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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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.

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.

 

 

 

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.

Bookish Gifts for Mom

May 4, 2018
(“May the 4th be with you!”)

mothers-day

Bookish Gift Ideas For Mom

If you’re fortunate to have your mom physically present with you this year and are looking for a bookish gift for Mother’s Day (or as a treat for your hard-working self!), check out my book and book related recs! The following titles represent some of my favorite reads (in addition to mostly recent releases, the list includes a few older titles as well). I’ve linked to my reviews as available….otherwise, I’ve provided Amazon links. If you have questions about any of the books, please ask in the comments and I’d be delighted to give you further information or perspective. Without knowing the person for whom you’re buying, the following recs are titles that are generally popular with lots of readers and the majority are written by women authors.
(I have avoided books that require trigger warnings)

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

candle for mom



Light Histfic Reads: (easy reading, engaging, minimal or no violence)

my dear hamilton 2My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
(biographical histfic, U. S. history)

America's First Daughter

America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
(biographical histfic, U.S. History)

last christmas in paris

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb
(epistolary format, WW1 time period)

As Bright as Heaven

As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner
(Spanish flu, mother/daughters)

Chilbury

Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan
(WW11)

Gilded Years

The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe
(biographical, first African-American woman to attend Vassar passing as white)

Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers

Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers by Sara Ackerman
(WW11 time period, Hawaii)

The Other Alcott

The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper
(for fans of Little Women)

Guernsey

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
(epistolary format, post WW11)

News of the World

News of the World by Paulette Jiles
(post civil war, southwest U.S.)



Multi-generational Family Saga:

Eden

Eden by Jeanne Blasberg



Heavier Histfic (more intense  content, survival themes)

Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
(WW11)

From Sand and Ash

From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon
(WW11)

we were the lucky ones

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter
(WW11)

Invention of Wings

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
(slavery, abolition)

Book Thief

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
(WW11)

The Baker's Secret

The Baker’s Secret by Stephen P. Kiernan
(WW11)

Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See
(China, adoption)

Pearl That Broke its Shell

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi
(Afghanistan, women’s rights)

Homegoing

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
(slavery, multigenerational)



Romantic

How to find love in a bookstore

How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry

(“Last Christmas in Paris” also fits in this category)



Unique and Interesting Characters

Eleanor Oliphant

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

man called ove

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

one in a million boy

The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

saving cecee honeycutt

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman



Memoir

Wait Till Next Year

Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin
(baseball and so much more)

talking as fast as i can

Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham
(humor, for fans of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood)



True Crime

Killers of the Flower Moon

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
(Crimes against Native American people)



Old Favorites

the hiding place

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
(WW11)

gift from the sea

Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
(inspirational)



Other Gift Ideas:

Give in Honor of Mom

Book Darts  $12

Carrot Top Paper Literary Artwork

The Novel Endeavor: Gift Giving Round Up for Book Lovers

Modern Mrs Darcy: Compulsively Readable Literary Fiction

GraceLaced Inspirational Watercolor Artwork

GraceLaced Inspirational Book at Hobby Lobby $14.99

Kindle Paperwhite E-Reader



Happy Reading & Gift Giving, 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



Sharing is Caring

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 your favorite gifts for Mom?

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.

April Wrap Up

April 30, 2018

April Wrap Up

April 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 trying something new (for me) and following in the footsteps of other bloggers at month’s end and presenting all of my April reading along with my star ratings. Seven of the ten I’ve reviewed on the blog and I’ll provide that link for you. Keep in mind that my 2 & 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.

(in order of my star ratings)

My Dear Hamilton (histfic) by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoi5+ stars

From Sand and Ash (histfic) by Amy Harmon  5 stars

Eden (family saga) by Jeanne Blasberg  4 stars 

Crenshaw (middle grade) by Katherine Applegat 4 stars

Rash (memoir) by Lisa Kusel  4 stars

White Rose, Black Forest (histfic) by Eoin Dempsey    3.5 stars

Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi Ever After (memoir) by Heather Harpham   3 stars

The Room on Rue Amelie by Kristin Harmel (histfic)  3 stars

Cafe By the Sea (chick lit) by Jenny Colgan  2.5  stars

Love Walked In (chick lit) by Maria de los Santos  2.5 stars

***The last two books are written by highly rated chick lit authors and have been enjoyed by many readers; however, it’s not my favorite genre (for Goodreads I did round them up to 3 stars).



Please share your April reads in the comments!



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 a few suggestions for Mother’s Day gifts.



Sharing is Caring

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 all about what you’ve read in April!

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Highly Rated WW1 and WW11 Reads

April 17, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Highly Rated WW1 and WW11 Reads

*Linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl for Top Ten Tuesday: Free Choice (check out her post for the top 10 books her mom loves!) and Words on Wednesday. If you’ve clicked over from either of those posts, Welcome! Please look around and enjoy your stay.

I read a lot of histfic and one of my favorite sub genres is WW1 and WW11 histfic. Listed below are 10 of my highest rated and favorite histfic reads (1 is nonfiction) that have also received high star ratings on Goodreads. In addition, I included some honorable mention because there are more than 10 reads that are memorable to me for various reasons. Not all titles are reviewed because I read them before writing publishing this blog (in which case I’ve provided the Amazon link).

Listed in order of their Goodreads star rating.

 

The NightingaleThe Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

WW11

 Amazon Information Here

My Rating: 4

Goodreads: 4.56



From Sand and AshFrom Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon

WW11

Full Review Here

My Rating: 5 (a recent favorite!)

Goodreads: 4.41



we were the lucky onesWe Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

WW11

 Full Review Here

My Rating: 5

Goodreads: 4.41



UnbrokenUnbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand

WW11 (nonfiction)

Amazon Information Here

My Rating: 5

Goodreads: 4.39



Salt to the SeaSalt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

WW11 (YA)

 Brief Review Here (scroll down page)

My Rating: 5

Goodreads: 4.36



Book ThiefThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak

 WW11 (YA)

 Amazon Information Here

My Rating: 5

Goodreads: 4.36



Lilac GirlsLilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

WW11

Amazon Information Here

My Rating: 5

Goodreads: 4.3



last christmas in parisLast Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor

WW1

Full Review Here

My Rating: 5

Goodreads: 4.18



The Baker's SecretThe Baker’s Secret by Stephen P Kiernan

WW11

Amazon Information Here

My Rating: 4

Goodreads: 4.04



Orphan's TaleThe Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff

WW11

Brief Review Here (scroll down page)

My Rating: 4

Goodreads: 4.01



Honorable Mention
(other favorites that might have been in my top 10 on a different day):

As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner (WW1 time period)

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer (post WW11 with flashbacks/memories of war)

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

The Soldier’s Wife by Margaret Leroy

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford (WW11 time period)



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



A Link I Love:

10 Ways To Woo a Reluctant Reader



Sharing is Caring

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 all about what you’re reading!

What are your favorite WW11 hisfic or nonfiction reads?

Have you read any of these titles? Which are your favorites?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most Compelling Characters of March

March 30, 2018

March Compelling Character

This month I’m choosing two most compelling characters: Leni from The Great Alone (fiction) and Tara from Educated: A Memoir (nonfiction). Leni and Tara share some similar struggles and challenges. The two stories reminded me at times of The Glass Castle (charismatic yet unpredictable fathers, unstable homes, neglect, poverty) and Hillbilly Elegy (chaotic family life, nurturing grandparents)….a fascinating book club discussion could be centered around discussing the connections between these books and characters.

I’d love to hear which characters you read about this month that were the most memorable for you. I’ve provided a link up or you can leave a comment.

 

Meet Leni and Tara:

For me, memorable characters who grow and change despite the obstacles make all the difference in a good story. Both Leni and Tara are my choices for this month’s most compelling characters because they share some experiences and traits that make them memorable. Both endure emotional and physical abuse (not sexual), yet despite difficult childhoods, they each rise above their circumstances. Surprisingly, they continue to love and show devotion for their parents (this struck me in The Glass Castle, as well). Leni and Tara share a drive to pursue an education and a desire to belong. In addition, they are determined, persistent, courageous, loyal, clever, and brave. Each girl feels threatened (one by her father and the other by her brother) and fears for her safety.  While Leni receives support from her small village community, Tara receives support from one brother, a BYU counselor, and some professors. Each girl is memorable in her grit, her ability to survive,and her drive to strive for something better in her life. These memorable characters allow me to rate both stories 4 Stars and to recommend these reads to others. ***Trigger warnings***

Tara’s words after dance class: “The other girls rarely spoke to me, but I loved being there with them. I loved the sensation of conformity. Learning to dance felt like learning to belong.”

Tara’s words about her abusive brother: “Shawn had more power over me than I could possibly have imagined. He had defined me to myself, and there’s no greater power than that.”

Brief Synopsis and Review of The Stories:

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. However, The Nightingale remains my favorite work by Kristin Hannah. My Rating for The Great Alone: 4 Stars. (March Amazon Rating  4.6 Stars)

Great Alone

Amazon Summary and Purchase Information Here

Educated is a memoir by Tara Westover.  Tara grew up as one of seven children in a Mormon family making their home in Idaho.  Both parents are devout Mormons; however, her father is an extremist, survivalist, and he isolates the family while stockpiling supplies, avoiding the government, and planning for worst case scenarios. ***Trigger Warnings*** While Tara’s soft-spoken mother makes healing herbs and ointments and practices midwifery, her charismatic father makes a living extracting and selling scrap from his junk yard. To avoid the government, the children do not have birth certificates, are not taken to the doctor, and most of them are home schooled, although according to Tara’s account, Mom’s interest for home schooling waned with the younger ones and to complicate the situation, Dad always needed help in the junk yard.  Tara wished she could go to school, and I didn’t receive the impression that her parents would have kept her from school, it’s that she suffered from not having the right clothes, feelings of not belonging, and often felt pressured to help her father in the junk yard. Over the years she experiences mental and physical abuse from one of her brothers, becomes more dissatisfied with her chaotic home life, and her desire for an education grows. With the encouragement of a brother, she decides to study independently for the ACT and apply to BYU. Thus begins her educational journey, her path of self-realization, healing, and ultimate separation from her family. Tara’s first classroom experience was at age 17. Readers will thoroughly understand and empathize with how difficult and emotional it was for her to  take these steps as she’s a loyal girl who feels a great duty to her family. Tara’s understanding of “education “ is that with it, one is able to gain one’s own perspective on life. Here is Tara’s interview with CNN. If you’re looking for a compelling memoir similar to The Glass Castle, you might enjoy this selection. My Rating for Educated: 4 Stars. (March Amazon Rating: 4.7 Stars).

Educated

Amazon Summary and Purchase Information Here



March’s Most Compelling Character Link Up

Please share your most memorable character from your March reading in the comments or link up your blog 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



Looking Ahead

I have several books on hold at the library (I’m #27 for The Force of Nature so that will be a while) and I’m waiting for kindle prices to fall on some new releases……consequently…….next Friday I’ll read and review a book already on my shelf, Eden by Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg (and check it off my winter TBR list).

Eden

Amazon Information Here

What are you reading this week?


Reading Podcasts I Love

Modern Mrs Darcy: What Should I Read Next

Read Aloud Revival (focus on children’s literature)

Reading Women (reviews of books written by women about women)



Extra:
Reading Recommendation For Middle Grade Girls Who Love Science!

Finding WondersFinding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science by Jeannine Atkins is a beautifully and creatively written middle grade story exploring the lives of 3 girls who are curious, love questions and the world around them, and are persistent in pursuing their love of science and scientific inquiries. Each woman makes important scientific contributions, and I loved reading about them and the context of their lives. I’m not sure middle grade students will read slowly enough to appreciate the beautiful prose and nuance/subtlety of language, so it might be a good “read together” book.

The author ensures that the girls exhibit some modern feminist thoughts that struck me as the author’s agenda rather than something girls in that era would usually think. However, these thoughts might provoke good conversation starters. For example: “But she hates embroidery, its worth measured by the smallness of stitches. A needle woman trains her eyes to stay cast down while hiding knots and boredom, committing herself to the circumference of a lap.”

An interesting extension read for adults might be The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe, a fictionalized biography of the first African-American woman (passing as white) to attend Vassar (same college where Maria Mitchell in Finding Wonders was a professor).

Finding Wonders is an interesting, creative, and worthwhile read. It makes me eager to read all the untold stories!  My Rating: 4 Stars

Amazon Summary and Purchase Information Here



Sharing is Caring

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 all about the most memorable character from your March reading!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Take Place in Another Country

March 27, 2018

10 Books That Take Place in Another Country

One of the joys of reading is that books take you to new places to experience different countries and cultures. Lately, I’ve enjoyed more diversity than ever in my reading selections. I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl for Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Take Place in Another Country. If you’ve clicked over from there, welcome! I hope you’ll take a look around!

This is a difficult category for me on this fine Tuesday because the majority of what I read is historical fiction which often takes place in other countries. While looking over my book list, I’ve chosen books in assorted genres with memorable settings that offer a deeper look into another culture and where the setting is an integral part of the story.

(in no particular order)

Pearl That Broke its ShellThe Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi
(Afghanistan)

Brief Review Here



RefugeeRefugee by Alan Gratz
(Syria, Germany, Cuba)

Review Here



Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See
(China)

Brief Review Here



Chilbury

Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan
(Chilbury, England)

Review Here



The Baker's Secret

Baker’s Secret by Stephen P. Kiernan
(Normandy Coast of France)

Amazon Summary and Information Here



Orphan's Tale

Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff
(Germany)

Brief Review Here



Salt to the SeaSalt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
(fleeing Europe on the Wilhelm Gustloff)

Brief Review Here



Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
and The Soldier’s Wife by Margaret Leroy
(Both on the Island of Guernsey)

Guernsey Information Here and The Soldier’s Wife Information Here



castle of water 2

Castle of Water by Dane Hucklebridge
(South Pacific Remote Island)

Review Here



The Dry

The Dry by Jane Harper
(Australia)

Brief Review Here



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 3/30 I’ll be offering a March Compelling Character Link Up. Think of a favorite character you’d like to share either in a blog post or a comment.

What are you reading this week?


Sharing is Caring

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 books you’ve read with memorable settings!