May 2020 Reading Wrap Up

May 31, 2020

May 2020 Reading Wrap Up

May Reading Wrap Up (collage of book covers)

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

What Was Your Favorite May Read?

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

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

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

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

Did we read any of the same books?

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


 Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

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


The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

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


Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

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


Red Sky Over Hawaii by Sara Ackerman

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

(more…)

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

May 19, 2020

Top Ten Reasons Why I Love Middle-Grade Books

Definition of Terms: Middle Grade Reader & Middle Grade Student

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

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

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



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

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

What say you?

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

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

Top Ten Tuesday (meme)

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

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

1
Hope

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

2
Complex Issues

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

3
Read in a Day

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

4
Conversation Starter

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

5
Palate Cleanser or Reading Slump Buster

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

6
Thoughtful Gift

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

7
Catch Up On a Popular Read

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

8
Quality Time

Children spell love T I M E.

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

9
Important Conversations

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

10
Make a Difference

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

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

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



QOTD:

What is your favorite middle-grade title?

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



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

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

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

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

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



ICYMI:

10 Inspirational Reads For Middle-Grade March

Top Ten Signs That I’m a Book Lover

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



Let’s Get Social!

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

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

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

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

© ReadingLadies.com

 

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



Let’s Get Social!

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

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

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

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

© ReadingLadies.com

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

(more…)

#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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

#6Degrees of Separation: From Stasiland to…

April 4, 2020

 #6Degrees of Separation: From Stasiland to…

#6Degrees of Separation collage of covers

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Resistance!

#6Degrees of Separation: from Stasiland by Anna Funder to ….

#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 Stasiland by Anna Funder

Stasiland by Anna Funder (cover)

Stasiland by Anna Funder is a book I have not heard about, but it sounds like one I might be interested in adding to my TBR.

Amazon Summary: Anna Funder delivers a prize-winning and powerfully rendered account of the resistance against East Germany’s communist dictatorship in these harrowing, personal tales of life behind the Iron Curtain—and, especially, of life under the iron fist of the Stasi, East Germany’s brutal state security force. In the tradition of Frederick Taylor’s The Berlin Wall and Philip Gourevitch’s We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families, Funder’s Stasiland is a masterpiece of investigative reporting, written with novelistic vividness and the compelling intensity of a universal, real-life story.”

Goodreads Summary: In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell; shortly afterward the two Germanies reunited, and East Germany ceased to exist. In a country where the headquarters of the secret police can become a museum literally overnight, and one in 50 East Germans were informing on their countrymen and women, there are a thousand stories just waiting to get out. Anna Funder tells extraordinary tales from the underbelly of the former East Germany – she meets Miriam, who as a 16-year-old might have started World War III, visits the man who painted the line which became the Berlin Wall and gets drunk with the legendary ‘Mik Jegger’ of the East, once declared by the authorities to his face to ‘no longer to exist’. Written with wit and literary flair, Stasiland provides a riveting insight into life behind the wall.”

Ribbons of Scarlet by Kate Quinn et al. (cover)First Degree. From the summary of Stasiland, the topic of resistance immediately reminds me of the story of six real women in Ribbons of Scarlet: A Novel of the French Revolution by Kate Quinn et al.

My Summary: Liberty! Equality! Fraternity! Six masterful storytellers collaborate to share the experiences of seven unforgettable women of The French Revolution. During the Revolution, these courageous and determined women felt compelled to resist, to speak up, and to exert their influence wherever they could. Even though these are six separate stories, some passionate convictions and ideas connect them. My Review.

Resistance Women by Jennifer Chiaverini (cover)Second Degree: Another story of resistance is the story of Mildred Fish Harnack in Resistance Women by Jennifer Chiaverini.

My Summary: “Mildred Fish, an American College graduate, meets the love of her life, Arvid Harnack. After they fall in love, they marry and make their home in Arvid’s homeland of Germany. Mildred and Arvid thrive there, forming new friendships, and enjoying the intellectual and artistic offerings of 1930s Berlin. As Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party become more popular and powerful, Mildred and Arvid and their friends are compelled to resist. For years, Mildred and Arvid and their cohorts risk their lives to gather intelligence to bring down the Third Reich from within. Sadly, their sincere efforts don’t result in the help they desired or envisioned. This is a story of ordinary people who, while they should be enjoying their carefree youth, give their best efforts to fighting evil and saving their country.” My Review.

Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhon (cover)Third Degree: A book that I haven’t yet read but is high on my TBR and has the same strong themes of resistance is Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhon.

Amazon Summary: Code Name Hélène shares the story of the astonishing woman who killed a Nazi with her bare hands and went on to become one of the most decorated women in WWII.

Told in interweaving timelines organized around the four code names Nancy used during the war, Code Name Hélène is a spellbinding and moving story of enduring love, remarkable sacrifice and unfaltering resolve that chronicles the true exploits of a woman who deserves to be a household name.

It is 1936 and Nancy Wake is an intrepid Australian expat living in Paris who has bluffed her way into a reporting job for Hearst newspaper when she meets the wealthy French industrialist Henri Fiocca. No sooner does Henri sweep Nancy off her feet and convince her to become Mrs. Fiocca than the Germans invade France and she takes yet another name: a code name.

As LUCIENNE CARLIER Nancy smuggles people and documents across the border and earns a new nickname from the Gestapo for her remarkable ability to evade capture: THE WHITE MOUSE. With a five million franc bounty on her head, Nancy is forced to escape France and leave Henri behind. When she enters training with the Special Operations Executives in Britain, she is told to use the name HÉLÈNE with her comrades. And finally, with mission in hand, Nancy is airdropped back into France as the deadly MADAM ANDRÉE, where she claims her place as one of the most powerful leaders in the French Resistance, known for her ferocious wit, her signature red lipstick, and her ability to summon weapons straight from the Allied Forces. But no one can protect Nancy if the enemy finds out these four women are one and the same, and the closer to liberation France gets, the more exposed she–and the people she loves–will become.

(more…)

Lighter Reads During Stressful Times

April 3, 2020

Lighter Reads During Stressful Times

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Lately, have you found it difficult to focus on reading?

Do you have more difficulty than usual focusing on heavier reading material?

Reading can help pass the time when you’re confined to home and you’ve finished Netflix!

As COVID-19 escalated, so did the anxiety. March found me setting aside heavier reads and searching out easy, engaging, and light reads. I have heard the same sentiments from other reading friends across social media. This motivated me to consider creating a book list focusing on lighter reads! I pulled the following titles from my Goodreads “Read” shelf. I enjoy my lighter reads with a side of substance and low on steam, so these might not be as light or steamy as you’re looking for. Certainly, there are hundreds of titles that I haven’t read that can be added to this list. I can guarantee, though, that these titles do not come with serious trigger or content warnings. Check out the list, and let me know your favorite light reading recommendations in the comments.

I hope you are finding some comfort and distraction through reading during these worrisome times. Be safe everyone!

Titles are links to my blog or Amazon affiliate links.

Biographies/Memoirs

Birth and Other Surprises by Kimberly David Basso

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

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (a classic)

Inheritance by Dani Shapiro

I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Philpott

Complicated Families

The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal

Eden by Jeanine Blasberg

Hard Cider by Barbara Nemon

A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

Action/Adventure/Survival

The River by Peter Heller

Castle of Water by Dane Hucklebridge

Heartwarming Women’s Fiction

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March 2020 Reading Wrap Up

March 31, 2020

March 2020 Reading Wrap Up

March Reading Wrap Up (collage of book covers on a background of three leaf clovers)

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

What Was Your Best March Read?

Did March feel like the loooongest March on record to you?

March was a mixed results reading month with one five-star read and several three and four-star reads. I read a total of seven books. Find all my March 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 finished but that were not for me. One star reads are usually shelved as DNF or perhaps quickly scanned.

I’m guessing that most of us can relate to the reasons why March was a challenging reading month thanks to COVID-19. (On the subject, I found this video clip very helpful, reassuring, and comforting!) I thought at one point that we’d never reach the “reading wrap up” part of the month! Are you under orders to stay home where you live? I am, and the first week my reading suffered greatly. I had difficulty focusing, especially with my heavier content reads and ended up setting several aside. I finally picked up This Won’t End Well by Camille Pagán and its light subject matter and snappy writing immediately engaged me! I read it in one day and it jump-started my reading!

My favorite fiction read of the month is The Last Train to London by Meg Waite Clayton. (which I’m glad I read early in the month before my brain was preoccupied with COVID-19)

Did we read any of the same books?

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


 The Last Train to London by Meg Waite Clayton

5 Stars. Historical Fiction (WW11). An inspiring and memorable main character who worked with the Kindertransport that rescued children from Nazi-controlled Europe during WW11. My full review here.


The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate

4 Stars. (ARC) Historical Fiction (post Civil War South). I especially loved the present-day teacher timeline. My full review here.


This Won’t End Well by Camille Pagán

4 Stars. Contemporary Women’s Fiction. Quirky character + snappy writing = one great escapist read! My full review here.


What You Wish For by Katherine Center

3.5 Stars. (ARC) Contemporary Women’s Fiction (chick lit end of the spectrum) A school librarian main character for the win and a few poignant themes. Brief Goodreads review here. Blog review is scheduled for July 14, 2020 (pub date).

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10 Signs That I’m a Book Lover #toptentuesday

March 31, 2020

Top Ten Signs That I’m a Book Lover

10 Signs I'm A Book Lover (image: tall stack of books on a blue painted table)

Before we get to the book talk, I’m curious if you are in isolation at home due to Covid 19 or are you an essential worker? Most of my family and I are at home. We do have four essential workers (three medical) in our family that we cover in prayer. God Bless the nurses and doctors, grocery store staff, and other essential workers!

Honestly, it’s been a little difficult to read with an anxious mind. Have you been finding it difficult to focus on reading? How are you practicing self-care? I discovered that I need lighter reads right now which will likely play havoc with my Spring TBR. This Top Ten topic listing the obvious signs that I’m a book lover is interesting because I’m definitely well prepared for isolation. Stay safe everyone! Wash your hands and don’t touch your face!

Top Ten Signs That I’m a Book Lover

Top Ten Tuesday (meme)

I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl for TTT: Top Ten Signs I’m a Book Lover.

(listed in no particular order)

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You know I’m a Book Lover because the first question I’ll ask you is “What are you reading now?” or “What is the best book you’ve read this year?” or another book-related question. My favorite topic is books and I’m prepared to use extreme tactics to steer the discussion in that direction.

 

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You know I’m a Book Lover because you will always see me reading on my Kindle app in any waiting room or checkout line. I look forward to driving so that I can listen to an audio book. In fact, I’m never bored because I can always read!

 

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You know I’m a Book Lover because I stay up way too late reading (and writing reviews). An additional sign that I’m a Book Lover is that I love to read “books about books”!

 

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You know I’m a Book Lover because I think the book is better than the movie 99% of the time.

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You know I’m a Book Lover because I have a Bookstagram account on Instagram with over 1,000 bookish friends and scroll Goodreads twice a day.

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