Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2018

Favorite Reads of 2018

Woooowww. This has been a LONG year. How long? When I was going through my highest rated books on Goodreads, I was floored to realized the last Penderwick book came out this year. It feels longer.

Here are my top reads of the year. These books were truly something because they pulled me out of my funk long enough to actually read them AND enjoy them.

Links are to my reviews


A Sky Full of Starsby Linda Williams Jackson

The Lost Books: The Scroll of Kings by Sarah Prineas 

The Girl with the Dragon Heart by Stephanie Burgis (Review Coming!)

The Penderwicks at Lastby Jeanne Birdsall

Patina by Jason Reynolds 

Free Fall by Emma Barry & Genevieve Turner

Murder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones

Shadowhouse Fall by Daniel José Older

What are your favorite reads from this past year?

Hello! I'm Still Here

Hey everyone! It's been a while. This has been a year in which I read very few new to me books. And I just haven't had the energy or desire to write. Honestly it's been a year where I've been able to do very little of what I love. The end of December is often a time of reflection, and as I reflect over this past year, I wonder where it all went, and what I was doing with myself.

Teaching. Getting back into the groove of that and working with my own kids are definitely the good parts of this year. Other than that...

I think I was just finally reacting to the stress of that past few years. We moved houses three times in three years, states twice, and lost both of my husband's parents in that time. I think all of that finally caught up with me and just consumed...everything.

Don't get me wrong. A lot of wonderful things happened this year too. I was able to see Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, and Mean Girls in New York City while spending an amazing time with my daugh…

Future Favorites Friday

I take the 2nd Friday of every month to highlight some upcoming releases I am looking forward to that I hope are Future Favorites. Feel free to do your own post, just please link back to my blog and tell me about your post in the comments.
I love Anne Ursu's books and her Twitter. She is a fabulous human and a talented writer. It feels like way too long since we've received a new book from her, but our wait is almost over.

When you’re an identical twin, your story always starts with someone else. For Iris, that means her story starts with Lark. Iris has always been the grounded, capable, and rational one; Lark has been inventive, dreamy, and brilliant—and from their first moments in the world together, they’ve never left each other’s side. Everyone around them realized early on what the two sisters already knew: they had better outcomes when they were together.

When fifth grade arrives, however, it is decided that Iris and Lark should be split into different classrooms, and som…

Ghost Boys

Joining a list of excellent books that includes The Hate U Give and  All American Boys amongst others, Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes is a story about police violence and racial prejudice toward African American boys. What makes it stand out for me is that it is the first MG novel on the topic we've gotten. Yes, I do think it's MG even if my library shelves it in the Teen section. (I have THOUGHTS on this.)

Jerome is enjoying a bit of rare freedom to play outside when someone calls the police on him. He has a toy gun (one he knows his family would not approve of him playing with). The officers who arrive on the scene don't ask questions. They just shoot. Now Jerome is a ghost hovering around as his family grieves. The only living being who can actually see him is the daughter of the man who took his life. Sarah is struggling with implications of her father's actions and the reality of the boy she is getting to know. Joining Jerome and Sarah is the ghost of Emmet Til…

School Starts

The best part about being back in Knoxville is that we are once again reunited with our Homeschool Co-op, which means I'm once again teaching classes of kids literature. This is what I love doing more than anything else. It does mean that I have been very busy preparing lesson plans and have had less time for reading and keeping up with this blog. I know posts have been sporadic anyway since the move, but I felt like I was going to get back to a regular schedule eventually. I can't imagine that will be the case anymore. It doesn't mean I'm quitting. Just that things are going to continue the same way they have for the past year. When I get the chance to post, it can be a pleasant surprise for all of us. That being said I do post bookish content more frequently on both Litsy and Instagram. If you are on either of those platforms and care, I'm brandymuses on both.

I am truly excited about what I get to teach this year. School began this week, and, while not without i…

Shorter Musings: YA

Here are some shorter musings on recent reads.

Scytheby Neal Shusterman
I have had this on my list since it came out. Then I thought I might wait unlit the trilogy was finished. One of my teen book club girls chose it for our June book, so I read it earlier than intended. It is quite excellent. I am well and truly over dystopians, but this is so well done. I appreciated the philosophy and exercises in ethics found throughout, as well as the themes on the corruption of man and our lust for power. I also loved the adult characters in the book. They are truly fascinating. The two teen protagonists could have been developed a little better, which is the only reason this isn't getting 5 stars from me. (Funny thing is, this was the prevailing opinion of the teens too.)

Shadowhouse Fall by Daniel José Odler
I enjoyed this sequel to Shadowshaper. It is a broader book, requiring knowledge of both plot and characters for the previous book in order to fully enjoy it. (If you haven't read Sh…

Shorter Musings MG Historical Fiction Edition

Here are some shorter musings on three recent MG historical fiction reads.

Betty Before X by Ilyasah Shabazz and Renee Watson
This book is a narrative on the life of Betty Shabazz's childhood. This is the little girl who would grow up to be the wife of Malcom X and a community leader. It is considered fiction because of the way the story is told, but her daughter is one of the author's so the basic facts of Betty's life are true. The book is a short, quick read. It's perfect for kids who love historical fiction or stories about complicated families and friendships. I found it engaging and hard to book down.

The Journey of Charlie Littleby Christopher Paul Curtis
This book is about a share cropper's son who must travel with a slave catcher to Michigan in order to pay of a debt his father incurred before his tragic death. Charlie doesn't like the overseer he is indebted to and finds everything about their journey distasteful. I enjoyed this mostly because it is a …

Quarterly Review

Here is a round up of all the books I chose not to finish, adult reads, and favorite reads of the last three months.


The DNFs (with links to my reasons why on Goodreads):
The Good Daughterby Karin Slaughter

Adult Books
Beginner's Luck by Kate Clayborn (contemporary, romance)
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (historical, literary)
One and Only by Jenny Holiday (contemporary, romance)
A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole (contemporary, romance)


Favorites:

The Lost Books: The Scroll of Kings by Sarah Prineas Love, Life, and the Listby Kasie West

The Penderwicks at Last by Jeanne Birdsall

June Stats

Here are my reading stats for June with my favorite reads of the month.

Did you read any book in June you want to recommend?

Favorite Books of 2018 So Far....

As you can probably tell by how quiet it's been around here, this hasn't been the best year of reading for me as far as numbers go. There are a lot of reasons for this. The books I am reading though are great, and there have been some truly fantastic ones. Here are some of those:






What are your favorite books of the year so far?

The Lost Books: The Scroll of Kings

Sarah Prineas writes amazing books and I love and own them all. There are more than one copy of most of them in my house because my kids loved them too and need their own copies. I often get nervous when I read a new book from an author whose books I adore because there is the niggling worry that this will be the one I don't like. I'm becoming more and more convinced that's just never going to happen with Sarah's books. Her latest The Lost Books: The Scroll of Kings had me riveted from page one and made me feel real, true, unadulterated love for a book. Something I haven't felt in quite a while.

Disclaimer: This is a review of an early copy sent to me by the author who I am friendly with.

That was what a librarian was, he realized, and he wanted to curse himself for being so slow to figure it out. A librarian was not just a cataloger, a sweeper, a duster, a collector of grass, an alphabetizer, a keeper of keys. A librarian was a protector. Of books. 

Alex is a Librar…

Future Favorite Friday: June 2018

I take the 2nd Friday of every month to highlight some upcoming releases I am looking forward to that I hope are Future Favorites. Feel free to do your own post, just please link back to my blog and tell me about your post in the comments.

Two Naomis was one of my favorite reads of 2016 so I was understandably excited it's getting a sequel. 

In this sequel to Two Naomis, now that Naomi Marie’s mom and Naomi E.’s dad are married, the girls have learned to do a lot of things together, like All-Family Sunday dinners, sixth-grade homework, navigating the subway system by themselves, and visiting their favorite bakeries. Until sixth grade in a new school presents a whole new set of surprises and challenges.

Trusting her gut has worked for Naomi E. all her life, and she figures that it will be an asset to her role as a Peer Mediator—until she realizes how much of the job requires the Art of Compromise, which she’s only just starting to get used to at home.

Naomi Marie is excited about maki…

Love, Life, and the List

Kasie West is a must read author for me though a couple of her recently published books were not my favorites by any stretch. Her latest Love, Life, and the List is everything I fell in love about her books originally and is my favorite of her books so far.

Abby and Cooper have been best friends since 8th grade when Abby moved to town. Their group is rounded out by Rachel and Justin who are both leaving the country for the entirety of the summer. Abby and Cooper will spend a lot of time just the two of them. Abby doesn't consider this to be a problem even though she confessed her love to Cooper the previous year and then played it off as a joke when she saw the panicked look on his face. Having Cooper as a best friend is the best even with her unrequited love she can't get rid of. When Abby is rejected for an art show she has her heart set on because her work lacks depth and emotional maturity, Abby makes The Heart List-a list of things she will do over the summer to grow her h…

May Stats

Hey Everone! Here are my favorite May reads with general stats for the month. I didn't do a monthly stats report for March or April because I didn't read many new books and had no new favorites to add. But I seem to be getting my groove back this month. I even have TWO whole posts schedule for next week. GASP! One is the review for the favorite May read on the right and the other is the return of Future Favorites Friday. Hopefully I still have readers.

The Penderwicks at Last

The Penderwicks at Last by Jeanne Birdsall is the fifth and  final installment of the series that began with The Penderwicks: The Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy back in 2005. I awaited its release with equal parts excitement and trepidation. It's always hard to face the end of a favorite series, especially when one has developed Opinions about the characters and their destinies. I'm happy to report I was quite satisfied with the way Birdsall wrapped everything up. It is not anywhere close to my favorite book in the series, but it fulfills its purpose as a final volume well and is still quite excellent.

Most of the Penderwick children are grown and out of the house. Rosy and Jane both have apartments in their hometown. Skye is in Californian working on her post graduate degree. Batty is finishing up her first year at college in Boston. Honorary Penderwick Jeffrey has spent the last few years in Germany working on his music. Ben and Lydia are…

Shorter Musings MG

Here are some shorter musings on recent MG reads.

Beast & Crown by Joel Ross
I wasn't a huge fan of Ross' first works. It was a me thing. I've never been super into dystopia, and I was well and truly done with it by the time his first two books came out. This was much more my type of story. It is a quest fantasy with a great cast of characters to love and root for. The heart of this team is Ji, who is a snarky lying thief. (And yes, that is my character weak spot.) There is a great deal of treachery and plot twists. Definitely worth an addition to any MG shelves. I was a bit thrown out of the story due to the world being a weird mix of British manors and California culture, but the target audience is not going to notice that as much.

A Properly Unhaunted Place by William Alexander
A fun, quick read about kids who have to save their town from a malevolent ghost. This is one of those MG books where the adults can't do what needs to be done and the kids rise to the occas…

Crossing Ebenezer Creek

I debated whether or not I was going to write a full review for Crossing Ebenezer Creek by Tonya Bolden or just include it in one of my shorter musings posts. It's a hard book to discuss because there is a lot the reader just needs to experience. In the end, I decided to write a full review simply because it was one of those books that kept me thinking for days after I finished it.

Mariah is a slave who longs for freedom. When a contingent from Sherman's army shows up at the plantation she is on to procure food and supplies, she jumps at the chance to leave with them. Caleb was born free and works for the army driving a cart and helping with supplies. He offers Mariah and her brother a ride in his wagon. There are many former slaves who have joined Sherman's march to the sea as it makes its way south. Mariah and her fellows from her plantation find their place among them, offering the skills they need. Caleb helps them adjust an gives them as much help as he can. He finds …

Quarterly Review

Here is a round up of all the books I chose not to finish, adult reads, and favorite reads of the last three months.

The DNFs (with links to my reasons why on Goodreads):
Wintersong by S. Jae Jones

Non-Fiction (with links to reviews on Goodreads):
Samurai Rising by Pamela Turner

Adult Reads (with links to Goodreads reviews):
Acute Reactions by Ruby Lang (contemporary romance)
Always My Girl by Samantha Chase (contemporary romance)
Forever a Bad Boy by Genevieve Turner (contemporary romance)
Love Walks In by Samantha Chase (contemporary romance)
Made for Us by Samantha Chase (contemporary romance)
This is Our Song by Samantha Chase (contemporary romance)

The Best of the Best (links to my reviews):



Patina by Jason Reynolds

A Sky Full of Stars by Linda Williams Jackson