Pagan (light contemporary fiction)

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

Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain (histfic with a side of mystery)

Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain (cover)

The Lovely War by Julie Berry (WW1)

Lovely War cover

Birth and Other Surprises by Kimberly Davis Basso (memoir, humorous essays)

Birth and Other Surprises by Kimberly Davis Basso (cover) Gold fancy writing on a white cover

The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali (histfic, love story)

The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali (cover)

The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall (faith, marriage, friendship)

Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall (cover)

If You Want to Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais (post-apartheid South Africa)

If You Want to Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais (cover)

Meet Me in Monaco by Hazel Gaynor (romantic histfic)

Meet Me in Monaco by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb (cover)

A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza (complicated family drama)

A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza (cover)

Related:
2019 list of book recommendations for Mother’s Day gifts here.



I hope you found a great title for gifting! Or maybe you found something for yourself!

Mom, I love (heart) You (Image: a lilac colored bucket filled with a variety of colored tupips and words attached to a ribbon))

 

Let's keep this candle burning for all the moms in Heaven this Mother's Day (image: a single burning candle)

 

six sentiments for mothers who have lost children or lost mothers or have strained relationships

 



 Let’s Discuss!

I’d love to know if you’re buying a book for mom this Mother’s Day.

Do you have a favorite title we can add to this list?



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



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***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 Covers are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

© ReadingLadies.com

#throwbackthursday Refugee by Alan Gratz [Book Review]

May 7, 2020

Refugee by Alan Gratz
#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 MG/YA read, Refugee by Alan Gratz.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Refugee by Alan Gratz (cover) Image: a small child with back to camera in a small red rowboat on a stormy ocean

Genre/Categories: Middle Grade through Adult, Historical Fiction, Global Issues, Refugees

My Summary:

“Refugee is the relevant story of the refugee experience from three unique perspectives:

  • 12/13-year-old Josef and family are Jewish and attempt to escape Nazi Germany in 1938 aboard a ship bound for a country(Cuba) that will accept them.
  • 12-year-old Isabel and family are Cuban and flee riots and unrest in Cuba in 1994 on a homemade raft pointed toward safety in Miami, Florida.
  • 12-year-old Mahmoud and family are Syrian and seek to escape war-torn Aleppo in 2015 and relocate to Germany.

Even though these families are separated by continents and decades, their stories share certain similarities. Each journey is fraught with harrowing adventures, frustration, courage, resiliency, heartache, injustice, persecution, dangers, children assuming adult roles and responsibility, loss of childhood innocence and joy, and loss of family members. However, the families have hope that drives them forward. Amazon Rating (May): 4.8 Stars (This is a very high rating in which 85% of the stars are in the 5 star category.)”

“See us, he thought. Hear us. Help us.”

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

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

Book Titles For Teacher Appreciation Week: Thank a Teacher!

May 5, 2020

Book Titles: Teacher Appreciation Week: Image: a teacher teaching a group of students as they siit on the jungle floor

Thank You, Teachers!

giphy

During U.S. Teacher Appreciation Week, I’m here to wholeheartedly thank teachers for their dedication, skills, and caring as well as to highlight a few books that feature teachers or the educational setting that have touched my heart.

Who was your most memorable teacher?

Mine is a college math teacher. When I returned to school as an adult to finish my degree and obtain my masters and teacher certification, one class I dreaded registering for was math. I developed a terrible math phobia in high school. I didn’t care about math like I cared about literature and grammar and diagramming and French…anything with words. As I started caring less and less about math, it became more difficult for me. Even though I finished my first two years of college right after high school, I avoided taking math classes. When I returned to higher education as a midlife adult to finish my undergrad coursework and obtain a teaching credential, I was faced with my old nemesis: the math hurdle. Of course, my prior grades and placement tests in math revealed that I had many gaps to fill and so I was required to take remedial math to build my skills. I was petrified. Not only did I have a math phobia, but now I had to take college-level math! Yikes! However, what I lack in math skills I make up for in perseverance and determination. So on the first day of college math class, I forced myself to sit in the front row. The teacher, knowing that the reason all of us were in the class was because we lacked foundational skills, informed us of the following: You CAN and WILL be successful if you follow these rules: 1. take detailed notes on every lesson even if you don’t understand it, 2. do your math homework every night and refer to the notes, and then do the homework over again without the notes, 3. before every test, redo all the homework and do the extra set of problems in the back of the book, and 4. be an active participant in class (sit close to the front, take notes, and ask questions). This sounded doable to me and I decided to TRUST the teacher and follow her guidelines for success. I loved her teaching style and the safe affect she created in the classroom. She explained everything in clear steps and didn’t assume we knew anything, plus she used different colored markers for each step (which really helped me as a visual learner). I did my part, too, and worked for hours every night on my math homework like it was my job! I ended up earning an A in the class and my self-confidence skyrocketed! As I often told my fifth-grade students when I was teaching, “Nothings makes you feel smarter than understanding math!”  Although I loved the entire fifth-grade curriculum, I always enjoyed teaching math because I KNEW how those struggling students felt, and I was determined to model my teaching after my favorite teacher as I created a safe environment for learning. Go figure that math is one of my favorite subjects to teach (well….not beyond fifth grade!) One of the BEST notes I ever received from a student said, “Thank you for being my teacher this year….now I’m not afraid of math anymore!” I melted into a puddle!

Thank you to ALL teachers who are proving safe learning environments and structuring opportunities for success for all students. You are celebrated, valued, and revered!

Do you have a favorite teacher story?

Have you thanked a teacher this week?

Teaching is a Work of Heart (image: apple plus text)

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Teachers and/or Education Related Stories

(the titles are linked to my reviews or to Amazon)

The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate

The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate (cover)

The Secret of Clouds by Alyson Richman

The Secret of Clouds by Alyson Richman (image: text written over a collage of bright colors)

What You Wish For by Katherine Center (school librarian)
(Goodreads Review)

What You Wish For by Katherine Center (cover) Image: bright flowers and the edge of a gold ferris wheel bordering a bright blue background

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#6Degrees of Separation: From The Road to…

May 2, 2020

 #6Degrees of Separation: From The Road by Cormac McCarthy to…

collage of titles mentioned in this post

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

The Journey!

#6Degrees of Separation: from The Road by Cormac McCarthy to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce.

#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 The Road by Cormac McCarthy….

The Road by Cormac McCarthy (cover) Image: footprints run vertically up the right side of the blue cover

The Road by Cormac McCarthy is a book I have not heard about even though it has won a Pulitzer Prize. Post-apocalyptic is not my preferred genre, so it’s not a surprise that it wasn’t on my radar. Because I don’t read in this genre, my chain will consist of books that include a road journey.

Amazon Summary: A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other.

The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, “each the other’s world entire,” are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.”

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins (author)First Degree. From the summary of The Road, I notice that a father and son (sustained by love) are journeying along a road toward a better future. This reminds me of American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins in which a mother and son embark on a treacherous journey to America in search of a new beginning.

My Summary: “Lydia, her journalist husband, and their young son live a comfortable, middle-class life in Acapulco, Mexico. Lydia and her husband are following their dreams: Lydia owns a bookshop while her husband writes investigative pieces that expose gang crime in the area. One day Lydia unknowingly befriends a charming bookshop customer who turns out to be the head of the newest drug cartel that has taken over the city. Her friendship with Javier sets in motion a tragic sequence of events that force Lydia and her eight-year-old son to flee for their lives as they undertake a journey by foot and rail to America.” My American Dirt review.

The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri (cover)Second Degree: Another story involving a journey is The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri. Here, Nuri and his wife, Afra, flee war-ravaged Syria in search of a safer life.

My Summary: “A compelling story of love, loss, hope, and compassion…Nuri, a beekeeper, and his wife Afra, an artist, live happily with their son in beautiful Aleppo. They enjoy a quiet and peaceful life and value the friendship of close friends and extended family. Suddenly, their lives are turned upside down by war and, out of desperation, they make a decision to flee Syria. What Afra has experienced and seen causes her to go blind, complicating their journey through Turkey and Greece to get to Britain. On this risky and uncertain journey, they must learn to survive in unpredictable situations, to deal with their loss, to trust each other, to depend on the kindness and compassion of strangers, and to keep their hope alive. My Beekeeper of Aleppo review.

The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate (cover)Third Degree: The next book to involve a journey is The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate. In dual timelines, the 1875 timeline follows three girls on a harrowing journey to Texas in search of an inheritance and a lost family.

My Summary: Searching for family… As “Lost Friends” advertisements appear in Southern newspapers after the Civil War, freed slaves desperately try to find loved ones who had been sold off. In 1875, three young girls from Louisiana set off on a perilous journey to Texas. Two of the girls are financially desperate and in search of their inheritance and the third is looking for her long lost family and helping others do the same. The present-day timeline takes place in Lousiana in 1987 as a young and inexperienced teacher lands her first job in a poor, rural community. Throughout the year, she discovers the story of the three girls from 1875 and their connection to her current students.” My The Book of Lost Friends review.

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Sea Wife [Book Review]

May 1, 2020
“May Day”

Sea Wife by Amity Gaige

Sea Wife by Amity Gaige (cover) Image: a lagoon in the foreground and ocean expanse in the background

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Family Life, Sea Life

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Thanks, #netgalley #knophpublishinggroup for granting my request for a free eARC of #seawife by Amity Gaige. All opinions are my own.

Juliet and Michael are disillusioned with work, life, and marriage for individual reasons, and even though they are novice sailors, they set out for a yearlong sailing venture with their two young children. Things are fine at first until the unexpected happens.

My Thoughts:

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April 2020 Reading Wrap Up

April 30, 2020

April 2020 Reading Wrap Up

Collage of titles for April Reading Wrap Up

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

What Was Your Best April Read?

April was a meh reading month with zero five-star reads, two four-star reads, and four three-star reads. In addition, I had two DNFs. I read a total of six books which puts me two behind the pace to meet my year-end challenge of 100 books.

Find all my April 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.

Because of COVID-19, I find that I don’t have the desire to keep up my usual pace or exert my usual effort. Are you under orders to stay home where you live? I am, and my reading has suffered greatly. I have difficulty focusing, especially with my heavier content reads or reads that are not quite right for me. Picking up a Middle Grade read with its light subject matter and snappy writing immediately jump-started my reading!

My favorite fiction read of the month is Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhon (even though it was heavier and grittier than anticipated)

Did we read any of the same books?

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


 Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhon

4.5 Stars. Historical Fiction (WW11). An inspiring and memorable main character who worked with the French Resistance. My full review here.


And They Called it Camelot by Stephanie Marie Thornton

4 Stars. Biographical Historical Fiction (U.S. History). Fascinating. Not Yet Reviewed.


Sea Wife by Amity Gaige

3 Stars. (ARC) Contemporary Women’s Fiction. Troubled relationships, suspense, and survival. My full review here.


A Hundred Suns by Karin Tanabe

3 Stars. (ARC) Historical Fiction (with a generous side of psychological thriller). Goodreads review here.

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#throwbackthursday Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng [Book Review]

April 30, 2020

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
#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 Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.

Little Fires Everywhere is now a movie adaptation on Hulu. Have you seen it?

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (cover) I/mage: birdseye view of a pristine upper class neighborhood

Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction

My Summary:

Shaker Heights, a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio (yes, it’s a real place), strives to be a perfect planned community. In the words of the author there is a “propensity to over achieve and a deep intolerance for flaws…a utopia.” Every winding road is thoughtfully laid out, the list of house colors is a strict, guideline, trash pickup is conducted in the alleys and all trash cans are out of sight, and tradition is revered and informs the future. Generations of Elena Richardson’s family have lived in Shaker Heights, and she ensures that her family follows the rules and lives up to expectations. All through her life she has followed the rules and this is wholeheartedly embraced as her highest value. Part of her personal code of following the rules is giving back to those that are less fortunate whenever she can, and she’s the type who keeps a mental list of her good deeds. Elena especially wants to use her inherited rental property near her home to benefit others. She earnestly seeks out renters that could gain from the advantage of living in her perfect neighborhood in Shaker Heights. Mia Warren, a free-spirited artistic non-rule follower, and her teenage daughter, Pearl, are the most recent beneficiaries of Mrs. Richardson’s benevolence. Although when Mia is less than grateful for Mrs. Richardson’s offer to buy one of Mia’s photographs, Elena Richardson makes a mental note and this slight continues to bother her and becomes motivation for her future relationship with Mia:

“That’s very generous of you,” Mia’s eyes slid toward the window briefly and Mrs. Richardson felt a twinge of irritation at this lukewarm response to her philanthropy.

As the story unfolds, the two families become more involved with each other rather than simply remaining tenant and landlord. Soon the children become friends, Pearl spends her afternoons at the Richardson home, and Mia accepts a part-time position as a light house keeper and cook for the Richardson family.  Izzy Richardson, a teenage child who shares Mia’s artistic interests and temperament, and Mia develop a close relationship while Izzy learns photography skills in Mia’s darkroom. When one of Mrs. Richardson’s best friends is in the process of adopting a Chinese-American child,  the community is divided on the ethical issues and Elena Richardson and Mia Warren find themselves on opposite sides of the custody battle between the birth mother and adoptive mother. This conflict triggers Mrs. Richardson to find out about Mia’s motivations, her secrets, and her mysterious past. All of this has devastating consequences for the two families.

Are you a rule follower or a free spirit? Do you believe that following all the rules will lead to a happy and successful life?

Continue reading my review of Little Fires Everywhere….

QOTD: Have you read Little Fires Everywhere or is it on your TBR?

Blog Audit Challenge 2020: April #blogauditchallenge2020

April 29, 2020

April’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 a 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!

Well….April continues to be a bit derailed due to Covid-19! I hope that if you are reading this that you are well.

April found me having difficulty reading books with heavier content and I had a serious case of the “blahs.” How about you? Doing any hard thinking is a discipline these days!

April’s Challenge is to focus on Design:

1. Images

In my first year of blogging, I discovered how important it is to have at least one Pinterest quality image in each blog post. Before that discovery, I simply used a book cover as an image. (I need to note here that I can’t stage photos with books because I read exclusively on the Kindle.) Now I use a book cover image that I grab from Amazon and “enhance” it. First I use the app PhotoGrid to add a background for the book cover. I save this image in PhotoGrid’s already squarish format. Next, I open Canva and use a template I created for Pinterest that has been designed for a square image and that has the Book Title at the top and my blog name at the bottom. I use this template over and over again and switch out the picture, color, and text. Here’s the last Pinterest image I created using PhotoGrid and my Canva Pinterest template:

Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhom (coveer)

In blog posts, I attempt to incorporate other images. For example, in my review of Code Name Helene, I also used a real-life picture of Helene. In addition, I always include an author’s photo.

I have a certificate from a community college in graphic design, so I’m familiar with using images in a layout. The creative use of images is an enjoyable aspect of creating a blog post.

Something new I’m experimenting with this year is using animated GIFs. I think it’s important not to overpower your content with gifs, so I use them sparingly.

As with any new element, there’s a learning curve and I had to experiment multiple times to master the process for using them in a WordPress post.

2. Optimize Images

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Where the Lost Wander [Review]

April 28, 2020

 Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon

Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon (cover) Image: Two covered wagons crossing a prairie

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Historical Western Romance/Love Story, Oregon Trail (U.S.History)

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Thanks, #netgalley #lakeunionpublishing for providing a free e ARC of #wherethelostwander by Amy Harmon in response to my request. All opinions are my own.

In 1853, newly widowed Naomi May sets out for the West with her family.  On the Oregon Trail which is filled with hardship, danger, and loss, she meets John Lowry. As the journey progresses and becomes more harrowing, they grow closer but their relationship is tested in intense and emotional ways.

My Thoughts:

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