Sunday, June 16, 2019

Bookshops and Libraries Seattle

The Secret Garden Bookstore was one of our first stops on our trip to Seattle.  The store was very cute and had a large range of books to choose from. My little buddy found one of his favorite toys there too.  

I found another cute bookstore on my visit to Seattle, Queen Anne Book Company.   It was in an adorable neighborhood and I loved the location. You could pick out a few books and then stop in a bakery.  There was a cute sitting area outside that I wish I had time to sit and read at. I found two books and some fun note paper.  

On our final day in Seattle we stopped at the Seattle Central Library.  It is an 11 story glass building. I was a bit disappointed in the children's’ library area but the views throughout the rest of the library made up for that.   
You can say my husband was less than thrilled to stop at the library, however he did get a cup of hot coffee out of the deal so that made him happy.  There is an amazing gift store, The Friendshop, on the main floor of the library.  Wow! It if filled with all kinds of book related items.  I did buy A Very Hungry Caterpillar blanket to snuggle my little buddies up with when they come over to read and rock with me.   

I loved this display so much I took a picture of it.  I am going to copy that letter idea for a project at my school library this fall.  I wish I would have purchased the rainbow bookends but I thought I would be able to find them online and ship them to my house and not worry about bringing them home on the plane.  I was wrong!

Sunday, June 9, 2019

May 2019 Reading Log

May was a busy month but I squeezed in as much reading as possible.  It helped that we went to Seattle because I was able to listen to books on the plane and then in the car as we drove to Spokane.  My reading groups at school are doing some great work as well but sadly my time as a school teacher is coming to an end.
My favorite book this month was The Gown.  It is an historical fiction book but is also had a bit of romance in it as well.  My favorite middle grade book this month was Bridge to Terabithia. I am not surprise by this because this was a reread for me and it is one of my favorites.

The Big Four ***
Caroline ****
The Cuckoo’s Calling ***
Fly Away ***
The Folded Clock  DNF
The Gown ****
Just Look Up ***

Young Adult Fiction
The Outsiders *****

Middle Grades

The Boxcar Children ***
Bridge to Terabithia *****
Molly’s Pilgrim ****
The One and Only Ivan *****
The World According to Humphrey ***

6 Fiction
1 YA
5 Middle Grade Fiction Books
12 Total Books for May

“When you’re a mom, you learn about fear.  You’re always afraid. Always.
About everything from cupboard doors to kidnappers to weather.”  K. Hannah

I read Kristin Hannah’s book Fly Away, it is a sequel to Firefly Lane as part of a buddy read with #khbcbuddyreads.    The beginning of the book seems like a recap of of the Firefly Lane but from different perspectives.  However it really is about how Tully’s life spirals apart after the death of her best friend. The characters from Firefly Lane are all in this book as well.  They all come together to support Tully in the hospital yet at the same time they all see how their actions since the funeral played into Tully’s situation.
What I liked about this book is that the reader was able to hear some of the voices that were not heard in Firefly Lane.  I also enjoyed Dorothy's story. I would give this book ⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars.

“The dead could only speak through the mouths of those left behind…”  R. Galbraith

I am struggling to find a mystery series to read now that I have read all of the Louise Penny’s books to date.  My friend Cheryl recommended this book/series to me.

As with any new series it took me a bit to find Cormoran Strike likeable.  At first he was a bit harsh. However as the story unfolds you learn more about him and understand what he is going through and see some of his life struggles.  

***Spoiler Alert***

The murder and the suspects itself kept me guessing.  I was confused to who had done it. But in the end it comes down to motive, however I didn’t expect her brother to be a killer. I question if Bristol already got away with it and the police ruled it a suicide, why he would hire a private detective to look back into it.   

This the first crime novel by J.K. Rowling, writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.  I did enjoy it enough to give the second book in the series a try.

“With enough time, you can get used to almost anything.”  
K. Applegate

I read The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate last summer and just loved it.  So when my fifth graders were looking for a new book to read I put this on the table as a choice.  I was thrilled when they picked it. This book is just adorable. I did reread it and took so many more notes about feelings.  This book was just great for our book talks because I am trying to get the girls to infer how and why the characters are feeling or reacting to situations and find the evidence to support their statements.  I am trying to get them to read between the lines a bit. Both girls only see what is on the page.

Today our discussion was all about the difference between principal and principle.  And when Julia said It was a matter of PRINCIPAL.” He father corrected and said PRINCIPLE, what did he mean and was this a major turning point in the story.   Maybe it was Monday morning but that question landed with a THUD!

“You may be afraid, but you may not let your fear chase you away from what must be done.”  
S.  Miller

This past week I was back on the prairie in Kansas with the Ingalls family but with a twist in Caroline, by Sarah Miller.  

I loved this historical fiction book. It was interesting to hear what life on the prairie would be like from Ma’s point of view.  I could not imagine living in a small cabin with my three children. The book focuses on the family’s travel from Wisconsin to Kansas.  Then their two years in Kansas.

My picture is from the window of the Airbnb I stayed at in Seattle.   The simplicity of the window with the plant reminded me of the part in the book when Caroline rocked in her new rocking chair with baby Carrie. She would stare out the window watching for trouble.    

The picture of the teal house is the Airbnb we stayed in.  It was adorable inside. This was my first time staying at an Airbnb and it was a great experience.   I highly recommend it.

“I've been thinking about it, and that poem, that guy that wrote it, he meant you're gold when you're a kid,
like green. When you're a kid everything's new, dawn. It's just when you get used to everything that it's day.
Like the way you dig sunsets, Pony. That's gold. Keep that way, it's a good way to be.”
S.E. Hinton

This is the first book my sister and I are reading together for a buddyread.  We both are avid readers but we rarely read the same books and we never talk books.  As of today she has not read the book. We picked this book because I told her I was trying to read one book a month from the #greatreadpbs list.

I started listening to this book on Overdrive as we flew out to Seattle.  I fell asleep sometime after **spoiler**Johnny died. When I went back to find the spot the audiobook would not work.  So I had to buy the book on Kindle and stayed up til midnight reading the ending.

First of all I liked the names Sodapop and Ponyboy.  Next I liked that this story was from Ponyboy’s point of view. He is the youngest in the gang and struggling with his own identity and his loyalty to the gang.  The story centers around Ponyboys struggles with why the greasers are different from the Socs. The only thing he can figure out is that the Socs have money. Otherwise they are all kids who are just trying to fit in and belong in high school.   

This is a wonderful book with many teaching opportunities for students in high school. I give this book ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars for addressing many issues facing children and for showing how to view situations from different viewpoints.  

“You never know ahead of time what something's really going to be like.”
K. Patterson

Jessie thinks he has his entire fourth grade year planned out until he meets the new girl, Leslie.  She opens up his thinking to all new possibilities. She introduces him to a whole new world of imagination.   

I love this ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ star book.  This was a reread for me, I first read this book in my Children’s Lit. Class in college.  How I loved that class. Our homework was to read two middle grade books and four picture books a week to discuss in class.  I can not tell you how many books I bought that semester. I was already married with little kids and my husband said this was the most expensive class ever!!
Anyways, Katherine Patterson is an amazing writer. I quickly identified with the character Jessie because of his relationship with his father.  Jessie had to hide his love of art because his father would not understand. It was interesting to me that Jessie appeared to have all the jobs in the family but it could have been because the story was told from his perspective.  

This is a wonderful story for teaching standing up for friends, friendships and loss.  

I read The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner with one of my reading groups.  It was my first time reading this book. It is a realistic fiction (unrealistic) book about four children whose parents pass away in a car crash and they run away because they think their grandfather will be mean to them.  

What I liked about this book is that it was easy to read and easy to comprehend.  There was no complicated vocabulary for my struggling readers. What I didn’t like about it is that the children took on stereotypical roles.  The big brother went to look for a job while the older sister set up a house (out of an old boxcar) and took car of the younger children. Overall I would give this book ⭐️⭐️ stars.  

“You can learn a lot about life by observing another species.”  B. Birney

Considering, The World According to Humphrey, is told from the hamster’s point of view, the story has a very strong message for the student readers.  

Humphrey lives in classroom 26.  He is learning to read, write and shoot rubber band.  Rubber Band shooting is for self defense so it is a necessary skill.  He is learning to speak English. Every night he has conversations with the janitor and each weekend Humphrey goes to a different student’s house.  At each house Humphrey somehow helps the family out by solving some type of family problem. The story is very humorous and the students loved trying to figure out how Humphrey was helping in each chapter.   
My students highly recommend this book.

Molly’s Pilgrim  by Barbara Cohen is an excellent story.   I read this with several of my reading groups this week and they really enjoyed it.  First of all they really liked how short the book was. Leave it to kids to make that a criteria for how good a book is.  Secondly, all of my students were surprise that “Pilgrims” could mean more than just the people who came from England and found their way to Massachusetts.  

This was just a great story dealing with bullying, understanding people who are different from you, don’t judge someone until you get to know them and be open to new ideas or interpreting things in a new way.   I give this book 5 stars.

I read The Gown with my CK teacher book club and Wow did I enjoy the book.  It was our second meeting and we now have six members.

It was one of those dual historical reads where part of the story took place just after WWII at the time of the queen’s wedding.  Then there is Heather who is exploring her Grandmother’s connection to the gown in present time. Heather is given a box with embroidered flowers and a picture of her Nan and Miriam Dassin after her grandmother passes away. It has her name on it.  Heather sets out to find out the history/story behind the pieces. She is able to find Miriam Dassin who knew and worked with her grandmother.

Miriam and Ann’s story is a beautiful story of friendship, secrets and sacrifices made after WWII.  Both were young ladies working to make ends meet in the famous Mayfair fashion house of Norman Hartnell. They do a lot of the embroidery on the dresses.  The Queen and the princesses order their clothes from this designer. So the make a lot of important dresses including the priceless wedding dress for the then princess.   

After the dress is complete the ladies go their separate ways but their hearts are always close together.  I enjoyed this ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 star book.

“He laughs best who laughs at the end.”
A. Christie

I read my fifth Hercule Poirot Mystery this year as part of the #queensofmystery buddy read, however I was unable to participate in the buddy read because of my busy schedule.  The Big Four by Agatha Christie was my favorite so far.  It was very difficult to figure out who the main players were because they were all new characters.  Hastings was back in this book and I found him to be likeable in this story. In The Big Four Poirot and Hastings are looking for four international criminals who have teamed up to cause instability in the world.  Overall I give this book ⭐️⭐️⭐️ /5 stars.

Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh  was the final book I read in May.  I picked this book because it was written by a pastor’s wife.  In January I started the Hope By The Book 2019 challenge and I thought I was signed up for the magazine.  I follow @hopebythebook on Instagram as well and I thought there was going to be book recommendations throughout the year.  I don’t know if I am missing something but it did not work out the way I thought. I feel like I am on my own with this challenge.  I only got one magazine and I am struggling to find books to fit their categories.

Anyways,  I read the book Just Look Up and it was a cute story about a young girl named Lane Kelly who has a high powered design job in Chicago and felt disconnected from her family.  She comes back to Harbor Pointe, MI when her brother is in a serious motorcycle accident. She struggles to get along with her family, however, she does reconnect with a family friend Ryan who helps her re-evaluate what is important to her.  It’s a fun and easy ⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 star read.

I couldn’t get to Harbor Pointe, Michigan to take my picture however I do live on the other side of Lake Michigan.  I thought Lake Michigan would be a fun background for my picture.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

April 2019 Reading Log

April was a very busy reading month.  I read some great books with my guided
reading groups in school as well as some wonderful books on my own.  My
favorite book this month was The Beantown Girls.  I highly recommend the book
if you love historical fiction with a little romance thrown in.
My favorite middle grade book was Sadako and the Thousand Cranes, which
was based on a true story.  

The Beantown Girls  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Book of Speculation  ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Firefly Lane  ⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd  ⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Music Shop  ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Us Against You  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Words in Deep Blue  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Because of Winn Dixie  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
George’s Marvelous Medicine ⭐️⭐️⭐️
My Father’s Dragon ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Sadako and the Thousand Cranes  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

“When you get to the end, you see that love and family are all
there is. Nothing else matters.”
 K. Hannah

I am reading Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah for a buddy read with
@jesikasbookshelf and @rosie_tinted_books this month.  I missed the
first chat but I hope to remember the the second one. I don’t know
about anyone else but I had to read the complete book.  I can not
just read bits and pieces throughout the month. It is too
confusing especially when you are reading several books at a time.  

Anyways Firefly Lane has been on my unread shelf for a long time so I
was excited to see the buddy read.  It was the perfect reason to pick
up the book and get going. I have LOVED several of the other Kristin
Hannah books that I have read so I knew that this book was going to
be emotional and unexpected.  

Kate and Tully develop a friendship in middle school and They plan out
their lives together.  They go to college together and they work at
the same place. Tully is clearly the driving force in their lives
and you can see that Kate is unsure of their direction but she doesn’t
want to hurt Tully.

I was a bit disappointed in the character Kate.  She didn’t seem to
take charge of her life and decisions until the end.  Up until that
point she sort of let life happen to her with her job, motherhood and
her friendship with Tully.   She had everything she always wanted but
she didn’t seem happy with it especially when she compared
herself with Tully. She was always jealous of Tully but at the same
time she didn’t want what Tully had.   

Tully on the other hand didn’t realize what was important until the end
was there.  Then she realized what she was missing in life and started
to make changes.

“I wish you courage
I wish you rushing blood
A heart that beats too hard
Feelings that make everything too hard
Love that gets out of control
The most intense adventures
I hope you find your way out
I hope you’re the kind of person
Who gets a happy ending.”
 --F. Backman

My friend Cheryl talked me into reading Us Against You by Fredrik
Backman and to be honest after reading several reviews on bookstagram
I wasn’t really looking forward to it.  However, my friend really
wanted to read it and so I read it with her. I was surprised, I
really enjoyed it. Mr Backman is an excellent writer.   I have to be
honest I loved Beartown and gave it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and Us Against You
was good and I would say only ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.   

I was totally into the storylines of Benji, Mia and Anna.   I even was
interested to see what would happen with Leo. I liked how Peter ended
up but didn’t care for his character throughout the story.  I don’t
want to spoil the story for anyone but I was a bit disappointed
in Benji’s game decision.

“It’s supposed to live for a thousand years. If a sick person folds
one thousand paper cranes, the gods will grant her wish and make her
healthy again.”
E. Coerr

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr is a beautiful
book about a young girl who lived in Hiroshima, Japan during WWII
when the Atom Bomb was dropped by the US.   Sadako is a brave little
girl who just wants to run on the school team, but an illness will
sidetrack her running ambitions. This book deals with some serious
topics: effects of war, cancer, and death.  It is a captivating story.

I read this book with one of my reading groups at school and we had
some wonderful discussions.  I love this time of the school year,
everything you have taught all year starts to come together.  I’m
only sad that the school year is almost over because I will
miss these discussions.
“There ain't no way you can hold onto something that wants to go,
You can only love what you got while you got it.”

Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo is an adorable story of a
young girl who moves to a new town but is very lonely.  Opal has no
friends and she is missing her mama, until one day she finds a lost
dog. With the help of her new dog Opal begins to make new friends
throughout the town.  Things change for Opal, her dog, and all the
people she meets in the town. It is a great story of friendship,
community and second chances.

My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett is a book that takes some
time to warm up too.  The first time I read it I was not too engaged
in it. I’m not a big fan of fantasy stories.  However, now that
I read it two more times and had several book discussions with
different groups of students I’m starting to change my mind.    
First of all the kids love all the different animals and their
personalities. The kids love how Elmer tricks the animals. They also
think it is random that Elmer just happened to pack those things.   
Big topics we discussed were plan ahead and be prepared and use
your mind to get out of difficult situations.

“It is completely unimportant. That is why it is so interesting.”
Agatha Christie

This quote sort of sums up my feelings about this book.  Unimportant…
That is how I feel about the clues for The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd by
Agatha Christie.   Roger Ackroyd is stabbed in a locked room but by
who and his fiance was murdered? Or was it suicide two day before.  
OH and she was being blackmailed but nobody seems to know
by whom. In enters Hercule Poirot, the new neighbor, who is a retired
investigator.  Step by Step and clue by clue he figures out who has
committed the murder. It will take you to the very end to figure it
out because Agatha Christie wrote so many clues and suspects with
motives it takes until the very end……...but once again I do have to
say I did guess this one too, even though it was somewhat tricky.   
I give this mystery ***/5 stars.

“But I love you, and before you say it words do matter. …”. C. Crowley

How could you not love this book?  First the cover is adorable.
Second it is a book about books.  Third, it is a love story. Rachel
has always loved Henry. Henry has always loved Amy.  Henry and Rachel
were always best friends. When Rachel comes back home to find a job
after the death of her brother, she doesn’t understand how her best
friend has never reached out to her especially after the letter she
left where she declared her love.  

Henry is devastated when Amy breaks up with him again.   Then Rachel
comes to town and takes a job at Henry’s failing bookstore and she
has a chip on her shoulder.  Why is she being so mean to him? She
is the one who left and never responded to his letters. Why is she
acting like he did something wrong?   

Henry and Rachel decide to be friends again, until the kiss.  Things are
going well and then Amy decides she wants to get back with Henry.   
Who will Henry choose this time Rachel who is always there for him
or Amy?

“Never grow up……..always down”.
R.  Dahl

George’s Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl is a humorous book.  
I am reading this with one of my fourth graders at school and another
group of third graders practicing for Battle of the Books.  I was never
really a fan of Roald Dahl however his books are starting to grow on me.
The kids just love the humor in them.

George is a little boy who is tired of being ordered around by his
grumpy and mean old grandmother.  So he decides to make a medicine to
create some kind of reaction and maybe an explosion. His medicine is
so amazing grandma goes right through the roof.  This is a cute little
story. Even my reluctant readers are enjoying this story and that says
a lot.
“How best to honor those we’ve lost? By not being afraid to live
life and take risks,
by daring to open your heart to possibility.”
J. Healey

Jane Healey delivers a wonderful story about the Red Cross Club
mobiles during WWII.  I have read a lot WWII books fiction and
non-fiction however, I have never heard of the Red Cross Club Mobiles.  

In The Beantown Girls, Healey tells the story of three young ladies
who volunteer during WWII and serve in the Red Cross to serve coffee
and donuts to the allied troops in Europe.  Fiona, Viviana, and Dottie
are three college friends from Boston who volunteer together. They
expect the job to be hard but they are unprepared for the emotional
hardships they will see and endure so close to the front line of a war.
They are doing more than just serving coffee and donuts to the troops
they are providing the troops a bit of normalness in an unreal
situation. They talk to the troops and listen to their fears and hopes
and stories of families. They sing and try to cheer them
up and let them know that they are loved even if their family can not
be there to remind them.   The girls make some wonderful friendships and
even develop some romantic relationships but they also suffer loses as

The Beantown Girls will strengthen their friendship as well as develop
personal confidence and courage to move to the next level of their
lives. This is a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ star read.

This is the first meeting of the book club my friend Cheryl and I are
started. So far we have invited teachers from the school where we
taught to be part of the club.  I think this club will be fun and
hopefully it will grow as time continues.

“I think that loving another person and being kind is about the
best thing you can do.”  R. Joyce

I have had The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce on my TBR list for several
months now and I finally read it.  It was an enjoyable story about
Frank who owns a Music Shop that sells Vinyl records in 1988 on a
dead end, run down street.  There are a couple other small shops on
the street and the vendors all stick together and watch out for
one another.

One day a beautiful young lady in a green coat passes out in front of
the Music Shop and the
mystery begins.  Who is this woman? Where is she from? Why did she
come to the music shop?

Ilse Brauchmann wants music lessons.  She has lost her joy of music
and she wants to find a new way back.  Frank has a gift of matching
people with the perfect song to help them move on passed their problems,
however he can not deal with his own emotional problems.  It is obvious
that Frank and Ilse are attracted to each other but Ilse has many
secrets and Frank is afraid of relationships.

Once you’ve held a book and really loved it, you forever remember
the feel of it, its specific weight,
the way it sits in your hand.
E. Swyler

Simon’s home is falling apart and he just lost his job.  Then one day he
receives a book in the mail with no note.  It is a really old book
and it has his mother’s name and his grandmother’s name in it.
Simon begins to read and research the book and begins to realize it
is his family’s history.  He figures out that all the women in his
family died the same way, before they were 30 and some on the exact
same date.  Now he is on a mission to make sure his sister does not fall
into that same fate.

I purchased the Melissa and Doug Grocery Store for my grandkids.
I did not purchase food for it yet so we changed it into a bookstore.
Every since I saw the movie You Got Mail I wanted to own a little
bookstore just like Meg Ryan's. This could be my new career.

When I let my little buddies play with it my one grandson was using
the top shelf as a book drop. He was sliding the books through to
the other side. I think he was confusing the library with the
bookstore. So cute!!