Category: Book Lists

What My Kids Are Reading: Teacher Gift Edition!


The Boo-Boos That Changed the World The Caper of the Crowned Jewels (Secret Agent Jack Stalwart) My Rotten Stepbrother Ruined Cinderella

I received a free copy of The Boo-Boos That Changed the World from Blue Slip Media and a free copy of My Rotten Stepbrother Ruined Cinderella from the author. All opinions are my own! (And I bought additional copies of both books with my own cash money!)

Well, it’s that time of year! Teacher Appreciation, end of year teacher gifts, and feeling extra grateful for how much our teachers have done throughout the year. One of our teacher appreciation gifts was to add to each teacher’s classroom library. Can you guess how excited I was about this??? I think this is a wonderful idea, and if you’re like me and try to give more practical gifts to teachers throughout the year, books are great. These are the books I gifted to my boys’ teachers, and I truly think they’re all great books.

For Our First-Grade Teacher

The Boo-Boos That Changed the World: A True Story About an Accidental Invention (Really!)

I love non-fiction books for kids that are actually interesting and fun, and this one is fantastic. Who knew the history of Band-Aids could be so interesting? Earle Dickson worked for Johnson & Johnson in the 1920s. His wife was extraordinarily clumsy, and he needed to come up with an easy way for his wife to cover her wounds while he was at work. Using supplies from his job, he created a rudimentary version of what we now know as Band-Aids. His boss thought it was a great idea, and dedicated Johnson & Johnson technology to improving it. This is a perfect book for elementary aged kids, and a great read-aloud for teachers!

For Our Third-Grade Teacher

The Caper of the Crowned Jewels (Secret Agent Jack Stalwart)

My 9-year-old picked this book out at Murder By the Book in Houston, and it is SUCH a great series!! Each book takes place in a different country, and the beginning of the book reads like a secret agent file about the case and includes history and interesting facts about the country. This is the third book in the series and takes place in London. Jack has to figure out who has stolen the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London, and even gets to meet the Queen. This is an easy chapter book, and while my 9-year-old reads these pretty quickly, he still loves them because they’re fun and adventurous. If you know your child’s teacher has a thing for the royals (Don’t we all??), this would be a great addition to his or her classroom library.

My Rotten Stepbrother Ruined Cinderella

This book might be my favorite of the bunch, and as soon as I finished reading it I ordered it for my son’s teacher. Seriously. (And I’ll be buying it and others in the series for other kids.) The Rotten Stepbrother series takes fairy tales and turns them on their heads, and I love it. In this one, Maddie’s stepbrother Holden ruins her report on her favorite fairy tale, Cinderella, and embarrasses her in class. That night, they are magically transported inside the fairy tale, where everything has gone wrong. The prince thinks he loves the evil stepsister, Cinderella is stuck cleaning her stepmother’s house (and gets thrown into the dungeons), and Maddie and Holden both become characters in the story. They have to fix everything so that Cinderella gets her happy ending, or the fairy tale might stay cracked forever. This book is funny, witty, and really well-written. There’s something for everyone, and I think girls AND boys would enjoy this one.

A Bookish Mother’s Day Gift Guide

I received several of these books from the publisher, either as hard copies or digital galleys. I’ve marked my partnerships with a second asterisk. I only recommend I love, and all opinions are always my own!

I love to give books as gifts, but that can be tricky. We all have different genre preferences, favorite authors, and reading mood changes. But if you have a mom who loves to read like I do, chances are you can make a pretty good guess as to what type of book they would enjoy. I’m featuring a few of my favorites that I’ve gifted to my mom, some that I’ve received, and some that I plan to gift to a few of my friends who are new moms. Let me know in the comments any book suggestions you have for Mother’s Day! Mom, if you’re reading here, just stop now!!

New Moms

These might seem odd recommendations for new moms, but I think moms worry enough about reading all the parenting books, and could really use more fun books to relieve some of that worry. With just a hint of motherhood (and friendship) thrown in, of course.

**Mama’s Belly by Kate Hosford, illustrated by Abigail Halpin (This is the sweetest book! It’s about a little girl and her mom, who is pregnant, and how the little girl is excited about meeting her new sibling, but also worried about there being enough love to go around. It’s perfect for brand new moms who are worried themselves about a new life, and for second-time moms–or third or fourth–who want to reassure their other little ones.)
*Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (Read my review HERE. There are so many family dynamics, especially mother/daughter relationships, and it will give any mom a lot to think about!)
**The High Tide Club by Mary Kay Andrews (This is her newest book, out May 8th, and it’s a fun book about scandal, secrets, and, most importantly, the friendship of a group of women, something that a lot of new moms might need reminding about.)

Historical Fiction

*The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck (Read my review HERE.)
**Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict (Read my review HERE.)
**I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon (This is Lawhon’s take on the Anastasia Romanov mystery and Anna Anderson, the woman who claimed to be her in the 1920s. I’m planning to get this and buddy read it with my mom!)

Wine

Do I need to explain why this is its own book category? Probably not! My mom loves to read about the history of wine and stories that take place in beautiful wine country. I gave her Cork Dork last year, and she may be getting another this year!

*Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste by Bianca Bosker (Bosker is a journalist who started researching wine to figure out why it’s such a big deal-I can definitely relate to that. I gave this to my mom last year and she and my dad both liked it!)
*The Wandering Vine: Wine, the Romans and Me by Nina Caplan (This one comes out May 8, so if you pre-order now it’ll definitely arrive in time for Mother’s Day. I just pre-ordered this and I know it’s one my mom is going to love. This also fits in the next category, as it’s Caplan’s story of traveling through various wine countries and learning about wine, drinking, and herself in the process.)
*Also, you know, a bottle of wine!!

Travel

*The Paris Effect by K.S.R. Burns (This sounds SO GOOD, and I’m planning to buy copies for my mom and myself! It’s about a woman who goes on a trip to Paris after the death of her best friend and how she learns to move past her problems and start living life.)
*Dispatches from Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta by Richard Grant (Read my review HERE.)
*The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific by J. Maarten Troost (Ok. Hear me out on this one. This is a book that my mom actually gave to me, and it is straight up hilarious. Troost moved to the tiny island of Tarawa for two years. Enter what it feels like for a Westerner to move to a place where dengue fever runs rampant and there’s no electricity, running water, buildings, or airplanes. If your mom likes travel memoirs, this one is sure to be a hit.)
*Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World by Anthony Doerr (This is the author’s account of the year he spent in Rome writing All the Light We Cannot See, which would also make a great gift if your mom hasn’t read it yet! I think the title says it all!)

Fiction

*Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge (Read my review HERE. This is my favorite book this year so far . . .)
*The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Read my review HERE. This was one of my favorite books of 2017!)
*The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (My mom just got this book, and I’m waiting for her to start for me to start reading it! Kristin Hannah is one of my favorite authors, and this book has family drama, adventure, and the type of mystery that only Alaska can bring.)

Books to Buddy Read with Mom!

*A Quiet Life in the Country (A Lady Hardcastle Mystery) by T E Kinsey (This is the first book in the Lady Hardcastle series, and it’s just amazing. I bought this for my mom (Mom, hurry up and finish reading this!), and I’ve been listening to the audio, which I bought on Audible. The audio is so good, and I’m going to get the rest in the series this way. It’s one of the best cozy mysteries I’ve ever read.)
*Still Life, the Inspector Gamache series, by Louise Penny (Read my review HERE. This is the other cozy mystery series that I love. And it is amazing. If you and/or your mom haven’t started them, what are you waiting for??)
*Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (This is the first in a trilogy, and if you’re looking family drama and a more diverse shelf for your mom, this is the book to get! The movie opens in August, so it might be fun to read it together and then have a movie date!)

Extras!

*Carrot Top Paper Shop-Carrot Top Paper Shop makes my favorite bookmarks and prints, and if you’re getting your mom multiple books, you might want to add in a few bookmarks.
*Book Light-This was suggested by Colleen at The Sagging Bookshelf, and it’s such a great idea!!
*Bookshelf Tees-So these are my new favorite shirts. Seriously, they’re so cute and soft!
*Just One More Chapter Mug-To fill with coffee! Or wine!
*My Pretty Peggy-Erin makes the cutest peg dolls, both literary and custom. Whenever she’s taking custom orders, it might be fun to have some made to look like you and your mom!
*Book of the Month Club-Might seem obvious, but I have to include it because they’ve had some really good selections the past couple of months.

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We Heart Books-Valentine’s Day Love!

Valentine’s Day is coming! Yes, I know it’s not a real holiday. Yes, I know it’s pretty much the worst holiday. But I don’t care, I like holiday-themed books, and we’ve got them for Valentine’s Day too! These are some of our favorites, and what we’re reading this week and next week in anticipation of the fun holiday. (That I completely use as an excuse to eat chocolate and cook heart-shaped pasta.)

ALL AGES

Love Monster
This is probably our favorite out of the whole bunch, and one of our favorite picture book series. Love Monster, Love Monster and the Perfect Present, and Love Monster and the Last Chocolate is about an adorable monster who lives in Cutesville. He thinks he is anything but cute, since he doesn’t look like the other fluffy animals in Cutesville, but he finds a friend who thinks he’s perfect, and he realizes that he’s just fine the way he is. Each book focuses on an aspect of friendship and how friends love you for who you are. I LOVE them, and the illustrations are absolutely wonderful.

Slugs in Love
I bought this book because how often do you see a book about slugs in love?? It looked quirky and cute and it is! Marylou the slug loves Herbie the slug, but isn’t sure how to get him to notice her. Herbie feels the same way. Throughout the book, they write silly poems to each other all over a farm, and finally find each other in the end. It’s a very cute book, and not too mushy if you’re kids don’t like stuff like that. And it’s illustrated by Kevin O’Malley, one of my favorites!

A Valentine for Percy
If your child loves Thomas the train, he or she will love this sweet Valentine’s book! It’s very simple, about Percy searching Sodor for his Valentine, and all the engines celebrating together. There are also Thomas-themed Valentines included at the back of the book that kids can tear out and give to their friends, which might be worth it alone! Thomas Valentines can be hard to find!

Elementary/Middle Grade

The Kids of the Polk Street School-The Valentine Star
This was my book growing up, and I loved the Polk Street School series! I’ve been reading this one to my 9-year-old this week, and he really likes it. I would recommend the entire series, but if you want a Valentine-specific edition, you can jump right into this without having read the others. The students in Ms. Rooney’s class are making Valentines for each other and their teacher, but Emily Arrow is too focused on her new enemy, Sherri Dent, to focus on Valentine’s Day. It’s an easy read, and kids will identify with misunderstandings between friends and trying to impress the teacher. I’m so happy that this still holds up today!

Pee Wee Scouts: That Mushy Stuff
This was also my book growing up, and I have quite a few of the Pee Wee Scouts books too. The Pee Wee Scouts series is about a group of, you guessed it, Pee Wee Scouts, a group loosely based on Cub Scouts, with boys and girls. They earn badges together, play together, and get into trouble together. In this one, there is some mushy stuff, so be aware! A boy likes a girl, and while the Scouts are working on first aid merit badges, they also learn how to make Valentines with secret messages inside. The Scouts can’t decide which they like more, bandages or Valentines!

Middle Grade/YA

Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble
We got this book in our OwlCrateJr box for February, and while my kids are not interested in it, I definitely am! I love the premise, and it takes place in Texas! Leonora Logrono’s family owns a bakery in Rose Hill and is getting ready for one of the biggest holidays of the year, Dia de los Muertos. (The Day of the Dead, and it is a big celebration all over Texas-our favorite local bakery sells tons of sugar skull cookies around that time!) Leonora really wants to help her family prepare this year, but she is still too young. When she sneaks off to the bakery late one night, she discovers that the women in her family are witches. And not just any witches, but brujas, witches of Mexican ancestry. Leonora realizes she has the same magic inside her, and has to decide whether or not to use it to help a friend. I am SO excited to read this book, and I love that it is going to introduce kids to a whole new culture. Being from Texas (I grew up in a border town as well), I grew up surrounded by this holiday, but a lot of people don’t understand it. It’s a celebration of the dead, and an important holiday to the Hispanic culture. If you have an older child who wants a book with a lot of magic, and a little bit of that Valentine’s love thrown in, give this one a try. As soon as I’ve read it I’ll post a review, but it looks fantastic!

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The Unread Shelf Project 2018/Bucket List Book Club

Whitney/theunreadshelf

If you’re like me, or even a fraction like me, chances are you have a few unread books in your house. Maybe you have a stack on your nightstand, a stack on the floor, or several shelves dedicated to those unread books. Me? I have all three of those. I started adding up my unread books, and they top 130. I don’t really have a problem with this, because I love books, but I DO want to read them, and obviously had every intention of reading them when I bought them. Luckily, Whitney at The Unread Shelf started The Unread Shelf Project 2018 on Instagram, so that we can all endeavor to read more of our unread books in 2018.

There are no hard and fast rules. This project is what you make of it. Some people are going on complete book buying bans. (I can’t do that. Louise Penny is the reason.) Some people are planning to read a certain number of their unread books per month. My personal goal is to read 1-3 books off of my unread books shelf/shelves/stacks/piles each month, leaving room for new books and books I feel like reading.

In addition, I’m starting the Bucket List Book Club so that we can read a few of these books together! (Some of these books I’ve had on my shelf for 20 years!) You can check out our dedicated Bucket List Book Club page HERE! I will keep a comprehensive list of books, posts, and additional reading on that page.

If you want to join in, go follow @theunreadshelf on Instagram and follow her hashtag as well, #theunreadshelfproject2018.

I’ll be posting about this soon, but the first two books for the Bucket List Book Club will be:


A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

 


My Brilliant Friend: Neapolitan Novels, Book One

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2018 Reading Goals

I don’t often set goals, but when I do, they’re unrealistic.

It’s the time of year when everyone likes to set goals for the new year, and I’m no different. I’ve loved reading about other people’s goals, both for their personal lives and for their reading lives, and it’s made me think even harder about what I want my own goals to be.

As other people do, I often set grand, unrealistic goals for the year, and then feel the huge weight of disappointment when I am unable to reach even a fraction of them. I want this year to be different. I do have some goals, and working towards things is important to me, but this year I want my goals to be relaxed. More general in nature. Eat more veggies, move more, stress less, read books. Today I want to talk about my reading goals for 2018.

I read a lot of books in 2017. 70, plus all of the books I read to my kids, including 4.5 Harry Potter books. I LOVE that I read that much, but I would really like to be a bit more deliberate in my reading choices in 2018. I am participating in the Unreadshelf Project on Instagram, which entails making an effort to read the books that have been languishing, unread, on my shelves for years. And instead of setting a number of books that I want to read (that just sounds stressful), I’m instead choosing 12 categories of books that I want to try and read this year. In an effort to be more intentional about my reading, but not forceful, I want to plan 2-4 books each month, and leave the rest to whatever I feel like reading. These planned books could include books from my unread shelf, from my categories (listed below), Advanced Reader Copies, or any other book that I want to make sure to read.

Some of these categories I will have no problem hitting. (I’m reading a suspense novel now, and there are several historical fiction books I’m planning to read.) Others are categories that I want to try more of (science fiction and poetry/verse), so I’m challenging myself to read at least 1 book in each of those categories. I also want to read more diverse books, and I have the Diverse Books Club to help with that. (You should join if you haven’t already!) And just to be clear, these are very basic reading categories that are personal goals for me. (Modern Mrs. Darcy has an awesome reading challenge with fun categories-I’m planning on incorporating mine into hers as well.)

Do you set yearly reading goals or challenges? I’m hoping to have a document to share by the end of next week in case you want to join in with me, or just create your own categories! Let me know what you hope to read in 2018 and how you want to challenge your reading life.

Reading Categories for 2018

  • Non-fiction
  • Historical fiction
  • Science fiction
  • Suspense
  • Memoir
  • Humor
  • Fantasy
  • Literary fiction
  • Personal development
  • Poetry/verse
  • Seasonal
  • Classic literature
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