Tuesday, July 3, 2018

June Reading Log 2018

June has been a super busy month, lots of babysitting.  I love spending time with our little grandchildren.  I didn't get done the reading I wanted too.  I only was able to read one middle grade book.  So next month I will try to read my middle grade books first.  

The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich was the first book and only book I read this month for the Battle of the Books.  Wow! It was a good historical fiction book about a little girl named Omakayas who lives with her family on an Island of  the Golden-Breasted Woodpecker, somewhere near Lake Superior. Her family tries its best to live as it has always lived before the “white” people came.  They build a birchbark house in the summer and during the fall they go to the ricing camp for a big harvest and feast. During the winter months they move to a cedar log home at the Maple Sugar camps.  Omakayas has a typical Native American childhood, she fights with her brother, she adores the new baby and she tries to be like her big sister. However as she is growing she is learning about her calling, however one day a stranger comes to camp and changes everything for Omakayas’ family.  #middlegrades #battleofthebooks2018

A House Without Window by Nadia Hashimi was a powerful story.  I picked this story as one of my Modern Mrs Darcy Challenge books (a book by an author of a different race, ethnicity, or religion than your own) Wow did I learn a lot about another culture.   The main character, Zeba has been a loving, devoted, and more than patient wife and mother.  However her life is suddenly changed one day when her husband, Kamai, is found murdered in their courtyard.  Zeba is in shock and unable to speak about her whereabouts during the day. Zeba is arrested for the crime and put in a jail for women.
As Zeba waits to see the judge, she meets lots of women who are in jail as well.  I was surprised at the reasons for some of the women’s incarcerations. . We also learn more about Zeba and her life in her community and her family.  Zeba’s lawyer is Yusuf, an Afghan-born, American-raised young man. He is commitment to helping his homeland develop into a country with fair laws. This book has many unexpected twists and turns and a really good opportunity to see into the world the Afghan women live.  This is a *****/5 star book. I will put this on my tentative list for top ten books of the year. #MMDbookchallenge2018

Perfectly Yourself by Matthew Kelly  These are my highlighted notes from the book.  I hope to go back to them and reflect on the questions in my journal.   What is the one thing about yourself that would most radically improve your life if you changed it?  Lesson One:  Celebrate Your Progress  Lesson Two:  Just Do the Right Thing Lesson Three:  Put Character First  Lesson Four:  Find What You Love and Do It   Lesson Five:  Live What You Believe   Lesson Six:  Be Disciplined   Lesson Seven:  Simplify    Lesson Eight:  Focus on What You are Here to Give   Lesson Nine:  Patiently Seek the Good in Everyone and Everyone and Everything   #unreadshelfproject2018

Beartown by Fredrik Backman is about  a tiny hockey community.  The actual community is slowly falling apart but the hockey team holds it together.   Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of the town rest on the teenage boys.  The boys are treated the superstars in the community. They feel they can do no wrong, especially the star of the team, Kevin. After the semi-final win there is a big party for the team and Kevin commits a violent act that will forever leave a young girl, the president of the hockey team’s daughter, scarred.  Now sides and alliances are made and friendships are torn apart. Who will be honest and stand up for what is right? This story is a *****/5 star book.

I read The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath, because it was highly recommended by other readers on Instagram and by Modern Mrs. Darcy.  She had it on her list of 25 Classic Books Women Should Read. I found the book to be very depressing and I often lost interest in the story.  I guess this book was not for me. #classicbooks

As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner is a beautiful story about a family that moves to Philadelphia in 1918.  This was my first book of the month club pick for my birthday gift from Andrew and Caitlin.  It has been sitting on my tbr pile since January. I finally got around to it and it was a wonderful story.  This couple and their young girls move to the city in hopes of a better life. They do have a good life but it was not what they were expecting.  One of the girls breaks out with the Spanish Flu while Pauline’s husband is away at training for the war. Pauline (the mother) does so much to help out her girls, the uncle and the neighboring families, she forgets about herself.  While visiting a sick family, one of the girls finds an orphaned baby boy. As the Bright family loses a member of their family they hold on to the baby and raise him as their own. This is an amazing story of sacrificing for others.  This is high on my tentative list for top ten stories of the year. *****/5 stars #unreadshelfproject2018

This is my Paris book of the month, Letters from Paris, by Juliet Blackwell.  This is the story of Claire, who honors her grandmother’s wish to go to Paris and discover the secret of the artwork, “L’Inconnue”—or The Unknown Woman, that Claire has always admired in the attic.  She finds a letter in the box and Claire is determined to find out the secret. She goes to Paris where she stumbles upon a job at an art shop as an translator. Of course she falls in love the the sculptor at the shop and together they piece together the secret.  The is a fun little romance book that I give ***/5 stars to. #unreadshelfproject2018

Alright, I’ll be honest, I purchased this book based on the adorable cover and because it said book club in the title.  Lucy’s Little Village Book Club, by Emma Davis, turned out to be a charming little romance story.  Lucy works at the library in a little English village called, Tilley Morton.  Lucy begins a book club and meets some new people. She really wants to help them, especially Callum.  The story is about the how the members of the book club overcome their obstacles in their life with the help of their new friends.  I give this book ***/5 stars. It is a delightful read.

I am trying to find a new mystery series to read because I am almost done with the Three Pines series.  I believe it was @theloudlibrarylady who suggested Joanne Fluke books so I tried the first one, The Chocolate Chip Murder.  It is about a young girl named Hannah who runs, The Cookie Jar, in the town of Lake Eden.  When there are two murders in the town Hannah gets involved with her brother-in-law (a police officer) and her sister (a real-estate agent) to solve the crimes.   As Hannah goes to talk to potential suspects she always takes cookies. The author includes the recipes in the story. There is some humor in the book as Hannah’s mom is always trying to redo Hannah’s image and set her up with the men in town.  I give this story ***/stars.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

May Reading Log 2018

May has been an extremely busy month for me.  I didn’t have time to take book photos for Bookstagram so I am just posting the regular book covers this month.  I also didn’t meet my goal of reading five middle grade books for Battle of the Books.   So I may have to do some extra credit reading in June.   HAHA, my June calendar is just as busy as my May Calendar. 

I was so excited to read Shipwreck At The Bottom of The World by Jennifer Armstrong.  I have a fascination about Antarctica.  I LOVE penguins.  I guess I should have thought about the title a bit more before I jumped into it.   SHIPWRECK means you are going to read about extreme living.  These men went on an expedition to be the first team to cross Antarctica in 1914.    Needless to say things did not go as planned, the men of this ship survived ONE year in Antarctica on their own.  They had to be very resourceful and depend on one another in order to survive.  However one day they had to kill 600 penguins for meat and fat.  It was a necessity for them but I was horrified.   

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool is a wonderful story about a young girl who is sent to Manifest for the summer by her father to live with one of his friends   Abilene finds a old cigar box hidden in the floor boards of her new room it full of someone’ old letters that hint that there is a spy known as the Rattler in Manifest. Abilene and her new friends Lettie and Ruthanne decided to figure out who the spy is.
As Abilene learns the secrets of Manifest she wonders how her father fits in the town.   

What could be wrong with a book entitled, Paris for One by Jojo Moyes.   Paris and Jojo Moyes, this book combination has two great things going for it.  But don’t be fooled there is some small print, and other stories.  I enjoyed the first story about Nell and her first trip to Paris.   It is a wonderful little love story.   I did not care for the “other stories.”  I give this book ***/5 stars.  

 It was time for a classic and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott was next on my list.  First of all I just bought this book with the beautiful cover for under $100 bucks.  I had to wait a long time for the price to come down.   Second it was a PBS series this month.   The story is about four sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March who are very close to each other. The story follows the sisters as they develop from young girls into adulthood. The story begins during the American civil war, and their father is away at war.  The girls and their mother must endure great hardships, often times going hungry. Despite the daily challenges the girls must also overcome their personal flaws.  For Meg it is vanity; Jo, temper; Beth, shyness; and Amy, selfishness.  Throughout the story Alcott writes many trials for the girls to overcome their flaws and turn into beautiful, caring young women.  This classic book is a *****/5 star book.  I think my favorite character is Jo, because she tries so hard to be there for her entire family.  She is not perfect but she continues to strive to do better. 

I’ve had A Circle of Quiet by Madeline L’Engle on my TBR list for a long time.  I was really excited when I had a moment to read it.  I was thinking I really need a relaxing book right now that will help me focus my priorities.  This was not that kind of book.  The book was all about Madeline’s life and ups and downs as she submitted and received rejection letters from A Wrinkle In Time.  I was so disappointed.  She just rambled on about her this that in her life.   I would give this book **/5 stars. 

Believe it or not I was on the waiting list for A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle for several months and I finally got it at the same time I was reading A Circle of Quiet.  I was looking forward to this book because I had read so many good reviews about it on Bookstagram and it just came out as a movie as well, so a lot of hype around this story.  A Wrinkle in Time won the Newberry Medal in 1963.  This unique book is about  Meg, her younger brother Charles Wallace and Calvin O’Keefe who travel in time and space to find Meg’s father.   He is a scientist working for the government and he disappeared while working on a secret project.   It is up to the kids with the help of some unlikely characters to save him and bring them all home.  To be honest this was not my genre, to much fantasy with some sci-fi mixed in   I would give this book ***/5 stars. 
#Newberry Winner  #middlegrades

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles was a great book.  I listened to the audio version and I am glad I did because there was no way I could pronounce the Russian names correctly.  In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin for writing a poem. Rostov is moved from his suite in the hotel to an attic room.  He accepts his fate with dignity and continues each day with purpose.  He makes friends with everyone in the hotel.  He goes out of his way to be polite and kind, even to a little girl named Nina.  Years later Nina returns and asks Rostov to watch her daughter, Sophia, for a few weeks while she finds her husband.  What I like the most about this book is how Rostov finds ways to be useful to everyone in the hotel.  He learns how to sew, he helps with the wine list, he becomes a waiter.  He engages in conversation with everyone.  He is definitely a role model of someone who makes the most of the hand he is dealt.  I 

The last book I read this month was Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch.  This book was absolutely adorable.  It makes me want to run out and book tickets to Italy now.  The story is about a young girl Lina, whose mother passes away and wants her to go live with Howard in Italy.  Lina has never met Howard and she assumes he is her father, whom she has never met.   Upon arriving in Italy she receives her mother’s diary and suddenly has Lina’s discovering Italy through her mom’s eyes.   She seeks out art, and a hidden bakery that her mom went to.  She meets a cute Italian boy named Ren, who helps her on her adventure.  . After reading this book I went out and purchased different flavors of Gelato for the first time.  It is delicious.   I think Mango is my favorite.  I would give this book ****/5 stars. 

Thursday, May 3, 2018

April Reading Log 2018

Daring to Hope by Katie Davis Majors is the second book Katie wrote about her life’s journey in Uganda.  (The first book is Kisses for Katie.)  I received this book as a Christmas gift from Monica. 

Katie is an extraordinary young woman who moved to Uganda to follow her life mission to help others.  She has adopted 13 young girls and started the Amazima Ministries.    Daring to Hope recounts Katie’s struggle with her faith as she helps terminal friends.  

It is amazing to me how someone with fourteen children can find more time and energy to help others with more children.  Katie writes about people she takes into her home that are homeless and out casted by their own families because of their illness.  She writes about her struggles, as her prayers for life for her new friends are not always answered.  She has to go through theses struggles to learn through God. 

This is my current read for Day 1 of Anne Bogel’s #12daysofBookstagram.  I love this book.  First I love the cover it is the most beautiful book cover.  Second I love the references to gardening and reading about her imperfect attempts is giving me the courage to try to garden again.  Third I am inspired by Lara Casey's faith and trust in the Lord.  She is so down to earth with her approach to praying.  I will be looking into more of her books and products. 
Day 2 of #12daysofbookstagram, book stack.  This is my little collection of Pride & Prejudice books.


Day 3 Favorite Reading Spot #12daysofbookstagram   I don’t have a favorite reading spot.  I pretty much read everywhere, on the sofa, in my rocking chair, in the car, in the bed and on the front porch.  But my favorite reading takes place with my little grandchildren.  I feel very strongly about reading and I hope to pass down my love for reading to them.

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman, was a cute story about a bond between a granddaughter and her grammie.    Elsa adores her grandmother.  Her grandmother is crazy but is always there for her.  Grammie tells her crazy stories and makes her feel better after a bad day at school.  However Grammie passes away, and leaves behind a huge adventure and mystery for Elsa to solve.  As Elsa begins to deliver Grandma’s letters she also learns more about Grandma’s life before Elsa, some good and some bad.  Elsa meets all the people living in their building and sees them in a new light and becomes friends with them. 

I loved this quote about a grandmother (Day 4 #12daysof bookstagram  favorite quote.)  What a perfect  description of what a grandmother does.  Someone who is always there for their grandchild no matter what. 

I picked up Sourdough by Robin Sloan because I absolutely loved his other book, Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore.   I found, Sourdough, to be an interesting story about Lois Clary who works as a software engineer in San Francisco at a robotics company. She doesn’t like to cook so she orders take  out food everyday from the two brothers who run a tiny take-out restaurant. Then the restaurant closes because the brothers have visa issues but they leave Lois the bread starter behind. She must keep the starter alive; she must feed it daily, play special music, and learn to bake it.
Lois begins to bake the bread and begins to experiment with the starter until she develops delicious bread.  She is able to sell the bread and eventually makes it into a special food market where she makes the bread with a robotic arm.  She gets caught up in the world of food and the history of the starter.  It is a great story ****/5.  
Day 5 More than books  #12daysofbookstagram
In Louise Penny’s 12th novel, A Great Reckoning, Armand Gamache begins a new challenge as Commander at the Sûreté Academy.  He has high expectations to retrain the cadets to be a kinder and thoughtful force.  As always Gamache tries to make the transition smooth, however when the old commander turns up murdered events change quickly. 
Not only is Gamache a suspect for the murder but  so are all the cadets.  There are so many questions that lead to Gamache:  Why is the map important?  Who is Amelia, one of the cadets, to Gamache?  Why are there so many fingerprints on the weapon including Gamache’s?
This story ties up so many story lines that have continued from previous books:  Gamache’s relationship with Michel Brebeuf, The history behind Three Pines and finally the depth of Gamache’s kindness and forgiveness. 
This is a *****/5 star book. 
Day 6 Flat Lay #12daysof bookstagram

I was so excited to read By the Book, Julia Sonneborn.   To be honest I picked this book based on the cover.  What’s not to love, a red door, a pile of books, and a bike?  This cover was designed to entice me to buy it.   Anne is an English professor at Fairfax College in California.  She must write and sign a book deal in order to unsure that she will get tenure. If that is not enough pressure she discovers her ex-fiancé has just become the president of her college and her father is ill.  As the school year continues Anne pines over Adam and the life they had planned.

It’s funny that Jane Austen’s classic; Persuasion is her favorite book because this book is a modern retelling of Austen’s book.  It’s a cute ***/5 star story.
 Day 7 on my nightstand #12days of bookstagram

This is book two in Sherry Thomas’s Lady Sherlock series, A Conspiracy in Belgravia.  It is a complex mystery about Charlotte Holmes.
Lady Ingram, wife of Charlotte’s friend, wants Sherlock Holmes (Charlotte) to find her first love, Charlotte has a hard time with this case because the missing man is, Myron Finch, her illegitimate half brother.  As Charlotte unravels new information she needs to figure out if her friend knows about his wife’s betrayal.   This mystery is a ****/5 story. 
Day 8 Book and Beverage  #12daysofbookstagram


Today I took my little sweetheart to the library, we read books about trains, trucks and orange clownfish.  We picked up two flyers:  The Summer Programs and Reading 1,000 books before kindergarten.  Day 9 library   #12daysofbookstagram

This is what I have on my May TBR list right now.  I will add more after I meet with my new summer reading group of kids.  Day 10  Books you want to read #12daysofbookstagram

Day 11 Bibliophile Life  #12daysofbookstagram
This is a peek inside my book journal.  I am doing things a bit different this year to save time.  When I type up my reviews and take my photos I condense the size so I can get several review on the journal page.  I also try to indicate what book challenges I am participated in by reading that book.  This saves me a lot of extra work of handwriting each entry.  The book Still Me by Jojo Moyoes is a fun light read.  I enjoyed this book more than the second book.  I liked that Louisa was able to develop her own voice and do some good for others.  I give this book ***/5 stars.   
 Day 12  Shelfie #12daysofbookstagram
This is my office/craft room.  I have changed it a lot over the years.  I used to do more crafts and school work in here.  However I needed a place for the books I enjoyed.  This is one of my favorite rooms in the house. 

I listened to Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman on Overdrive and enjoyed it a lot.   I loved Eleanor’s social awkwardness.  As she navigates social media and social events all to meet a man, she finds the perfect friend for her is right in front of her at work.    There are many complex layers to Eleanor’s life and she still has a lot to work through but her new friend Raymond helps her see she has someone looking out for her.   I would give this book a ****/5 star rating.   I laughed and really felt for Eleanor’s tough life. 

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante, is a book about the friendship of two girls from a poor neighborhood in Italy in 1950.  Lila and Elena begin their friendship in primary school and compete for grades, friends, and the teacher’s attention.  As they grow older the continue to compete for acceptance, attention and continual friendship.  I give this book ***/5 stars.  

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes is an amazing story about standing up for others.  This book won the Newberry Award in 1944.  It’s an old story, but still relevant today.  Wanda is picked on at school because she has a Polish name, wears the same dress every day and comes from a poor neighborhood.  Peggy and Maddie pick on Wanda  each day because Wanda says she has 100 dresses in her closet.   Maddie feels bad about how she treats Wanda but doesn’t do anything about it.    This is a wonderful story for all children to read and discuss.  #middlegrades  #battleofthebooks2018