Thursday, December 12, 2019

Holiday Book Gifting for the Grown Ups

As I said with the kid post, here are some suggestions from me, that won't include all of the amazing books out there.  It's just my perspective in a fun post.  I'll probably even forget to include some I meant to share! Here are my suggestions from last year, if you want more ideas!

For the adult who enjoys YA/Middle Grade books

Just Under the Clouds by Melissa Sarno is a beautiful book about a middle schooler who experiences some homelessness, the death of her father, and living with a sister who is a bit different.  Also, good recommendation for kids (8-13).

Front Desk by Kelly Yang is a must read for any reader of any age! I think it would be a great read aloud for the reader who may not be ready to read it on their own, and for adults it's just so good.  I recommended it to a third grade teacher at my kiddos school as a book EVERY ONE needs to read.

"Mia Tang has a lot of secrets.

Number 1: She lives in a motel, not a big house. Every day, while her immigrant parents clean the rooms, ten-year-old Mia manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel and tends to its guests.

Number 2: Her parents hide immigrants. And if the mean motel owner, Mr. Yao, finds out they've been letting them stay in the empty rooms for free, the Tangs will be doomed.

Number 3: She wants to be a writer. But how can she when her mom thinks she should stick to math because English is not her first language?

It will take all of Mia's courage, kindness, and hard work to get through this year. Will she be able to hold on to her job, help the immigrants and guests, escape Mr. Yao, and go for her dreams?"

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas is flippin good! It's realistic fiction for a group of teens that don't normally see themselves in print.  Bre is a 16 year old who wants to be a rapper but has to fight stigmas, her own stubbornness, and her surroundings to get what she wants.  If gifting to an under 18 reader I'd make sure they were high school age.

The Feel Good Reader

All Fudged Up by Nancy Coco is the first in a cozy mystery series set on Mackinac Island.  Allie McMurphy has moved back to the island to run her family's hotel and fudge shop and she keeps running across dead bodies! And their are attractive men! I believe the series is up to 7 books now. The down fall is that you want to eat fudge while reading these books and there are recipes.  You have been warned.

Assaulted Caramel by Amanda Flower is the first book in the Amish Candy shop mysteries.  More books that make you hungry with food references! Set in Ohio Amish country with a big city girl who has come home and magically solves mysteries with the hot cop!

The Reader who Likes Sarah Jio novels

The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams is set on a small island in New England.  It goes back in forth between 1951 and 1969.  There is death, mystery, marriages, love affairs, and secrets galore!

Mistress of the Ritz by Melanie Benjamin was such a great book! Great historical fiction set in WWII.

"Nothing bad can happen at the Ritz; inside its gilded walls every woman looks beautiful, every man appears witty. Favored guests like Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Coco Chanel, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor walk through its famous doors to be welcomed and pampered by Blanche Auzello and her husband, Claude, the hotel's director. The Auzellos are the mistress and master of the Ritz, allowing the glamour and glitz to take their minds off their troubled marriage, and off the secrets that they keep from their guests--and each other."

The Reader Who likes Suspense

The Dry by Jane Harper is a page turner and the start of a series!

"A small town hides big secrets in this atmospheric, page-turning debut mystery by award-winning author Jane Harper.
In the grip of the worst drought in a century, the farming community of Kiewarra is facing life and death choices daily when three members of a local family are found brutally slain.
Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk reluctantly returns to his hometown for the funeral of his childhood friend, loath to face the townsfolk who turned their backs on him twenty years earlier.
But as questions mount, Falk is forced to probe deeper into the deaths of the Hadler family. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret. A secret Falk thought was long buried. A secret Luke's death now threatens to bring to the surface in this small Australian town, as old wounds bleed into new ones."
The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlin is another page turner set in 1944 small town North Carolina.  Girl is engaged.  Girl gets pregnant.  Not with fiance.  She tracks down the father and it is NOT what anyone expects.
The Reader Who Reads Long Books
Ohio by Stephen Markley is a huge book.  But it really hits on the opioid crisis in the Midwest.  There are twists and turns in it too, but it's a good book.  Plus, it should keep the reader, occupied for a bit!
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson is a commitment because one must keep the storyline straight, as Ursula's life ends and begins over and over again throughout the entire book.
Hopefully, this fun list may have given you ideas for a reader in your life or yourself! Obviously not an exhaustive list of what is out there but just a different perspective on what to give this holiday season!
Have you read any of these books? What book is on your Christmas wish list? Do you often gift books?

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

What Books To Give Kids This Holiday Season

Clearly there are tons of books.  I will not be recommending all of the amazing ones out there.  I also tried not to re-recommend any from last year.  (Which are all still good ideas!) But here is just my unique input into a season of gift giving when you realize you have no idea what to give someone.  Or you remember someone at the last minute.  Books never let me down.  I love giving books and getting books.  Goodreads is awesome for this too, if you are connected with someone and you can find an obscure book they marked as want to read if you are concerned they may not like it.  If it’s a duplicate to one they own, eh it happens! Books are meant to be shared, they can pass it on.

For the history loving kid

Who Was Series and I Survived series...

If you happen to know what part of history they are interested in use that as your guide to figure out which one in either of these series to get them.  They do not go in order so you can pick and choose.  At a loss?

These have been read, approved, and 5 starred by my reader..

Not in a series, but also 5 starred by 8 year old is Malala: My Story of Standing up for Girls Rights.  She also enjoyed the Addy series from the American Girl books, Little House in the Prairie books, Blast from the Past series, and various picture books about famous people she took an interest in.

Kids Who Love Mysteries

Boxcar series.  We read the first book together and then my daughter went crazy reading this series.  You don't necessarily have to read it in order, but they do sell boxed sets of the first 4 to get your reader started.  Which, is what she got for Christmas last year that helped.  When starting a kid on a series, I do try to get them a boxed set of the first few if affordable, because if they get started and love it, they can continue on right away and keep the love of the series fresh!

Cam Jansen series.  Quick and easy reads.  Really good for the 1st-2nd grade crowds.  It also has a girl main character, which I like, but is great for girls AND boys.

Ada Lace series.  This book features an 8 year old girl who is a scientist, and inventor who also happens to be good at solving mysteries!

Kids Who Like Graphic Novels

I'll be honest, I am not a huge fan of these, but my kiddo got into them this year and while they are still not my cup of tea, they sure get some readers excited!

Dog Man series by Dav Pilkey, I'm actually gifting the first 4 in a boxed set to my 7 year old nephew for Christmas.  This series is a hot ticket in the 1st-3rd crowd.  My kids school library and my public library have a hard time keeping these books on the shelves because the kids love them.  He had a new one in the series come out on December 10th, so if you know a kid who loves the series, it may be a great holiday gift!  My kiddo is actually getting a whole to draw book from this author, as she started making her own graphic novels this year and saw it on Amazon as an idea.

Zita the Spacegirl series by Ben Hatke is also a hot ticket at our local public library! It took awhile for my kiddo to complete the now 4 book series.

"Zita's life took a cosmic left turn in the blink of an eye.

When her best friend is abducted by an alien doomsday cult, Zita leaps to the rescue and finds herself a stranger on a strange planet. Humanoid chickens and neurotic robots are shocking enough as new experiences go, but Zita is even more surprised to find herself taking on the role of intergalactic hero. Before long, aliens in all shapes and sizes don't even phase her. Neither do ancient prophecies, doomed planets, or even a friendly con man who takes a mysterious interest in Zita's quest.

Zita the Spacegirl is a fun, captivating tale of friendship and redemption from Flight veteran Ben Hatke. It also has more whimsical, eye-catching, Miyazaki-esque monsters than you can shake a stick at."

Board Books

Dream Big Little One by Vashti Harrison is probably our most read board book.  I've read it a few times but Isla picks this one to read to her sister multiple times a week. We all like it and we've even googled people we do not know!

5 Little Monkey's Jumping on the Bed is a current Adeline favorite.  She looks at the pictures and smiles! So it's a winner!

Down by the Bay is another current winner at our house.  Probably because of the singing that goes along with it!

Other Kid Book Recommendations

Wish by Barbara O'Conner

"Eleven-year-old Charlie Reese has been making the same secret wish every day since fourth grade. She even has a list of all the ways there are to make the wish, such as cutting off the pointed end of a slice of pie and wishing on it as she takes the last bite. But when she is sent to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to live with family she barely knows, it seems unlikely that her wish will ever come true. That is until she meets

Wishbone, a skinny stray dog who captures her heart, and Howard, a neighbor boy who proves surprising in lots of ways. Suddenly Charlie is in serious danger of discovering that what she thought she wanted may not be what she needs at all"

Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar (1st in a series!)

"There was a terrible mistake - Wayside School was built with one classroom on top of another, thirty stories high (The builder said he was sorry.) Maybe that's why all kinds of funny things happened at Wayside-especially on the thirteenth floor."

The World According to Humphrey by Betty Birney (1st in a series!)

"You can learn a lot about life by observing another species. That’s what Humphrey was told when he was first brought to Room 26. And boy, is it true! In addition to having FUN-FUN-FUN in class, each weekend this amazing hamster gets to sleep over with a different student, like Lower-Your-Voice-A.J. and Speak-Up-Sayeh. Soon Humphrey learns to read, write, and even shoot rubber bands (only in self-defense, of course). With lots of friends to help, adventures to enjoy, and a cage with a lock-that-doesn’t- lock, Humphrey's life is almost perfect. If only the teacher, Mrs. Brisbane, wasn’t out to get him!"

Like I said, there are tons of excellent books out there and I'm sure I will kick myself for not mentioning one of them after this posts!

Are you giving books as gifts? What is your recommendation for a kid who likes mysteries? Graphic Novels?

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

What I Read in November

I have been utilizing my free time to Christmas shop, read, and scroll social media recently so it's 9 days into December and I haven't shared my November reads!

I improved from my slow reading of October and read 5 books in November.  I enjoyed all of them, which was a plus.  First Frost started out slow for me, and I think Sarah Addison Allen is an author I need to space out.  I had read another one of her books in September and I just might need more space for her type of stories.  I enjoy them, but I think they are just too similar.

The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams was my first by her and it will not be the last! She writes books I enjoy, set in the past, with a sense of mystery.  I'm really not sure if her other books are all like that but I do know they are set in the past.  I will be slowly working my way through more of hers. 

Bury Your Dead was another installment in the Inspector Gamache series.  I think I may have one more book left to read before I hit a streak where I read 2 out of order.  I am thinking about rereading one of them because I recall that it didn't make a ton of sense at the time but now I think it will and I'd get a refresher.  The other one I remember not liking as much, so I may skip through it.  I feel like with her series I like a book, then I'm so so and so on.  I like spacing her books out too!

The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen had me hooked from the beginning.  It is about a girl whose mom died from a drug overdose a few years earlier and is spending the summer with her family that she doesn't really remember.  They are in a lake community where one side is for the rich and the other is the not so rich side.  Her mom was from the not so rich side and her dad summered on the rich side.  She learns about her moms past and of her cousins that she didn't really know.  It was really good!

The Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benedict I wrote about here.   When we discussed it at book club everyone enjoyed learning more about Hedy LaMarr and a lot of us googled her to find out the true info! Some agreed that the book could have been written better towards the end, but we all enjoyed it. 

Also been enjoying reading baby board books with sweet Adeline! Current favorites there are 5 Little Monkey's Jumping on the Bed and Down by the Bay!

What did you read in November? What would you recommend to me?

Monday, December 9, 2019

5 Bookish Things I'm Loving Right Now

This is my fifth installment of this series, you can find the 4th here.


2. This Book Riot article shares 2019 YA and middle grade books that have Asians on the cover.  I'm interested in reading The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee.

DescriptionBy day, seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady's maid for the cruel daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Atlanta. But by night, Jo moonlights as the pseudonymous author of a newspaper advice column for the genteel Southern lady, "Dear Miss Sweetie." When her column becomes wildly popular, she uses the power of the pen to address some of society's ills, but she's not prepared for the backlash that follows when her column challenges fixed ideas about race and gender.

While her opponents clamor to uncover the secret identity of Miss Sweetie, a mysterious letter sets Jo off on a search for her own past and the parents who abandoned her as a baby. But when her efforts put her in the crosshairs of Atlanta's most notorious criminal, Jo must decide whether she, a girl used to living in the shadows, is ready to step into the light. 

3. A debut Michigan author got a seven figure deal!! Angeline Boulley is an enrolled member of the Chippewa Tribe from the Upper Peninsula! Her book, The Firekeepers Daughter, explores the question of identity in the Native American communities.  The premise is a teen girl of mixed heritage who is unenrolled from her tribe and feels like an outsider in the tribe and out in the local community.  She is her class valedictorian but is not going to college, and will instead be her mothers caretaker.  Sounds intriguing! And I love supporting localish authors!

4. I was looking for bookish gifts to get the 8 year old for Christmas and I came across these adorable socks! On one foot it says Do Not Disturb and on the other it says I'm Reading, with a picture of a book! So perfect for her!

5. I'm not sure if you are aware of the kerfuffle on Twitter a few weeks ago because of a Sarah Dessen tweet about a woman who had been quoted in a newspaper about joining a committee to keep a Dessen book off her university's Common Read program.  This article by Jezebel sums it up and offers some perspective on the situation.   I can see both sides of this, but agree with author Jodi Picoult who said,

“To not speak up about this incident isn’t just demeaning to Sarah. It’s demeaning to women, period. Want to fight the patriarchy? Start by reminding everyone that stories about women are worthy, that they matter, that they are necessary."

The woman's comments were that Dessen's books are good for 'teen girls' but not for a Common Read.  Which, fine have that opinion, but to dismiss books because they are 'for teen girls' is a ridiculous statement.  So is joining a committee if your sole purpose is because of that.  Have favorite authors, favorite genres, but really hating on a specific one? It's kind of like the worst of lists.. Perhaps, just don't.  I've been guilty of that in the past but I mean, celebrate what you like and enjoy without demeaning the 'other.'

What some bookish things you are loving right now?