Sunday, August 28, 2016

Summer recap

book and coffee

And another month has gone by without a peep from me. I sure have been enjoying my summer, though. Tomorrow, the kids start a new school year and things may get back to a normal routine in my house. Perhaps that will extend to a normal routine on my blog too. I've been blogging here for just about 8 years and I don't want to stop sharing my thoughts on books, so I'll find a way!

Last summer, we went on several big trips; this summer we went on just one: NYC in June. Other than that it's been mostly a staycation for my kids and I think they've really enjoyed it. Yes, there was lots of screen time for Carter, but they had fun with their friends and read a ton of books and M enjoyed a few weeks of camp. I think we'd all rate it as a good break. Now it's back to school ~ 7th and 4th this year!! It's hard to believe when I started this blog, Carter was just learning to read and M was a toddler!

What I'm reading

In August, I read four books.



I gave Calling Me Home and The Outsiders 5 stars and the other two books 4 stars, so overall it was a great month of reading!!

I had never read The Outsiders but Carter needed it for school, and when it arrived in my mailbox on Friday I couldn't resist reading it myself! I loved the movie; the book made me cry just as much. My book club will be discussing Calling Me Home this week and I'm looking forward to it.

The Big Book Summer Reading Challenge is coming to a close next week. Unfortunately, none of these books were over 400 pages. But I have Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty sitting next to me and I'm determined to finish it by Labor Day so I can add one more book to my list for that challenge.

What my kids are reading

M, who is a 4th grader, finished Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty and is now reading Serafina and the Twisted Staff. She also read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling in August.

Carter, who is a 7th grader, read The Siege by Mark Alpert. He also read the new Harry Potter book and a few others: Crisis Zero by Chris Rylander (see our review of the first in that series) and The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen. He is now reading the rest of the Nielsen series since I was smart enough to get all three books from the library at one time!

Book links in this post are Amazon Affiliate links. I'm linking up with Book Date for It's Monday! What Are You Reading? as well as Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts for the children's and YA version of this weekly gathering.

What are you reading? Please share in the comments!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Book Review: Wars of the Roses: Bloodline by Conn Iggulden

Today, I'm excited to welcome back my good friend Kelly Gropp, founder/blogger/editor of Chubs Lived Here lifestyle blog. Kelly is here to review Wars of the Roses: Bloodline by Conn Iggulden.

About the reviewer: Kelly has nearly done it all yet is still plugging away at her bucket list with style! Kelly is an imperfect DIYer who refuses to hang up her tool belt, and is a struggling runner who has committed to finishing a 5K in every state. She is your neighbor, your co-worker, and your best friend. Her career as a legal secretary at one of the country’s top international law firms doesn’t keep her from reading and writing for enjoyment, decorating and redecorating, advocating for pit bull type dogs, and sharing the mishmash we call life. Oh, she is a cancer survivor too! You’ll be entertained as you follow Kelly’s journey at Chubs Lived Here.


War of the Roses: Bloodline book cover
Review of Wars of the Roses: Bloodline by Conn Iggulden
By Kelly Gropp

A king is being held in the tower, another claims the throne, and a trusted life-long family confidant feels forsaken. Set amidst the bloodiest battle fought on English soil--the Battle of Towton, Conn Iggulden's novel, Wars of the Roses: Bloodline, graphically captures not only the barbarous battle that claimed 28,000 lives, but also the contrast of honor versus indignity, trust versus betrayal, and love versus hate.

I jumped into this series with book #3, Bloodline, and was worried I would be lost. It took a few chapters to get the characters sorted, and then I truly enjoyed this book. I am a fan of historical fiction, and Bloodline was excellent.

The question of any character being fictional never crossed my mind because each was written extraordinarily well. Iggulden also painted the landscape and lifestyle so that I felt I was watching a movie in my mind. He skillfully conveyed the harshness and brutality of the time.

I felt a strong sense of what motivated the protagonists, why they felt threatened, and what was at stake for each. This narrative of the Lancasters, Yorks and Nevilles is fascinating, not only because of its historical value, but also because this is a page turner. This has become one of my favorite historical fiction pieces, and I can't wait to read books #1 and #2!

About the author
Conn Iggulden is the author of two previous series on Julius Caesar and on the Mongol Khans of Central Asia and also the co-author of The Dangerous Book for Boys. Conn lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and children.

From the author's website: I was born in the normal way in 1971, and vaguely remember half-pennies and sixpences. I have written for as long as I can remember: poetry, short stories and novels. It’s what I always wanted to do and read English at London University with writing in mind. I taught English for seven years and was Head of English at St. Gregory’s RC High School in London by the end of that period. I have enormous respect for those who still labour at the chalk-face. In truth, I can’t find it in me to miss the grind of paperwork and initiatives. I do miss the camaraderie of the smokers’ room, as well as the lessons where their faces lit up as they understood what I was wittering on about.

This review was written based on a copy of Wars of the Roses: Bloodline that I received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This post includes Amazon Affiliate links. If you purchase something using my link, I will receive a very small commission but your price does not change. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Reading Recap

book and coffee

Once again, it's been a while since I wrote anything here. But I have been keeping up with the reading and keeping very busy with work and kids home on summer vacation. Due to some medical issues, we've been spending a lot of time at home this month, so there have been plenty of movies, board games and jigsaw puzzles going on in this house. It's actually been fun spending time as a family on these activities ~ and reading, of course.


What I'm reading

Since my last update, I've read two books.

  

Now I am reading Summer House by Nancy Thayer, a nice, easy summer read.

What I'm writing

Once again, I haven't published anything recently, and while I mentioned that I was going to join the Sit Down and Write write-a-thon, clearly that didn't help motivate me to write! I did write one review recently, but won't be publishing it for another month to coincide with the book release. I do have a guest review coming up in the next day or two from my friend Kelly at Chubs Lived Here. She reviewed War of the Roses: Bloodline by Conn Iggulden, so be sure to stop by and read her review on the weekend.

What my kids are reading

M, who is a rising 4th grader, finished The BFG by Roald Dahl. She then received The Land of Stories: An Author's Journey by Chris Colfer the day it was released and immediately read right through it, as did her brother. Now she is reading Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty.

The Six by Mark Alpert and The Trials of Apollo by Rick RiordanCarter, who is a rising 7th grader, got two books at a recent trip to Barnes and Noble and has already read both. The first was The Trials of Apollo by Rick Riordan, and the second was The Six by Mark Alpert. He has already asked to read the second book in the Alpert series. I'm considering reading that one myself.

Book links in this post are Amazon Affiliate links. I'm linking up with Book Date for It's Monday! What Are You Reading? as well as Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts for the children's and YA version of this weekly gathering.

What are you reading? Please share in the comments!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Reading Recap: June

book and coffee

Hello there. Thanks for stopping by. It's been almost a month since my last blog post! I'm getting worse rather than better at this whole writing thing. I've been busy with life and dreading getting back on my computer after work, even if it is to do something fun like talk about books! Hopefully I can get motivated since I have several reviews to catch up on. In the meantime, I thought I'd tell you about my month.

June was an eventful month, that's for sure. My kids finished school; C is now a rising 7th grader and M is a rising 4th grader. They are both still avid readers and have already read several books each this summer. Since school ended, we've had M's dance recital, their piano recital, and we took a family trip to NYC. That was a blast! We went to the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the World Trade Center, Central Park, Times Square, and to two shows: The Phantom of the Opera and Wicked. It was so much fun!

I've been finding some time to read along the way as well. Here's what I've been reading lately.

What I'm reading

Since my last update, I've read three books.



The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey was a great sci-fi novel about aliens invading Earth. I don't think I'll continue the series, but I will watch the movie at some point.

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter was my June book club selection. It was okay, but I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had realized that it was supposed to be satirical. My whole book club felt the same way. When the host read the second discussion question that mentioned it being a social satire, we all suddenly got it!

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant was recommended by my friend Andrea at Good Girl Gone Redneck. I enjoyed this story of a girl growing up during biblical times. It reminded me of The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks, another novel that is based on biblical figures. 

I'm now trying to decide what to read next. I'm actually taking a day off from reading so I can get some blog writing done and then I have a few books on my bookshelf and several on my Kindle that I can choose from. I'm not sure which will be next.

What I'm writing


Stories InsideI haven't published anything recently, but I am going to spend some time this weekend writing book reviews. I need to catch up on several reviews, including the three books mentioned above. I have several that I read a few months ago as well, so I may come up with a shortened review format for those. That way I can at least get them published so you can see what I thought of them!

To help with this effort, I've decided to join the Sit Down and Write write-a-thon. I'm hoping to focus on getting back to writing in July.

What my kids are reading


M, who is now a rising 4th grader, finished all of the published books in The Land of Stories series by Chris Colfer. She's anxiously awaiting the arrival of the next book in the series when it publishes next week. She also read Savvy by Ingrid Law and Matilda by Roald Dahl. She's now halfway through The BFG by Roald Dahl.

Carter, who is now a rising 7th grader, is studying World War I with a friend, so he read The War to End all Wars: World War I by Russell Freedman and Truce: The Day the Soldiers Stopped Fighting by Jim Murphy. He has also read a few novels since my last update but we already returned them to the library and I can't remember the titles! I do know that he also read one of the Land of Stories books that he hadn't gotten to yet, Matilda and The BFG; I just can't remember the rest.

Book links in this post are Amazon Affiliate links. I'm linking up with Book Date for It's Monday! What Are You Reading? as well as Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts for the children's and YA version of this weekly gathering.

What are you reading? Please share in the comments!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Book Review and Giveaway: Mystic Summer by Hannah McKinnon


Maggie Griffin's comfortable life in Boston, with a challenging teaching job, a lifelong friend as roommate and a handsome boyfriend is starting to unravel. A potential layoff, her friend's upcoming wedding and the boyfriend's new coworker all come together to throw things a bit off-kilter. Then a trip home to Mystic, Connecticut, to help her friend with wedding plans brings her ex-boyfriend, Cameron, into the picture. It certainly makes for an interesting summer.

Mystic Summer by Hannah McKinnon is a wonderful summer read. It made me feel like summer was already here. I enjoyed following Maggie as she makes her way through many changes on a path to a more fulfilling life. While there is a bit of a romantic storyline, it's more about Maggie's relationships with friends and family, and her quest to figure out what she wants out of her future.

This was an easy, light read but definitely engaging and it even dealt with some serious topics along the way. I found the dichotomy of Maggie's life view and her sister's to be engrossing, as her sister is married with some very challenging kids, and Maggie is just in the dating phase of life. Each seems to be envious of the other, yet they also recognize the challenges that each face in their phase of life as well.

If you're looking for a great summer read, I highly recommend Mystic Summer.

My Rating:


Connect with the author on her website, Facebook and Twitter
Check out more reviews on the book tour!

This review was written based on a copy of Mystic Summer that I received from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This post includes Amazon Affiliate links. If you purchase something using my link, I will receive a very small commission but your price does not change.

GIVEAWAY


Thanks to TLC Book Tours, I have a copy of Mystic Summer by Hannah McKinnon to give away to one of my readers with a US or Canadian mailing address. To enter, fill out the following Rafflecopter. Winner will be chosen at midnight on June 13.

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