Category: Book Lists

A Bookish Father’s Day Gift Guide

Well, Father’s Day is upon us, and as usual, I have ordered a few gifts for my dad at the last minute!! I always include at least one book for him at every gift-giving opportunity, and since we like to read a lot of the same things, it’s always fun to try and find something he doesn’t have yet. (Which can be very, very difficult!) I’m featuring a few of my favorites that I’ve given to my dad, some that I’ve loved that I think others would love, and some that I think new dads (or all dads) need! Let me know in the comments any book suggestions you have for Father’s Day!

New Dads

*The Wishing Star by M. Christina Butler, illustrated by Frank Endersby (My kids loved this book for years, and it’s a wonderful book to read aloud. The cover and illustrations are beautiful, and it’s really a perfect book to gift a new dad to read to his child.)
*Pops: Fatherhood in Pieces by Michael Chabon (This is a collection of short stories written by Chabon about his own experience with being a dad. They’re funny, witty, and will also make you think a little. But not too much. Because dads are tired.)

Non-Fiction

*The Flying Tigers: The Untold Story of the American Pilots Who Waged a Secret War Against Japan by Sam Kleiner (This is a new book that I will be giving to my dad on Sunday. He loves history, so this is right in his wheelhouse!)
*Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann (Read my review HERE. This is such an amazing story, and it’s being made into a movie, so you can read it with your dad and then go see the movie!)
*In Shock: My Journey from Death to Recovery and the Redemptive Power of Hope by Dr. Rana Awdish (Dr. Awdish tells the story of how she went from being a young doctor to a dying patient and how that transformed not only her views on life, but the way she wanted to practice as a physician. I got this one for my husband, since he’s in medicine, on the recommendation of another doctor friend. It sounds amazing!)
*All Over But the Shoutin’ by Rick Bragg (Rick Bragg is the king of southern memoirs, and I gave this one to my dad a long time ago. It’s one of my favorite books, and Bragg will always be a favorite author.)

Historical Fiction

*The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard (This is the fictionalized telling of the real story about the women who unknowingly worked on the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. It’s such an interesting story, and perfect for history fans.)
*News of the World by Paulette Jiles (This is one my parents gave to me, so I know it has to be good! It’s about a journey through Texas after the Civil War, and it’s also only 240 pages, so if your dad needs a quick read, this is a great one.)

Fiction

*A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (Read my review HERE.)
*Beartown by Fredrik Backman (Yes, two Backman books, that’s how much I love him. I just finished reading this, and I think it’s such a beautiful, important book about a small town, sports, and what people are willing to do to cover up secrets in order to keep a sports team in tact.)
*Empire Falls by Richard Russo (I absolutely love this book. It’s another book about a small town and how people live there. It’s well-written and really dives into the human spirit and how people survive.)
*Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg (One of my dad’s and my favorites! Read the book together and then watch the movie, which is actually amazing.)

Cooking

*Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys by Lucinda Scala Quinn (Y’all. I know. A cookbook for Father’s Day? HEAR ME OUT. Lucinda is the queen of cooking for me-her recipes work, they are delicious, the stories she incorporates into her cookbooks-I own them all-are wonderful, and all the boys and men in my family love everything I make out of this cookbook. This is a fun one, and if your dad likes to cook, or you like to cook together, this would be a wonderful addition to a cookbook collection.)

Travel

With the exception of Dispatches from Pluto, which I already owned, I bought the rest of the books listed here for my dad and I to both read! There are so many amazing travel books out right now.

*Dispatches from Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta by Richard Grant (I recommended this one in my Mother’s Day Gift Guide, and I want to leave it here too. It’s so good, and I think a dad who loves reading about travel and different parts of the country would love it. Read my review HERE.)
*The Traveling Feast: On the Road and at the Table with My Heroes by Rick Bass (This is exactly what it sounds like-Bass traveled with the goal of creating meals for each of his mentors. It sounds so fun-who wouldn’t love to be able to spend one-on-one time in our later years with those who made an impact on us throughout our lives?)
*Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time by Mark Adams (I kind of can’t believe I haven’t given this to my dad yet. At the time, the author had never so much as slept in a tent, but he decided to re-create the exact trail that the man who found Machu Picchu took with one guide.)
*Tip of the Iceberg: My 3,000-Mile Journey Around Wild Alaska, the Last Great American Frontier by Mark Adams (Yup, same author as Turn Right at Machu Picchu! This time, Adams wanted to re-create Edward H. Harriman’s 1899 railroad expedition. Through Alaska. If your dad loves to travel, has been to Alaska, or wants to go, this sounds like the perfect book to have an armchair adventure in.)

Books to Buddy Read with Dad!

My dad has very strong memories of what his favorite books were as a child, and I know some of my favorite moments as a parent have been when my kids love a book that I read as a child. So I think a really fun idea would be to give your dad a copy of his favorite childhood book, or a classic childhood adventure book, and buddy read it together! It would be so meaningful, and fun-I don’t think bookish people get tired of those favorite childhood classics!
*Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
*The Adventures of Robin Hood by Roger Lancelyn Green
*Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
*White Fang by Jack London
*The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

Summer Reading 2018: Taking Back My TBR!

It’s that time again! Summer, when we all make plans to read ALL THE BOOKS. I’m doing the same thing, but I’m also doing something a little differently (for me) this year. As much as I love receiving advanced copies of books from publishers (and one of the books is one of those) and digital review copies of books, I can also get very bogged down with all of the things that I “have” to read. So this summer I’m coming up with a list of books I want to read. And that’s the only requirement. Yes, I will still be reading and reviewing my publisher copies, but I want to make a lot more time for books I want to read, whether they’re backlist, new, and in between. Today I’m sharing 15 books I’ve been wanting to read, and I will be putting them first as much as possible this summer! The rest of the books I read will be a combination of planned books and last-minute picks! Tell me what books you’re excited to read this summer, and if you’ve read any on my list tell me what you thought!

(Be sure to check my Instagram account very soon for a giveaway I’m really excited about!)


Beartown

This is our June Bucket List Book Club pick, along with the sequel, Us Against You (out June 5), and it’s because I’ve been wanting to read it for what feels like forever! Fredrik Backman is one of my very favorite authors, and I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about Beartown. Beartown is a small community where everyone knows everyone. The town has come together over the possibility of the local hockey league winning a national semi-final game. That game ends with a violent act that begins the action of the rest of the novel. Beartown is about small communities and how close, and far apart, the people who live there can become. And because it’s Backman, I know the writing is going to be stellar.

 

Anne of Avonlea

This is the second book in L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series, and I’ve been wanting to re-read it all year! In this sequel, Anne becomes a schoolteacher, has more adventures at Green Gables, and continues her friendship with Gilbert Blythe. I love this series so much, and if anyone else is looking for a warm, funny, surprisingly poignant series, I would love for you to read along with me!


Emily of New Moon

I know some people consider themselves Anne girls, and some people consider themselves Emily girls. I’ve never read Emily of New Moon, also my L.M. Montgomery, and it’s been sitting on my shelf for almost a year. Emily is different from Anne, but I really trust Montgomery, so I’m excited to read about her adventures. Like Anne, Emily is an orphan, and she goes to live with relatives at New Moon Farm. While her relatives aren’t exactly kind and welcoming, she makes friends and might start to finally feel at home.

 


Crazy Rich Asians

Another book I’ve wanted to read for quite awhile! Now that it’s being made into a movie (out August 15), I definitely want to read it this summer so that I can see it. (Book before movie, people, book before movie.) Rachel Chu and her boyfriend Nick Young live in New York. When Rachel agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with Nick and his family, she’s not expecting for his home to basically be a palace and to realize that his family is rich and famous. Rachel has to navigate her new view of Nick, in addition to his relatives and other people who might not have her best interests at heart. This is the first in a trilogy, and seems like a fantastic option if you like family sagas, which I do!

 


The Ensemble

The Ensemble was released on May 15, and when I heard Annie B. Jones talk about it on her podcast (From the Front Porch), I immediately added it to my must read list. It’s not something I would usually go for (except for that gorgeous cover), but she made it sound so good that I already have it in from my library holds! It’s the story of four friends who all play classical music together in their group, the Van Ness Quartet. Seems benign, but as a group they go through failures and successes, ups and downs, and all the hard things that friendships can go through. It is getting wonderful reviews, and I love finding books by debut authors!

 


Lilac Girls

Lilac Girls has been on my TBR forever, and when Katie (at Katie Lady Reads) sent it to me and said it was her favorite book of the year so far, I knew I needed to finally get it read! It takes place during WWII when the Nazis invade Poland and then turn to France. This particular WWII story is told through the eyes of three women: New Yorker Caroline, Polish Kasia, and German Herta. I really love how war stories about women are becoming more prevalent-they played a huge role and often went unnoticed and unthanked. I am so ready to lose myself in this story and find out what happens to these three women.

 


How to Walk Away

This book was my Book of the Month selection for May-when I saw that Taylor Jenkins Reid recommended it (another one of my favorite authors), I added it to my box immediately. It’s part romance, part drama, and deals with how a person might react when put into an impossible situation, and I am always here for that. Margaret Jacobsen has a new fiance, a great job, and a perfect life. When an accident lands her in the hospital at the beginning of the novel, she has to deal with her whole world falling apart, and figure out if what has been important to her still is, and if she still has the ability to let people in.

 


The High Tide Club

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for the free copy of this book! I have read every one of Mary Kay Andrews’ books, and this one looks just as good as the rest, maybe even better. Her books feel like summer to me, so this one is on my must-read summer list as well. Like so many of the books I love, this is about a group of women who were best friends and kept all each other’s secrets. Fast forward decades later, and only one is still alive. Josephine hires an attorney, Brooke Trappnell, to find the descendants of her friends so that she can make amends . . . and maybe solve a murder.

 


Dumplin’

I feel like I’m the last person to read this book, and I need to correct that. Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’ is a YA novel about a high school girl, Willowdean, whose former beauty pageant mom nicknames her Dumplin’. This is a coming of age novel about how a non-stick-figure girl shows everyone that size doesn’t matter. And she does it by entering the Miss Teen Bluebonnet Pageant. I am ALL IN for a book that shows teens (and let’s be honest, adults) that a body is just that, a body, and it’s what in your heart and mind that really counts. We could use a lot more of this type of story. (And it takes place in Texas. Which just makes it even better.)

 


Puddin’

Puddin’ is the sequel to Dumplin’ and I intend to read them both this summer! I believe this is more of a companion novel and follows a few side characters from Dumplin’, but the sentiment is the same. This book follows Millie Michalchuk (a fat camp graduate) and Callie Reyes (the popular and pretty dance team captain) and their unlikely friendship. I honestly can’t wait to read this one. (And again, it’s in Texas!)

 


A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses)

This is a novella in the Court of Thorns and Roses series, and while I’m a little wary (I loved the first two books in the original trilogy and felt let down by the third), I still can’t wait to go back to the Night Court and see what Feyre and Rhysand are up to. They are rebuilding from the devastating events of the last novel, and are about to celebrate the Winter Solstice. But of course, the dark clouds never really go away, and Feyre will have to navigate those while learning how to be the High Lady of the Night Court. I believe this novella is meant to be a bridge between the original trilogy and the next, so I’m interested to see how Sarah Maas connects them.

 


Campaign Widows

Let’s be honest. Regardless of your political affiliation (or lack of affiliation, as a lot of find ourselves these days), the political world can be fascinating. Cutthroat, fast-paced, and never the same from one day to the next. But what about the spouses? I love stories about the other side of big things, and Campaign Widows is just that: the story of a group of women in Washington, D.C., who become “widows” when their husbands go on the campaign trail. This seems gossipy, juice, and based in just enough fact to make me wonder how much of it is actually true.

 


Son of the Dawn (Ghosts of the Shadow Market Book 1)

Are you a Cassandra Clare fan? If you’re not, what are you even doing with your life?? Just kidding! Kind of. If you like fantasy, please, please go read her books. All of them. Her Shadowhunters series (The Mortal Instruments, The Infernal Devices, and The Dark Artifices) are some of my favorites, and unlike other authors, her books truly get better with each new one. Ghosts of the Shadow Market are a series of short stories about the characters from those series and are meant to give more insight to them and what they’ve been up to. (And I think they’re meant to tide us over until her next book comes out!) These look quick and short, and I can’t wait to read them all.

 


The Arrangement

So this is not a book I would normally pick up. It’s about a married couple who, having fallen into all the trappings of a traditional, suburban life, decide to make theirs an open marriage for six months as an experiment. At first glance, this is not my type of book. But when Knox McCoy greenlit it as a favorite book on The Popcast, I changed my mind. On the surface, yes, this is a book about an open marriage. But what it really seems to be about is marriage, relationships, and how the people in that relationship change when pressure is applied. And as I’m sure you can tell from a lot of this list, I do love books about what happens to regular people when put into extraordinary circumstances.

 

Class Mom

This is such a fitting book to end my summer TBR list with. Y’all, I am ready for school the be out and to not have to sign up for 10,000 things on 5,000 SignUpGeniuses. (But I love SignUpGenius. Don’t mistake end of year burnout for hatred of the SignUpGenius.) This book is what it looks like: a book about the different types of moms, how they try to contribute to their children’s classrooms, and how hilarious it can be when trying to get all of these moms to work together and agree. Now that it’s summer, I’m definitely ready to laugh about it. It seems like a lighter, bookish version of the movie Bad Moms, and I can’t wait!

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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.

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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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