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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Monday, June 6, 2016

Weekly Reading Recap

book and coffee

It's Monday again and time for another reading recap. I'm nearing the end of the Sci-Fi Summer Read-a-Thon, hosted by Michelle at Seasons of Reading and haven't gotten as far in the book I chose for that as I was hoping. I'll do a bit more reading tonight and tomorrow night and see if I can make it to the end. Hopefully I'll have enough time to spend reading.


What I'm reading

So what am I reading for the readathon? It's The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey. I'm really enjoying it and excited to see how it ends. Once I finish that, I will go back to The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. Two very different books!

After that, I think I will pick up Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, which is my June book club selection, as long as it becomes available from the library in time! 

What I'm writing


I wrote a review last week of The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton, who has become one of my favorite authors.


What my kids are reading

M, who is in 3rd grade, finished Wonderstruck by Brian Seltzner. I then picked up Who Was Anne Frank by Ann Abramson at the library because her friend just did a project on Anne Frank. She liked that one. Tomorrow, her paperback of The Land of Stories: Beyond the Kingdoms by Chris Colfer should arrive in the mail. She's looking forward to diving into that.

Carter, who is in 6th grade, read a book that I chose from the library for myself ~ Macbeth #killingit (OMG Shakespeare) by William Shakespeare and Courtney Carbone ~ and then read it that night before I had a chance to look at it. Once I did, I realized there's some language and suggestive content (although all done through emojis and things like WTF). It is pretty funny though, but a little tough for this 40-something to read. I'm guessing it would be most interesting to high schoolers who are also reading the original.

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!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Book Review: The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

Book cover of The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

Laurel Nicholson has a secret. When she was 16 years old, she witnessed a shocking crime, but she never told a soul about it. Now, 50 years later, she is drawn to uncover the truth behind the crime before her mother, Dorothy, the one person who knows the truth, dies. Dorothy is remembering her past as a young woman in London during the Blitz, before she met Laurel's father and became a loving wife and mother. Her past is what Laurel needs to uncover if she is to understand the motive behind the crime.

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton is an epic drama full of mystery and family secrets. Laurel's story was a bit more relatable as she is in more modern times, dealing with an aging, dying mother and her family all around her. Dorothy, on the other hand, lives in 1940s London and longs to be more than she was born into. She latches onto a woman who epitomizes what she wants her life to be, while struggling to hold onto the hometown boy who is content with what he already has.

I loved the way the story was built up and the truth was drawn out. The relationships that Morton creates are so real and the characters true. It was hard to reconcile the mother that Laurel knew and the woman she had been in London, who was a bit more difficult to like. But everyone changes to some extent as they age, especially when tragedy strikes. And it all made sense in the end. 

I loved Morton's The Forgotten Garden, but I found The Secret Keeper to be a bit less complicated than that since it's only two different time periods to keep track of. The story was intriguing and mysterious but easy to follow. And the characters were easy to care for.

If you're looking for an engrossing story that will pull you in and offer up plenty of surprises, I highly recommend The Secret Keeper.

My Rating:

Read my other Kate Morton review:
The Forgotten Garden

This review was written based on a copy of The Secret Keeper that I purchased. 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.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Weekly Reading Recap

book and coffee

I want to start today by honoring all of the servicemen and women who have given their lives for their country, and thank you to those who continue to put their lives in danger to protect ours. I hope all of my readers are spending time with loved ones this weekend. My daughter and I have had a very lazy weekend reading and watching all eight Harry Potter movies. We were supposed to be in Tennessee with my husband and son, but M has been sick and so we stayed home. Thankfully, her fever is finally gone, after five full days of temps in the 102-104 range. She'll be heading back to school tomorrow; she hasn't been since last Tuesday!


What I'm reading

I finished the middle-grade book The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer. I then read Mystic Summer by Hannah McKinnon and The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Seltzner.

Now I am reading The Red Tent by Anita Diamant at the recommendation of Andrea from Good Girl Gone Redneck. The Kindle edition is on sale for $2.99 so I couldn't resist!

Next I will move on to The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey. The Sci-Fi Summer Read-a-Thon, hosted by Michelle at Seasons of Reading, starts on Wednesday.

What I'm writing


I didn't manage to write any reviews last week, but I did sign up for the Big Book Summer Reading Challenge hosted by Sue at Book By Book. I already read the first book on my list ~ Hugo Cabret. I'll be starting the second on Wednesday. After that, I'm not sure what I will read; however, I have been considering finally tackling the Harry Potter books this summer and several of those qualify for big books!



What my kids are reading

M, who is in 3rd grade, has read so many books this past week, I'm not sure I can remember all of them. The two big ones were Charlotte's Web by E.B. White and The Invention of Hugo Cabret. We also got a copy of The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester so she could keep up with her school reading group since she's been out sick. And she has started Wonderstruck by Brian Seltzner.

Carter, who is in 6th grade, took the last two books in The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica series by James A. Owen to Tennessee with him. I'll find out later today if he finished them. Then we'll be on a mission to find something new for him. M has plenty of books on our shelves to choose from but Carter has already read all of them!

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!