September Wrap Up

September 30, 2018

September Wrap Up

september wrap up

I read nine books this month (most of them 4 star reads!) and abandoned one.

 As always, I’m not recommending all these books. Please carefully notice my Star ratings. Generally 4 & 5 Stars are highly recommended.

Listed in order of my Star ratings:

where the crawdads sing

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Fiction/Family Life
5 Stars. Full Review Here.


virgil wander

Virgil Wander by Leif Enger
(author of Peace Like a River)
Literary Fiction/Magical Realism
4.5 Stars. Review Here.


just mercy

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Nonfiction/Legal/Memoir/Biographical
4 Stars. Full Review Here.


the lost girls of paris

The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff
(author of The Orphan’s Tale)
WW11 Historical Fiction
4 Stars. GoodReads Review Here. Pub Date: 2/5/2019
(Free ARC in exchange for an honest review.)


lieutenant's nurse

The Lieutenant’s Nurse by Sara Ackerman
(author of Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers)
WW11 Historical Fiction
4 Stars. Review Here. Pub Date: 3/5/2019
(Free ARC in exchange for an honest review.)


hard cider

Hard Cider by Barbara Stark-Nemon
Women’s Fiction
4 Stars. Review Here.
(Free ARC in exchange for an honest review.)


dream daughter

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain
Science Fiction/Historical Fiction/Suspense/Family Drama
4 Stars. GoodReads Review Here. Pub Date: 10/2/2018
(Free ARC in exchange for an honest review.)


clock dance

Clock Dance by Anne Tyler
Women’s Fiction
3.5 Stars. Full Review Here.


to the moon and back

To the Moon and Back by Karen Kingsbury
Christian Fiction/Family Life
2.5 Stars. Not Reviewed.



Happy Reading Book Worms!

“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 Fall TBR

I’ll be updating my Fall TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often!



Looking Ahead:

I’m reading The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris.

tattooist of auschwitz



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 have you been reading in September?



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

 

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What I’ve Been Reading Lately

September 21, 2018

3 arcs

For today’s post, I have reviews of three ARCS (advanced readers copies) that I’ve read recently. Thank you to #NetGalley #ackermanbooks #harpercollins #atlanticmonthlypress #shewritespress for the free advance copies of #hardcider #virgilwander and #thelieutenantsnurse in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Reviews listed in order of release date.

hard ciderHard Cider by Barbara Stark-Nemon

Have you faithfully cared for your family, enjoyed a fulfilling career, and now your nest is empty? Is it finally time to focus on something for YOU? Is this the time to realize YOUR lifelong dream? To pursue YOUR goals?

Meet Abbie Rose Stone: a retired teacher, a creative, supportive, understanding, and seasoned mom, a loyal, attentive, and caring wife, a hard worker and an ambitious dreamer.

Is it possible for Abbie Rose who has enjoyed raising three children, trying her best to meet their unique challenges and understand their different needs and personalities, to follow her heart and establish her own hard cider business without her husband’s or children’s full support? Just as Abbie Rose finds the courage to make her decision, a stranger presents information that will affect her family’s future and complicate their lives.

When is it a good time for Abbie Rose to pursue her dreams?

Barbara Stark-Nemon creates the memorable character of Abbie Rose, provides an exquisite sense of place as readers can easily envision life along the northern shores of Lake Michigan, pulls us into complicated family dynamics, and describes what the production of hard cider involves.

Readers will appreciate strong and thoughtful themes including infertility, adoption, determination, persistence, compassion, parenting adult children, mature marriage, following a dream, and drawing a wider circle.

The story lines that most affect me include how a woman manages to follow her dream while continuing to creatively and thoughtfully handle complex family issues, how adoption affects children and families, and how compassion and acceptance allow us to draw a wider circle of inclusiveness. One story line I couldn’t relate to is the guidance that Abbie Rose seeks from the Tarot Card reader because I look to God for my spiritual guidance. However, this is a small aspect of the story.

Recommended for readers who are fans of beautifully written stories filled with family dynamics, for those who enjoy an inspirational and motivational story of a woman following her dreams while also caring for her family, for readers who are familiar with the northern shores of Lake Michigan, and for readers of women’s contemporary fiction.

Publication Date: September 18, 2018

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

My Star Rating: 4 Stars



virgil wanderVirgil Wander by Leif Enger (author of Peace Like a River)

Kite flying … nostalgic film references … film reels …. small town independent theaters …. Lake Superior …. a midwest town down on its luck …. quirky characters …. splashes of humor … and a touch of magical realism make Virgil Wander a remarkable and memorable story.

Leif Enger’s devoted fans have long anticipated his new release, Virgil Wander, as it’s been several years since Enger’s well-known 2002 title, Peace Like a River. Enger is an exquisite writer, and he fills this well written, quiet, character driven story with an eclectic mix of quirky characters and an astounding assortment of vocabulary (a great deal of which I had to look up!). Since I’m a fast reader, I had to slow my pace in order to savor the writing and ponder the phrases. Virgil Wander is not a book to power through. Because every sentence is packed with meaning, I found that it worked best for me to read it in chunks and then set it aside for an hour or an evening and pick it up fresh.

Enger creates an amazing sense of place as readers are introduced to a small, upper midwestern town on the shores of Lake Superior, north of Duluth, Minnesota as well as its various, colorful characters. The town, Greenstone, and the main character, Virgil Wander, are both struggling. Greenstone is on the decline and has experienced so much tough luck that it eventually creates a festival called “Hard Luck Days.” The story opens one snowy afternoon with Virgil’s rescue after he drives accidentally (?) off a cliff and submerges his car into Lake Superior. Virgil, surviving with a mild brain injury, returns to his former life feeling like a tenant and lives above the decrepit Empress theater which he owns and manages. Virgil’s life begins to change when Rune, a friendly Norwegian man, comes to town with his creative and extravagant kites. He has “a hundred merry crinkles at his eyes and a long-haul sadness in his shoulders.” Rune seeks to reconcile his grief over a son he never knew who has mysteriously disappeared while Virgil attempts to regain his memory, his equilibrium, and his vocabulary, and suffers silently with romantic feelings towards Rune’s son’s beautiful widow, Nadine. Rune and Virgil become friends and affect some positive changes in the town and help many of the town folk. Virgil finds joy in flying Rune’s kites:

“As a kid I’d enjoyed kites, but only in the usual way of kids, losing interest once they were airborne and manageable. Now I thought of flying daily, hourly. I didn’t hold the string so much as comb it, and once flying I felt small and unencumbered, as if the moving sky were home and I’d been misplaced down here. Maybe I wanted the broad reach, as Lou Chandler had said. That great wide open.”

Many sentimental moments involve Rune and Virgil rewatching old classic movies at the Empress theater, also providing an accepting and comforting gathering place for an assortment of their friends. There are too many sub plots to address in a review, but many of the story lines involve the reinvention of the town and Virgil.

A masterful writer, Enger includes themes such as loss, rebuilding a life (and a town), taking a risk (“[The kite] broke the line and caught the next gust out of town. A perilous beautiful move, choosing to throw yourself at the future, even if it means one day coming down in the sea.”), friendship, finding yourself (“For a man named Wander I’d spent a long time in one place.”), family, love, community, and drawing a wider circle (“Your tribe is always bigger than you think.”). Greenstone, the town’s name, is symbolic and thematic, too: (Wikipedia) “Greenstone is the state gem of Michigan, found along Lake Superior. It is a mineral found in basalt, a volcanic rock. The Ely greenstone found in MN is basalt that has been metamorphosed; that is, volcanic rock which under pressure has been changed into a new form.”

Recommended for fans of literary fiction and for fans of sentences like these:

“This he stated in a flattened voice like a wall build hastily to conceal ruins.”

or

“He had the heartening build of the aging athlete defeated by pastry.”

Recommended for readers who love character driven stories, important themes, and the insightful descriptions of ordinary people and their circumstances, for all who are searching for thoughtful content, for vocabulary enthusiasts, and, of course, for devoted fans of Peace Like a River.

Publication Date: October 2, 2018

Genre/Categories: Fiction, Literary Fiction, Small Town, Rural

Star Rating: 4.5 Stars



lieutenant's nurseThe Lieutenant’s Nurse by Sara Ackerman (author of Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers…full review here)

Pearl Harbor … war … romance … intrigue … cover ups … friendship … heroic nurses are elements that make this a memorable story.

November, 1941 finds Eva Cassidy, a newly enlisted Army Corps nurse, on board the steamship SS Lurline on her way to her first assignment in Hawaii. Even though she’s engaged and her fiance is waiting for her in Hawaii, her voyage holds an interesting distraction: Lt. Clark Spencer, a handsome navy intelligence officer. Complications arise as Eva and Clark are drawn to each other and Eva desperately hides a secret from her past. Later, amidst the chaos of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Eva courageously bands together with her fellow nurses to tend to the American wounded, reconnects with Lt. Spencer, and is faced with questions of whom to trust and a desire to protect the ones she loves.

During the voyage to Hawaii, the story quietly builds as readers become acquainted with portions of Eva’s back story and make the acquaintance of Lt. Clark Spencer. Upon arrival at the island, the story picks up the pace as Pearl Harbor is bombed, medical personnel scramble to save lives, and there are rumors of a government cover up. This is the most engaging part of the story. I appreciate a good page turner and this aspect of the story delivers!

Readers cheer for Eva, a determined, adventurous, and independent woman, as she begins a new career as an army nurse, grapples with her past, feels responsibility for her polio stricken sister, bravely asserts herself into the medical crisis at Pearl Harbor, finds courage to state her opinions to authoritarian doctors, defends the man she truly loves, confronts danger, and embraces her intuition that recovering soldiers could benefit from a therapy dog.

Recommended for fans of Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers, for readers who are interested in the fictionalized account of the attack on Pearl Harbor, for medical professionals who might be interested in the nursing aspect of the story, and for those looking for an engaging histfic read.

Publication Date: March 5, 2019

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, WW11, Women’s Fiction

Star Rating: 4 Stars



Happy Reading Book Worms!

“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 Fall TBR

I’ll be updating my Fall TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often!



Looking Ahead:

I’m thrilled to be reading Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens and eager to bring my review next week. (*Spoiler: I’m almost certain it will earn a place on my best of 2018 list)

where the crawdads sing



A Link I Love

Are you a Minimalist?
Novels and NonFiction: Titles I Found Most Helpful In My Minimalist Journey



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 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.

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

Fall Reading Season

September 18, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My Fall TBR

top ten tuesday

Today I’m linking up with That Artsy Reader Girl for Top Ten Tuesday: Fall TBR. and Top Ten Books By My Favorite Authors I Intend To Read (eight of the authors on my Fall TBR fit this category of authors whose new books I intend to read). If you’ve clicked over from That Artsy Reader Girl, Welcome!

Fall Reading Season

***As the fall reason season progresses. I’ll add updates here as I read the books***

Welcome to my ambitious list for fall reading! (as usual I couldn’t narrow it to 10!)
*Listed in no particular order*

pumpkins

Maple-leaf1

The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton (release date: 10/9)
I’ve read some mixed review on this, but I’m a loyal Kate Morton fan so I’m eager to give it a try.

Maple-leaf1

Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan (release date: 10/2)
***UPDATE: 4.5 Stars. Full Review Here.

Maple-leaf1

The Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny (installment #14 in The Inspector Gamache Three Pines series…they get better and better) (release date: 11/27)
You know what I’ll be doing in lieu of on-line Christmas shopping!

Maple-leaf1

The Color of All the Cattle by Alexander McCall Smith (installment #19 of No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series) (release date: 11/6)
A comfortable read with old friends!

Maple-leaf1

Bridge of Clay by Marcus Zusak (author of The Book Thief) (release date: 10/9)

Maple-leaf1

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (debut author) (pub date: 8/14)
I’ve read almost all glowing reviews of this one! It’s my most anticipated fall read which I’ll be reading and reviewing soon because my library hold just became available!
***Update: 5 Stars. Unforgettable character. (Full Review Here)

Maple-leaf1

Virgil Wander by Leif Enger (author of Peace Like a River) (release date: 10/2)
***UPDATE: 4.5 Stars A memorable read. Brief Review Here.

Maple-leaf1

The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter by Hazel Gaynor  (co author of Last Christmas in Paris…one of my favorites this year) (release date: 10/9)

Maple-leaf1

Dear Mrs. Bird by A.J. Pearce
(pub date 7/3)

Maple-leaf1

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
(I’ve read some mixed reviews on this one….histfic is my fav genre so I’ll see for myself) (pub date: 9/4)
***UPDATE: 4 Stars. Memorable and compelling. Full Review Here.

Maple-leaf1

Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo  (Newbery Award author) (release date 10/2)
Occasionally, I enjoy a great Middle Grade read! Looking forward to this one!
***UPDATE: 4.5 Stars. Memorable and unforgettable. Brief Review Here (scroll down page).

Maple-leaf1

The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff (author of The Orphan’s Tale) (release date 2/5/19)
This should be on my winter TBR except that I recently received an ARC (advanced reader copy from NetGalley/Park Row Books), so I’ll be reading and reviewing this in the fall.
***UPDATE: 4 Stars. Goodreads Review Here.

Maple-leaf1



I have three unread books from my Summer TBR …. I’m not sure if I’ll add them to my Fall TBR list or put them back on my general Goodreads To Be Read  (at some time) shelf.



Happy Reading Book Worms!

“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

Maple-leaf1



Looking Ahead:

I’ve recently finished reading three ARCs (advanced reader copies) of The Lieutenant’s Nurse by Sara Ackerman and Virgil Wander by Leif Enger (author of Peace Like a River) and Hard Cider by Barbara Stark-Nemon. Look for my reviews of all three on Friday’s blog post.

lieutenant's nurse

virgil wander

hard cider



A Link I Love

Compassion for children with disabilities and their families.
Check out this opportunity to be a blessing to others: The Lucas Project (respite care for caregivers and siblings).

The back story of the Lucas Project. Follow Jess Ronne on Instagram @jessplusthemess



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.

Maple-leaf1



 Let’s Discuss

Which book are you looking forward to reading most in fall? Do you plan your fall reading? Which books are on your list?

Maple-leaf1



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

August Wrap Up

August 31, 2018

August Wrap Up

August Wrap Up

Zero books were rated 5 star reads this month, but The Map of Salt and Stars came close and I consider it my best read of the month.

These Wrap Up posts are published with some trepidation because I’m concerned you might think that I’m recommending all these books. Please carefully notice my Star Ratings. Generally, I can confidently recommend 4 or 5 star reads, and I usually consider 3 star reads OK.

I’ve listed my August reads in order by my Star Ranking and my level of enjoyment. Titles are Amazon affiliate links and review links (blog or Goodreads) are also provided.

As always it’s OK to disagree! You might see a favorite that I’ve awarded 2 Stars or I might have rated a book high that you disliked…..Reading is a personal experience and each book makes a unique connection with the reader. Take my star ratings as simply one opinion.

The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhader
4.5 Stars
(best read of the month)
Full Review Here


The Boat People by Sharon Bala
4 Stars
Full Review Here


Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan
4 Stars
Full Review Here


I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon
3.5 Stars
Full Review Here


Lucy’s Little Village Book Club by Emma Davies
3 Stars
Brief Goodreads Review Here


The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan
3 Stars
(not reviewed)


What We Were Promised by Lucy Tan
2.5 Stars
Goodreads Review Here


The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand
2.5 Stars
Brief Goodreads Review Here



summer

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



summer reading

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 good portion of the list (crossing off one more next week), some I’ve been more thrilled with than others, and I’ve only abandoned one)



Looking Ahead:

Next Friday, I hope to bring you a review of Anne Tyler’s Clock Dance.

clock dance

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 were your best reads of the month?

Are you looking ahead to fall reading? I have compiled a fall TBR list that I’m eager to share with you in September!



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

July Wrap Up

July 31, 2018

july wrap up

July Wrap Up

Out of the ten books I read in July, I can generally recommend the first five and wholeheartedly recommend the first three (indicated by 4 & 5 star ratings).

As well as making some progress on my Summer TBR, I also read one that I’ve declared my favorite of the year so far. My reads are listed below in the order of my Star Rating and enjoyment. Titles are affiliate Amazon links, and links to blog or Goodreads reviews are included when available.

As a reminder, here are my Star Rating category descriptions

5 Stars=loved it for all the reasons, highly recommendable to everyone, considered one of my best reads of the year

4 Stars=a great read, recommendable, and memorable

3 Stars=an OK read, I liked it overall but it also has some areas of weakness or it didn’t appeal to me (but others may have liked it)

2 Stars=it wasn’t to my taste for several reasons (but I did finish it) and I’m hesitant to recommend it… lack of appeal could be a genre or subject matter or writing style preference

1 Star=I abandoned it (DNF), not recommendable

Star ratings are extremely subjective and a book that I rate as 1 Star could be rated 5 Stars by someone else. Always check several reviews before making your reading choice, and please don’t be offended if we disagree on preferences.

What I Read

A Place For Us (Fiction) by Fatima Farheen Mirza
5+ Stars
(Full Review Here)
***MY FAVORITE of the year so far!***


The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (Fiction) by Rachel Joyce (author of The Music Shop)
4.5 Stars 
(Full Review Here)


An American Marriage (Fiction) by Tayari Jones
4.5 Stars
(Full Review Coming Soon)


Jefferson’s Sons (MG) by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley [author of the delightful The War That Saved My Life (MG) and The War I Finally Won (MG)]
4 Stars
(Brief Goodreads Review Here)


Sisters First  (Memoir) by Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush
4 Stars

(Brief Goodreads Review Here)


The Ensemble (Fiction) by Aja Gabel
3.5 Stars
(Full Review Here)


All We Ever Wanted (Fiction) by Emily Giffin
3 Stars (writing=2 Stars & relevant content=3 stars)
(Brief Goodreads Review Here)


The Sweetness of Forgetting (light historical fiction) by Kristin Harmel
3 Stars
(Brief Goodreads Review Here)


Still Me (Fiction) by Jojo Moyes (sequel to Me Before You and After You)
2.5 Stars
(no review: if you’ve read the first two in the series and are a Jojo Moyes fan, you may enjoy this easy reading chick lit title)


Warlight (Historical Fiction) by Michael Ondaatje (author of The English Patient)
2 Stars
(Brief Goodreads 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



Give Away!

a place for us 2

There’s still time to enter my giveaway for A Place For Us. This link will take you to the Blogiversary Give Away post.



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 more than half of the list, some I’ve been more thrilled with than others, and I’ve only abandoned one)



Looking Ahead:

 I finished An American Marriage this week and I am eager to bring you a review on Friday.

An American Marriage

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

How’s your summer reading progressing? Are you finding some entertaining beach/pool/plane reads?



***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 photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s website.

10 Favorite Books So Far in 2018

July 10, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Favorite Books So Far in 2018

top ten tuesday

Linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl for Top Ten Tuesday.

It’s the midway point of the year and time for me to start evaluating my most loved reads of the year so far. For me, these are the books that give me a “book hangover” …. meaning I think about them long after I’ve read the last page. Not all these books will make it onto my 2018 Top Ten Reads of the Year List, but I’ll definitely pull from this list.

If you find yourself looking for a great summer read, consider one of these titles.

fav reads so far 2018

The first book in the list below is my favorite read of the year so far with the others arranged in descending order. Titles are Amazon affiliate links, and I’ve included links to my full reviews.


A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

(contemporary fiction)
This shattered my 5 star meter and is my favorite read of the year. I became totally immersed in this family story of faith, parenthood, and sibling relationships. Full Review Here  5+ Stars.


My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

(historical fiction, fictionalized biography)
For fans of Alexander Hamilton: The Musical, a comprehensive and fictionalized biography of his wife, Eliza. 5 Stars. This was my favorite read of the year until I read A Place For Us. Full Review Here.


From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon

(historical fiction, WW11)
Ranking near the top of my favorite list is this memorable and intriguing story of WW11, a Catholic priest, and a Jewish girl. 5 Stars. Full Review Here.


We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

(historical fiction, WW11)
What makes this story extra compelling is that it’s based on the real WW11 experiences of the author’s family and I appreciated its strong themes of faith and family. 5 Stars. Full Review Here.


The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe

(YA historical fiction, WW11)
This is an engaging, page turning, and unique story of a brave teenage girl’s daring determination to help run a secret school and underground library in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. 4.5 Stars. Full Review Here.


The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom

(fiction…with qualities of fable)
A touch of magical realism and romance as readers learn about the life of Frankie Presto and his special music gift. 5 Stars. Full Review Here.


The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

(contemporary fiction, London)
Readers who adore quirky characters will enjoy meeting Frank, owner of an eccentric music shop in a run down suburb of London, as he faces his relationship fears and does his part to preserve the vinyl record industry. 5 Stars. Full Review Here.


Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor

(light historical fiction, WW1, England)
Readers who love the epistolary format and the easy reading quality of Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, will adore this WW1 story which also includes a bit of romance through letter writing. 5 Stars. Full Review Here.


The Way of Beauty by Camille Di Maio

(light historical fiction, New York City)
New York City lovers will especially appreciate this story set in NYC with its themes of the Suffragette Movement and historic Penn Station. 4.5 Stars. Full Review Here.


As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner

(light historical fiction, Spanish Flu, Philadelphia)
Readers who are looking for an interesting and easy reading light histfic story about the Spanish Flu in Philadelphia might enjoy this heartfelt family story. 4 Stars. Full 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



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:

Save the date: August 10! Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society movie is coming to Netflix! (trailer here)

Tips for parents about reading with children: Read Brightly: 15 Tips For Starting a Lifelong Conversation About Books

If you love to entertain or love cheese or love to present food beautifully on boards and trays, check out this new food blog! A Study In Cheese: The Art of Entertaining With Cheese



Looking Ahead:

 Friday I’m excited to bring you a review of the best book I’ve read so far this year: A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza.

a place for us 2.

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!

Have you read any of these titles? What are your favorite reads of the year so far?

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.

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.

June Wrap Up

June 30, 2018

June Wrap Up!

June Wrap Up

Brief Recap:

June was a less than awesome reading month in that I have no 5 star reads to report, and I did abandon two (I’m Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter and What I Saw and How I Lied). My 4 star reads are ok ….they are listed by my order of enjoyment. Us Against You was my most anticipated read….even though I’m a devoted Backman fan and am glad I read the sequel, Beartown is still my favorite of the two.

(ranked in order of star ratings and enjoyment….titles are Amazon links and my reviews are linked if available)

The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe
4.5 Stars (Full Review Here)
Force of Nature by Jane Harper
4 Stars (Full Review Here)
Us Against You by Fredrik Backman
4 Stars (Full Review Here)
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
4 Stars (Full Review Here)
I’ll Be Your Blue Sky by Marisa de los Santos
4 Stars (Brief Goodreads Review Here)
Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder (MG)
4 Stars (Brief Goodreads Review Here)
The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey
4 Stars (Full Review Here)
Hurricane Season by Lauren K. Denton
3 Stars (Very Brief Goodreads Review Here)
Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos
3 Stars (Very Brief Goodreads Review Here)
Wishtree by Katherine Applegate (MG)
3 Stars (Goodreads Review Here)
Antie Poldi by Mario Giordano
3 Stars (Goodreads 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



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:

Are you looking for a fun family or community project this summer? Check out this post about the Kindness Rock Painting Project!

If you’re looking for fiction recommendations from a Christian perspective, check out this post by The Caffeinated Bibliophile here.

SAVE THE DATE: Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society movie is releasing on Netflix August 10!!!



Looking Ahead:

 I’ll be reviewing The Ensemble next week. My library hold finally came in today. The Ensemble has received mixed reviews so I’m eager to see what I think.

ensemble.

***Cover Love***

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 did you read in June? What’s the best book you’ve read so far this year?

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.

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.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.