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 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?

 

Let’s Visit Awhile. . . in England

*This post may contain affiliate links.

If only I was really in England!  No doubt my afternoon reading would absolutely lovely sitting in the English countryside. And that is exactly how I’m spending many of my free moments…reading!

It would probably be an interesting idea to actually post about the wonderful books I have enjoyed with my children and in my own private reading. I could even share about the ones that I sat to the side. It is rare that I don’t finish a book but it does happen! Unfortunately,  I am so far behind in reviewing/sharing what I have read, I don’t even know where to begin.

So, why not just share a book that I am reading and enjoying very much right now?

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep (Joanna Cannon) is set in the late 1970s in a English neighborhood. There is a wide cast of characters but the story is pulled along by Grace and Tilly, two young girls looking for God. If they find God, then Mrs. Creasy will be found. This has a bit of mystery/suspense, diverse and engaging characters, and absolutely lovely language. Ms. Cannon has a lovely way with words that create pictures for feelings, mood, and atmosphere.

“I stared past the vicar to Enid’s coffin, and thought of the ninety-eight years which lay inside. I wondered if she’d thought of them too, alone on her sitting room carpet, and I hope perhaps that she had. I thought about how she’d be carried from the church and through the graveyard, past all the Ernests and the Mauds and the Mabels, and how ninety-eight years would be put inside the ground, for dandelions to grow across her name. I thought about the people that would forever walk past her, on their way to somewhere else. People at weddings and christenings. People taking a shortcut, having a cigarette. I wondered if they would ever stop and think about Enid and her ninety-eight years, and I wondered if the world would have a little remembering left for her.” p 88

I just happened to stumble across The Trouble with Goats and Sheep one evening while browsing Pinterest. I wish I could remember where? Someone had it on a “must read in 2016” type of list. Spending so much time in children’s literature, I have to purpose to make time for adult selections.

“It was strange how different people’s kitchens could be. Some were shouty and confused, like Mrs. Dakin’s, and some kitchens, like Eric Lamb’s, hardly made a sound. A clock tick-tocked above the doorframe and a fridge whirred and hummed to itself in the corner. Other than that, there was silence as we ran the taps and stared through the window and washed our hands with Fairy Liquid. Next to the stove were two easy chairs, one crumpled and sagging, the other smooth and unworn. Over the back of each were crocheted blankets, reams of multicolored yarn stretched together in a shout of color, and on the dresser was a photograph of a woman with kind eyes. She watched us dry our hands and take lemonade from Eric Lamb, and I wondered if it  had been her patience which had woven together the strands of wool, for a chair she could no longer sit in.”  p.182

I’m just a bit over halfway finished with my reading and am eager to see how the lives of this little neighborhood are going to end. I’m taking it slow and enjoying my time sitting on the wall with Grace and Tilly.

“I still hadn’t learned the power of words. How, once they have left your mouth, they have a breath and a life of their own. I had yet to realize that you no longer own them. I hadn’t learned that, once you let them go, the words can then, in fact, become the owners of you.” p.187

What have you been reading this summer?