What’s On My Nightstand

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links.  Using these links provides a small percentage to me that I use to purchase books for our home and school.

Last year I failed at my plans to share about the books I was reading regularly. I  told myself that I would do better in 2017. What’s On Your Nightstand is a great way to hold myself accountable, so I am going to try to participate each month.

What I Read in January:

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend (Katarina Bivald) – This was recommended on my library’s website. I perused a few reviews and saw it compared to 84 Charing Cross Road (which I loved) and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society (another book  I loved). I had no expectations that this would be a gripping, powerful story. I was looking for a light enjoyable book that used the love of literature as an element of the story.

Unfortunately this was a disappointment. The main character, Sara, was not interesting or engaging. While other characters added some life to the story, you never learn enough about them to pull it all together. I cringed at the depiction of “Christians”. The weak pastor who is lead by the uptight town busybody. There is also much focus on various views of appropriate relationships. This is one selection that I can not recommend. I may need to re-read 84 Charing Cross Road.

The Lilac Girls (Martha Hall Kelly) – It is no secret that I am drawn to stories set during World War II. Naturally, I had to read Lilac Girls. Lilac Girls brings together the lives a New York socialite, a Polish teenager, and a young, female German doctor. The story travels from New York, Poland, France, and the concentration camp, Ravensbrück.

For me. this story lacked a continuity and depth compared to other WWII books I have read. What I found interesting is a fact I realized when I finished the book. The New York socialite, Caroline Ferriday was a real person; her name and work for those ladies that suffered in Ravensbrück was new to me. I wonder if she would be pleased with how she was portrayed?

Trouble (Gary D. Schmidt) – Can we go wrong with Mr. Schmidt? I do not think so. Trouble introduces us to Henry Smith. Henry is from a well-established family in Maine. His life is forever changed when his brother, Franklin, is hit by a car.  Henry is driven to hike Mt. Katahdin to try to make sense of what has happened. This is a story of grief, hurt, friendship, sacrifice, prejudice, and love. Henry learns that Trouble can’t be kept away.

My teens and I all enjoyed reading Trouble. Schmidt has a gift at telling a moving story in a subtle way. As always a bit of comic relief is offered up to balance the emotional impact of the story. I also appreciate books that give some great male characters for me teen son to read.

Counting Thyme (Melanie Conklin) – I read a bit about this several months ago and passed over it. Then I saw a review of it at Semicolon and was swayed to give it a go.  Thyme, age 12, I think, has to move across the country so her brother, 5, can have cancer treatment. Thyme struggles with wanting to go back home and knowing her brother needs to be here.

Conklin does an excellent job of showing the various aspects of Thyme’s relationships, struggles, and emotions. The other characters in the story are engaging. I must confess that I wish I had a Ravioli. It is a sweet story of a family that is facing a serious struggle and need each other to stand strong. An excellent middle grade read. There is a bit of young “romance” that is handled appropriately and sweetly. Just noting that for those who prefer books with no romantic leanings.

What will I be reading in February? /So far I have these selected:

  • The Woman in Cabin 10 (started tonight and not sure if I will push through)
  • Above – Roland Smith
  • Gertie’s Leap to Greatness  – Kate Beasley
  • Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
  • The Circle – Dave Eggers

I have a few more requested but I’m not sure if they will be available in February or not.

What is on your nightstand?
What's On Your Nightstand

(Pop back in  later this week when I’ll share what I have been reading aloud with my children.)

 

Save

Favorite Young Adult/Adult Books 2016

**Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. The small percentage earned from affiliate links goes toward books used in our home

While I didn’t read as  much as I wanted in 2016, the books I read were excellent.  I’m going to attempt to narrow things down a bit and maybe rank my list?

Ok. This is my third for fourth attempt at this post. Guys, I just read some really great books this year. And I keep remembering books that came from other sources than my main library. This is an excellent problem to have! I will give you my Top Five Young Adult/Adult selections. Read those. Then go to my 2016 Young Adult/Adult List and read the rest. Ha!

Top Five Young Adult/Adult Books for 2017

1 – Salt to the Sea (and others) by Ruta Sepetys. Salt to the Sea was breathtaking. Read it.

2 – Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt. This is a hard read. Be prepared. It might make some readers uncomfortable but once again, Schmidt handles hard topics with such grace.

3 – The Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan. Perhaps we would like to deny that forced labor of children (slavery) still happens in this world but the truth is often hard. Don’t miss this powerful story.

4 – Once in a Million Boy by Monica Wood. I loved this story. Truly. I think in the end you will close this book with a sigh and a smile.

5 – The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton. How did I miss reading this classic for so long? If you are like me and somehow missed this story, grab it now. Stay golden, Ponyboy. Stay golden.

Psst..I didn’t want to overwhelm my Top Five with World War II books but The Girl in the Blue Coat (Monica Hesse) and The Nightingale (Kristin Hannah)should be on your list if you haven’t read them.

Now..what book would you recommend to me?

Psst..again…I don’t recommend The Girl on the Train unless you are comfortable with language and intimate details.

 

 

Save

Favorite Picks from Children’s Lit 2016

**Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. The small percentage earned from affiliate links goes toward books used in our home.

I love sharing books with my children so I often read books before passing them along. Why? Because a good book is a good book no matter who its intended audience is and it creates connections with my children. How could we play Literary Murder Mystery if we didn’t share our books?

The books in my Children’s Lit section are books I read personally and not aloud. I try to include a wide topic range but don’t always succeed. I must confess that a couple of my favorite picks this year dealt with the elderly.


How to Avoid Extinction – Paul Acampora – is a quick read that packs a lovely punch of life and laughter. Leo’s grandfather passed away and since then he has been in charge of tracking his grandmother who tends to wander off. She isn’t suffering from dementia but a grieving heart and a bit of free spirit. When his grandmother decides it is time for a road trip, Leo tags along. Donuts, dinosaurs, tattoos, and death…how can you pass this read up? It is middle grade fiction but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Leo’s relationship with his grandmother is sweet and I found myself smiling as I read it. At around 200 pages it would be a great choice for the reluctant or struggling reader as well. Mr. Acampora also wrote I Kill the Mockingbird which is another great one for the book list.


The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones – Wendelin Van Draanen – comes with a bit of a confession. I saw this book on my libraries New Books list; it was on order. As always I looked it up on Amazon to find out a bit more about it. The reason I put the book on hold was because it was perfect for fans of Counting by 7s. I loved Counting by 7s. When Lincoln Jones arrived I was skeptical. I was concerned that I had been mislead. Ah,  my concern was not needed. Lincoln Jones keeps to himself and keeps to his writing. Great stories all about a hero that saves the day.  Lincoln? He’s not a hero, right? I don’t want to give away this story because I don’t want to ruin it for you. Another middle grade fiction selection but one I think many would enjoy no matter the age.

Ghost – Jason Reynolds – I walked past it. Twice. It was on display at the library with other new books and the bright yellow cover did nothing to draw me. That day wasn’t a great library day. My selections were slim so at the last moment, literally on the way to check out, I grabbed it. It would be a quick read so why not? Ghost is just one of four middle school kiddos on an elite track team. All have a different story to tell but this one is, of course, Ghost’s story. When it comes to the track, Ghost is a natural when it comes to running. That happens when you find yourself running for your life. Thankfully Coach steps in before Ghost has the opportunity to ruin his life

Although this was a quick read, it didn’t take me long to love Ghost and Coach. I love the roll the adults played in this book and that the story came across as “real”. I passed it along to a couple of my girls and they enjoyed. We are looking forward to the rest of the Track series

Reynolds also wrote As Brave As You which we enjoyed well.

Raymie Nightingale – Katie DiCamillo – I had to double check to see if this was really a 2016 read. It seems like forever since I read this book while sitting in a doctor’s office waiting room. Raymie is putting all her effort into winning the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition. Because winning will be bring her daddy back. But  Raymie isn’t the only one practicing baton twirling for this competition. Louisiana and Beverly are in the competition as well. The unlikely happens and these three girls find that life is pulling them together in friendship. Winning the competition is not what any of these girls needed.  A friend to stand beside you when life is hard is the true prize. I would definitely add this to my girls reading list but they have already read  it, of course. Is it on yours?