It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 4/22/2019 #imwayr

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Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday!

Happy Earth Day, #imwayr community! And this Friday, April 26th, is also Arbor Day for Nebraska. After two back-to-back blizzards, the weather has been so warm the last week. We’ve spent much more time outdoors and with our windows open. I’m sure looking forward to getting my hands in the dirt and appreciating the (final) arrival of spring.

With the long holiday weekend and family/travel time, I’ve done zero book review prep. Therefore, I’ll just provide images for what I’ve been reading over the past week. Thanks for visiting and I’ll be sure to swing by everyone’s blogs over the next couple days!


What I’ve Read:

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What I’m Reading:

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 4/15/2019 #imwayr

Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday!

Brayla-newspaper-4-10-19.pngI want to thank everyone for your sweet comments on my daughter’s guitar/singing performance that I embedded in my post, last week. After the show that Sunday, we had a blizzard hit on Wednesday that closed all our schools and many businesses for 3 days (4/10 to 4/12), but we slipped out of the house in the middle of the storm to grab up a couple print copies of the local newspaper story for her scrapbook. It’s quite fulfilling watching children find and explore their many passions in life!

It’s Monday! What am I reading? Well, to tell you the truth, I am mostly reading with my ears (audiobooks), presently. I had a mishap with my glasses while shoveling snow from our PREVIOUS blizzard in April. One of my lenses popped out and couldn’t be found in the piles of snow (WHY was I even wearing them out there?!). I’ve been using my old reading glasses over the last three weeks and it’s been no fun at all. They estimated a cost of $105 to replace just one plain plastic lens with no coatings or anything. That was simply out of the question right now. BUT! I’m happy to report that after most of the snow melted, we found the lens sitting right in our driveway. I still need to have it thoroughly cleaned and reattached, but that should take no time at all (and will be FREE!!). I’m feeling pretty lucky right now! On to my reading week…


35887567On the Come Up
Angie Thomas
February 5, 2019
Balzer + Bray

Sixteen-year-old Bri has had a pretty rough life. She lost her father when she was only 4 years old, and her mother was strung out on drugs for a very long time, requiring Bri and her older brother, Trey, to live with their grandparents. Before Bri’s father died, he was becoming a rap star in the community. So as Bri begins to show her rapping talent and strength, she is constantly compared to her father. But she is definitely her own person – not wanting to ride on anyone’s coattails!

Bri’s and Trey’s mom hates the fact that her past life with drugs has held everyone back. It destroyed her relationship with their grandparents and makes it nearly impossible to get a job anywhere. Who wants to hire a past drug addict? And yet, Trey has done everything “right” from the beginning. He went to college, got the degree, and still ended up back at home, delivering pizzas just to help his mom and Bri make ends meet. Nevertheless, he has a hefty college loan payment to make each month and so they still experience hunger and the loss of electricity, even when they’re scraping everything they can together every single month. There are times when everything feels so hopeless, but that’s such an important point to the story — to witness just how miraculous it is to get “on the come up” in this life.

On the Come Up tackles a number of issues, including: sexism, racism (including racial profiling within a high school), economic inequality, gang activity, gun control (including guns in the schools), gossip/rumors, and more. NOTE: While not a sequel, this story does appear to take place in the same community as The Hate You Give, and some passages allude to things that took place there in the past. In fact, I kept waiting to hear Starr’s name (but it doesn’t happen — sorry!). This story, however, is quite different from THUG and will be a sobering window for many of our youth who cannot yet wrap their minds around the multiple obstacles Bri’s family faces, every day.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.


40519254Shout
Laurie Halse Anderson
March 12, 2019
Penguin Young Readers Group

I am beyond happy that I took the time to listen to this audiobook, actually narrated by Laurie Halse Anderson. How was it? It was painful, liberating, fierce, comforting, peaceful, and… so very inspiring. Shout is a free verse poetry memoir that provides a strong narrative, even referring back to Speak, at times. It’s absolutely stunning to hear about Anderson’s personal life/family experiences, as painful as they were, and see such wisdom in her current reflection. I don’t know why I never read Speak, but I definitely will after this experience. It’s books like this that make me want to write. Or better yet, to SHOUT!

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.


38791999Because
Mo Willems
Amber Ren, illustrator
March 5, 2019
Hyperion Books for Children

This is a lovely picture book about chance happenings in our lives as well as cause and effect. In this story, it starts with the “BECAUSE” that inspired the composers of the beautiful music, then later the “BECAUSE” that inspired the orchestra members to learn to play and to come together, and so on. So many people and events play a valuable role in an ultimate performance of brilliant music. And then that performance goes on to be the “BECAUSE” behind another great achievement and achiever.

There’s usually a domino effect in our lives that can be traced back to something or someone (or many someones) long ago who impacted our lives. Perhaps, with children, this story will inspire them to be looking out for their own “BECAUSE.”

Of the many touching parts of this book, I adored the author’s dedication “To the memory of Charles M. Schulz, my BECAUSE.” Ahhh, the feels. Furthermore, I’m always delighted to add one more music picture book to my list for my “teaching music in the elementary classroom” college course. I’ll provide one page-spread, below:

Because-IMG_8511

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.


40915495Angry Cookie
Laura Dockrill
Maria Karipidou, illustrator
March 12, 2019
Walker Books US
A Division of Candlewick Press

PLEASE BE AWARE: Angry Cookie has experienced several very unfortunate events, back-to-back, in the last day. So please understand, you’re meeting Angry Cookie at a low point. A very low point. But if you make it to the end of the book, Angry Cookie discovers that you hung in there, even when confronted with a grumpy, mean, moany, sulky, horrid, and angry cookie. The book showcases the fact that sometimes the best thing we can do is listen patiently while our friends heal from a rough patch. (Angry Cookie is not identified as male or female, but Angry Cookie goes to a barber for a haircut and has a roommate named Barbra who is referred to as “her”.)

The humorous artwork in this book was created digitally. Here’s one example:

Angry-CookieIMG_8512

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.


40537394William Wakes Up
Linda Ashman
Chuck Groenink, illustrator
February 5, 2019
Disney-Hyperion

This book is a sequel to William’s Winter Nap, published in 2017. Both books showcase rhyming text and the counting of animals. In book #1, more animals are added to the bed for a long winter nap. However, in book #2, the animals are subtracted from the bed, one at a time, AND in a different order than they were added in the first book. Furthermore, there’s one sneaky animal who might be pretending to be asleep while all the others take care of the work.

This story could be used with children to supplement a discussion of hibernation, the start of spring, addition/subtraction, the importance of everyone lending a helping hand, or even comparing/discussing the change-up in order of animals between the two books. The softly colored artwork was created with pencils and Photoshop. I’ll provide one page-spread as an example, below:

William-Wakes-UpIMG_8514

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.


40796124Arrr, Mustache Baby!
Mustache Baby series
Bridget Heos
Joy Ang, illustrator
March 5, 2019
Clarion Books
Imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

In this new installment of the Mustache Baby series, Baby Billy and Baby Javier sail across the seven seas (or the community swimming pool) to find treasure. During their adventure, things go awry and they end up becoming mean-spirited PIRATES! Toward the end, we read: “AVAST! The pirates were caught and forced to stand trial!” MEANING, their parents pulled them from the water and placed them in separate timeouts for naps. In the end, everyone is playing happily together again and all is well.

The artwork in this book was created digitally. I’ll provide one spread as an example, below:

Arrr-Mustache-babyIMG_8515

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.


To Be Read:

I’m excited to be finishing Up For Air, this week. It’s due for publication in May and has been an enjoyable read, thus far. I am planning to start on Two Naomis before I read Naomis Too, which is on my #MustReadin2019 list. I also picked up a colorful picture book named Splatter from our local public library and I am slowly working my way through Who Wrote the Bible? with my husband. He’s read the original, repeatedly, for a Literature of the Bible course he teaches at our college. Now he’s re-reading this one with me (an updated edition). This will probably take a few weeks for me to digest because it covers a great deal of information.

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What are YOU reading?


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2019 – 97/200
#MustReadin2019 – 12/42


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 4/8/2019 #imwayr

Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday!

On top of the regular fast-paced life of a family with five children, we had a bit of a rough weekend after losing our next door neighbor quite suddenly on Friday (an adopted grandparent for our children since their blood relatives all live a thousand miles away). Then we had a music competition that our 15-year-old daughter (our oldest) attended on Sunday. Her song was Travelin’ Soldier which, if you aren’t familiar with it already, tells the story of how a teenage girl exchanges letters with a Vietnam soldier. It ends with the discovery that her soldier has died in the war. And ahhhhh the feels. I’ll pop a video of her performance, below, if you’d like to take a looksy. But oh how the music and lyrics of the chorus always pulls at my heartstrings:

I cried
Never gonna hold the hand of another guy
Too young for him, they told her
Waiting for the love of a travelin’ soldier
Our love will never end
Waiting for the soldier to come back again
Never more to be alone
When the letter says a soldier’s coming home

So… what have I been reading? It’s now 8:45 on Monday morning and I have a 10 dentist appointment, so I’ll be making this blog post short and linking up with the group super late.


38237340

The Wicked King
(The Folk of the Air #2)
Holly Black
January 8, 2019
Little, Brown and Company

Last week I read The Cruel Prince and I just had to keep going with The Wicked King, this week. With the enormous Holly Black fandom, I felt that reading this series was a “must” if I was going to keep my finger on the heartbeat of YA fantasy, this year. This Faerie world offers an action-packed fantasy full of family issues, magical elements, revealed secrets, plenty of deaths, and it’s topped off with a bit of slowly building romance. If you plan to read this trilogy then you can’t really hear about much beyond book #1, but I can say that I appreciate the multiple layers of the main character: Jude. She must think through everything to stay one step ahead of the Folk since they have powers that she does not. She proves the mind is a powerful weapon and that past tragedy can make one stronger that imaginable. And she’s not bad with a sword, either. This one ends on a shocking cliffhanger, leaving me eagerly anticipating next January’s release of book #3.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.


40772063The Lost Sisters
(The Folk of the Air #1.5)
Holly Black
October 2, 2018
NOVL

I didn’t know about this little novella (book 1.5) until I was finished with book #2, so I went back this week and quickly finished it. It’s very short and it ultimately just felt like one long list of excuses from Taryn, Jude’s twin sister. As I said on Goodreads, it seemed more like a #sorrynotsorry letter — leaving most people’s feelings unchanged over the events of books 1 and 2. If you decide to read this trilogy, you should probably include this one in between the first and second installment.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.


34499252

The Prince and the Dressmaker
Jen Wang
February 13, 2018
First Second

Prince Sebastian does not want to feel limited by being a boy. He has been keeping a deep secret about his desire to wear dresses and travel in public. I enjoyed witnessing his developing friendship with his dressmaker, Frances. But when it comes down the choice of either (1) keeping his secret, thereby hurting Francis’ future as a designer OR (2) revealing his true self and freeing Francis for a lifetime of grand success, he realizes he must live with the consequences whatever decision he makes. It’s an important graphic novel on character, love, and acceptance.

Awards: Harvey Awards for Best Children or Young Adult Book AND nominated for Book of the Year (2018), Prix du Festival d’Angoulême for Prix jeunesse (2019), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Graphic Novels & Comics (2018), Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award Nominee (2020)

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.


37693660

The Friendship War
Andrew Clements
January 8, 2019
Random House Books for Young Readers

6th grader, Grace, spends the summer with her grandfather not long after her grandmother has passed away. Her grandfather has decided to purchase an old building and she discovers a bunch of old buttons left behind on the property. At this point, the story shifts to her home/school life back with her parents where her grandfather has shipped the boxes and boxes (and boxes) of buttons she found. As she returns to school to share some of her buttons with her classmates, a crazy fad is born and things get a little ugly. Grace begins to rethink her “best friendship” with a girl named Ellie as she discovers things she really doesn’t like about her. When we are friends with someone, do we have to accept everything about them? What if the negative aspects of their character impacts how others see US? Lots of important questions happening in this one, and it inspired a great conversation with my daughter on adolescent friendships.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.


23657454

Awkward
(Awkward #1)
Svetlana Chmakova
July 21, 2015
JY

I wanted to read Crush, which is book #3 of this series. So I’m starting with the first in the series. Penelope (AKA Peppi) Torres is new to her school and she’s following two cardinal rules for success: (1) Don’t get noticed by mean kids and (2) Seek out groups with similar interests. But after bumping into Jaime Thompson and being called “nerder girlfriend,” she shoves Jaime to the floor and takes off running. The remainder of the book she is regretting her decision and attempting to work up the nerve to apologize and make things right. All along, Peppi and Jaime are in rival school clubs, which only makes things more awkward. I enjoyed the adorable artwork — could Jaime be any more precious? I already have book #2 (Brave) on order.

Awards: Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award Nominee (2017), Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards Nominee for Best Publication for Teens (ages 13-17) (2016), Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award Nominee (2018)

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.


41089856My Heart
Corinna Luyken
January 8, 2019
Dial Books

This lovely picture book shares a powerful message with very simple black, white, and yellow drawings. Using only a few words per page, Luyken provides light, dark, and shadows to demonstrate the feelings of the heart. There are hidden heart shapes found within the illustrations (tops of flowers, puddles, clouds, trees) that will be fun for children to find. I couldn’t wait to share this one with my husband when I read it. He really, really loved it, pointing out meaningful elements. I think we may need to get a copy for our home library.

The illustrations in this book were created with a printmaking process called monotype, using water-based inks and pencil. I’ll provide one page-spread as an example, below:

MYHEARTIMG_8283

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.


To Be Read

Both of my kindle e-readers had issues this week, so I couldn’t get my e-books to come up. All was well by Saturday evening, but that means I’m still finishing Up For Air this week. What I’ve read of it so far is really good. I’ve also checked out Angry Cookie, Because, and I’m hoping to finish Shout as an audiobook.

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Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2019 – 92/200
#MustReadin2019 – 12/42


#MustReadin2019 4/4/2019

mustreadin2019-1

Time for a quick update on my #MustReadin2019 progress. While I usually plan to read between 200 and 300 books per year, I used my “must read” list to include titles that I want to make SURE to squeeze in to my reading schedule. I’ve now finished 86 total books this year. Of those, I’ve read 12 out of the 42 “must read” titles I scheduled — just a little over a quarter of the way through my list. I’m having trouble not getting distracted by all the shiny new books each week, though. LOL I also found out that one of the books on my list had a change in publication date — Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Toni Adeyemi has been moved to a December publication date. So we’ll just hope I can still squeeze that in before the end of the year. But so far, so good…


So first, I’ll show my progress in a book cover image, followed by list format:

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Middle Grade
Resistance by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Apple in the Middle by Dawn Quigley
Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake
Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina
Naomis Too by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich & Audrey Vernick
The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis
The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani Dasgupta
Breakout by Kate Messner
Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling (coming soon)
The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart
The Oceans Between Stars Kevin Emerson (book #2 in a series of 3)
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova

Young Adult
The Fault in our Stars by John Green
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner (1st of 6 in series)
All Systems Red by Martha Wells (1st of 5 in series)
Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz (1st of 12 books, plus several short stories)
Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden (1st in a series of 3)
Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan
Unleaving by Melissa Ostrom (LOVED her Beloved Wild)
Cruel Prince by Holly Black (1st in series)
Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (1st in series of 3)
Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman
Scythe by Neal Schusterman
Wildcard by Marie Lu
Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Toni Adeyemi (book #2 in series)
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
Watership Down by Richard Adams

Adult Fiction or Historical Fiction
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Nonfiction
Game Changer!: Book Access for All Kids by Donalyn Miller and Colby Sharp
Educated by Tara Westover
Troublemakers : Lessons in Freedom from Young Children at School by Carla Shalaby
Who Wrote the Bible? by Richard Elliott Friedman
The World’s Religions by Huston Smith
The Story of Christianity Vol. 1 by Justo L. González
The Story of Christianity Vol. 2 by Justo L. González

My “must read” Twitter post has been, by far, my most viewed, liked, and retweeted tweet, with over 8,077 impressions and 349 engagements, to date. People appear to be very interested in what we commit ourselves to reading throughout the year.

MustReadin2019-1stQuarterUpdate

And after seeing my progress in the first quarter, I realize I really need to bump up my focus on Adult Fiction and Nonfiction this next quarter! I look forward to seeing everyone’s progress this week and checking back in with you all on Thursday, September 5th. To see the rest of our community April 5th updates, check out Carrie’s Spring Update post at There’s a Book for That.


 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 4/1/2019 #imwayr

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday!

Today I’ll be sharing some of my reads from the last week, including two young adult novels, two middle grade novels, and four picture books (three that are recent award-winners I missed in 2018). I hope you find some new-to-you books to enjoy!


35890024The Astonishing Maybe
Shaunta Grimes
March 26, 2019
Feiwel and Friends

The Astonishing Maybe is Grimes’ first middle grade novel. The book blurb describes it as “Pippi Longstocking meets My Girl and Waitress” — and while Pippi is funny, quirky, and light-hearted, if you’ve ever seen My Girl and Waitress, then you know to be prepared for heavy topics and an emotional experience.

12-year-old Gideon is new to Logandale, Nevada, and one of the first things he notices is his new neighbor, Roona. She is roller-skating up and down the sidewalk with rainbow-striped socks pulled up to her knees, a swimsuit on top of her clothing, and a cape on her back. Her eyes are focused somewhere down the road and never, not once, does she look over at him while his family unloads their car. He really wishes she would.

Gideon’s parents are ultra protective, not allowing him to even ride his bike across the street or to answer the home phone when they run an errand across town. On the other hand, Roona, is a free-range child who is able to travel the city freely, with little notice that she’s even gone. What Gideon also learns about Roona is that she has a heart for adventure, she still believes in magic and super powers, and she desperately wants her dad to come home because her mom really needs him. While much of the story is devoted to Roona’s attempts to handle her mother’s depression, it also addresses issues of abuse, crime/prison, attempted suicide, and the difficult balance between obeying a parent’s firm rules while also looking out for a friend in need. Sadly, the painful childhood experiences discussed in this story are very real to non-fiction children, today, so this story will resonate with those who understand this pain all too well.

Personally, I was hooked on this story within the first few pages. Grimes absolutely nailed the 12-year-old voice through a fast-paced storyline with just a touch of magical realism. There were moments of laughter, a few tears, and some very believable flashes of anger — including one mention of  “shit” (at least in the advanced copy), which I note only because it is a bit unusual for a middle grade novel (realistically, though, this word was used in my kindergarten classroom). Overall, I found The Astonishing Maybe to be a meaningful story that I enjoyed and would happily recommend.

SIDENOTE: Shaunta Grimes wrote an article about the release of this book called There Ought to be a Word For This (on Medium.com). One important thing she says about publishing a book is that once it is released, it belongs to the readers and all an author can hope for is that it will become ours and settle into us. The article is very short and to the point, but if you review books regularly I think you’ll find her thoughts very intriguing and on point — take 2-3 minutes to read it, if you can!

My thanks to NetGalley and Feiwel and Friends for approving an e-ARC so that I could provide an honest review of this book.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.


38167114Internment
Samira Ahmed
March 19, 2019
Eric Smith, publicist
Atom

Meet Layla Amin, a 17-year-old Muslim-American teen who is sent to an internment camp with her parents. They have no Internet, their TV stations are selected by the American government, they can only eat what is provided in the cafeteria, there are cameras everywhere (including drones that fly around the camp watching and recording their conversations), and they can only make a phone call with special permission and heavy monitoring. With the help of Layla’s boyfriend, David (who is Jewish and outside the camp), and a camp guard disobeying orders, Layla begins slipping handwritten messages to the outside world to inform the media of what is taking place within these camps. But as her news stories are released publicly, things get far more dangerous inside the gates as security is tightened and residents are abused to uncover the spy. Will Layla and her adolescent friends have the courage necessary to regain their rights and freedom?

When nationalism is disguised as patriotism, we justify cruel and inhumane actions — this has repeatedly been demonstrated throughout history. In fact, details of various past events (such as Japanese-American internment) are discussed even within this story. But fear of this happening again isn’t the only focus of this story — there are common misrepresentations that are explained, throughout, as part of the story in an effort to offer a window to those who need one. For example, there’s explanation of how a person isn’t ethnically Muslim — it is a religion that encompasses all ethnicities and skin colors. Additionally, there’s wonderful discussion about a woman’s decision of whether to wear the hijab (which is a choice, not mandated). These types of discussions are woven right into the storyline and offer a great deal of insight.

So far, Internment has received at least five starred reviews. I was very glad my e-library had a copy ready to borrow within a week of publication. Overdrive to the rescue!

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.


34807877The Book of Boy
Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Ian Schoenherr
February 6, 2018
Greenwillow

Set during the Holy Year of 1350, Boy appears to have an unusual life at his master’s estate. He is mocked by other children and seems to be abused or demeaned by most adults. His master told him the hump on his back is bad and that he is never to touch or reveal it. Boy obeys without question. One day a mysterious pilgrim named Secondus arrives at his master’s estate and he takes Boy as a servant on an expedition to gather important relics from across Europe. It will take seven relics, in fact, to work a miracle. But Boy is hoping for a miracle of his own. I can’t say much more about this one without spoiling the surprises, but it was not exactly what I expected when I first picked it up. I certainly grew to love Boy and wondered, throughout, about his life and whether his prayer would be answered. Also worth noting is that Ian Schoenherr provided detailed black and white illustrations at the beginning of every chapter, as well as a detailed 2-page spread map noting Boy’s journey with Secondus.

From the Back Matter: “Readers today might be disturbed or amused by all this attention paid to bits of bone and cloth. But modern halls of fame are filled with used guitar picks, sweaty jerseys, and cracked leather balls—not so different from the relics that pilgrims sought a thousand years ago.”

AWARDS: Newbery Honor (2019)

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.


26032825The Cruel Prince
(The Folk of the Air #1)
Holly Black
January 2, 2018
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

What is there left to say about a book that is barely a year old and already has nearly 85,000 ratings on Goodreads? LOL I’ll just try to hit the highlights without spoilers:

Jude, her twin sister Taryn, and their older sister Vivi are happily living in the human world as young children when Vivi’s real father Madoc (a faerie general) arrives unexpectedly, slays their parents right in front of them, and whisks the three sisters away to The Court of Faerie. Fast forward 10 years to present day where the sisters are still living in The Court of Faerie. Prince Cardan is a jerk and, since Madoc fought for his human daughters’ rights to attend a faerie school, the twins must face Cardan every day at school. This is especially bad because fairies can compel humans to do whatever they want them to do. On the flipside, faeries cannot lie. Like ever. But how can this fault be used to human advantage?

There are so many twists and turns to this story (I do NOT envy the hired synopsis writer) and I found it pretty complex with detailed world building and serious family turmoil. There’s also bullying, brutal punishment, just a tinge of romance, bisexual representation, and fairly multi-layered main characters. It’s a darker fantasy tale, but I did enjoyed it and currently have book #2, The Wicked King, on hold. It should be available within the next two weeks.

AWARDS: Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction (2018)

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.


40816496Misunderstood Shark!
Friends Don’t Eat Friends
(Misunderstood Shark #2)
Ame Dyckman
Scott Magoon, illustrator
January 29, 2019
Orchard Books

In this sequel to Misunderstood Shark, we are back on the set of Underwater World with Bob and Friends as they prepare to film another episode. After being vomited up, Bob the Jellyfish demands an apology from Shark for eating him in the first place. But, but, but… did Shark really eat Bob? Or was he just giving him an exclusive tour? Along with Magoon’s fun illustrations, there are a number of aside jokes (some aimed more at the adult readers) and interesting facts about marine life. Fun follow-up book for those who read book #1, last year. Will there be a book #3? Let me know if you hear!

I did not find the specific method of illustration creation, but I’ll provide one page-spread as an example, below:

Shark-IMG_7969

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.


36590352Fox the Tiger
Corey R. Tabor
August 14, 2018
Balzer + Bray

I enjoyed reading the other two books Tabor “fox” books (Fox and the Jumping Contest and Fox and the Bike Ride), just last month. So I was so happy when my library contacted me to let me know the latest book was ready for me to borrow. In this adventure, Fox decides that “Tigers are the best.” However, after attempting to become a tiger with his friends, Turtle and Rabbit, things don’t turn out exactly as planned. Nevertheless, Squirrel comes along to show us that the grass is always greener syndrome is alive and well. And life is truly best when we embrace who we really are. What a great book to initiate discussion about our individual strengths and what we like about one another! The artwork was completed with pencil, watercolor, and crayon, then assembled digitally. I’ll provide one page-spread as an example, below:

Fox-the-Tiger-IMG_7975

AWARDS: Theodore Seuss Geisel Award (2019), Cybils’ Early Reader award (2019)

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.


32510367Let the Children March
Monica Clark-Robinson
Frank Morrison, illustrator
January 2, 2018
HMH Books for Young Readers

In this gorgeous picture book, we meet the children and teens of Birmingham who forever changed the world in 1963. When Dr. King gave a call to action, parents knew they couldn’t march or they would lose their jobs or be jailed — unable to take care of their children. That’s when the children rose up and offered to march. On Thursday, May 2nd, they dressed in their best and marched in silence, hand in hand. They were yelled at, threatened with dogs, sprayed with water, and sent to jail. But day after day, the numbers grew until there was no room left in the cells. People watched the march on television, many wrote letters and called President Kennedy, and on May 10th an agreement for desegregation was reached. The last page of the book shows white and black children sharing the same playground, only one month later. Don’t miss the Back Matter with sources and bibliography and the endpapers (at beginning and ending) which provide a more detailed timeline of events. The stunning artwork was created with oil on illustration board. I’ll provide one page-spread as an example, below:

Let-the-children-IMG_7979

AWARDS: Coretta Scott King Honor for Illustrator (2019)

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.


28234753Alma and How She Got Her Name
Juana Martinez-Neal
April 10, 2018
Candlewick Press

This is such a precious picture book!! Alma has a very long name — six names, to be exact: Alma Sofia Esperanza Jose Pura Candela! In this story, Alma’s daddy explains the meaning behind each of her names, including one that is her’s, alone. This is a perfect book for getting-to-know-you activities with young children. In a note at the very end, the author shares that she felt stuck with what she thought was “the most old-fashioned, harsh, ugly, and way-too-Spanish name.” But years later, she felt differently and could more easily remember where she came from. Awww. ❤ The very first time I read this book, I had my just-turned-five-years-old daughter sitting in my lap, hanging on every word. We both adored it, of course! And it gave me reason to remind her about her name and the person she was named after (as she lives far, far away).

The illustrations were done with graphite, colored pencils, and print transfers on handmade textured paper. The soft and cozy artwork is comforting, reminiscent of childhood — such muted reds and blues that the pages could be framed and hung in a nursery. I’ll provide one page-spread as an example, below:

Alma-IMG_7970.jpg

AWARDS: Ezra Jack Keats Book Award Nominee for Writer (2019), Monarch Award Nominee (2020), Caldecott Honor (2019), Tejas Star Reading List Nominee (2019)

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.


To Be Read:

I plan to start off the week with Up For Air and The Friendship War.


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2019 – 83/200
#MustReadin2019 – 10/42 – If you are participating in #MustReadin2019, don’t forget that this Thursday is our first quarter update.


 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading 3/25/2019 #imwayr

Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday!

This week I’ll share a few of the books I read over the last 7 days, including a longer review of UNLEAVING by Melissa Ostrom, which will be released tomorrow. Enjoy!


39073361Unleaving
Melissa Ostrom
March 26, 2019
Feiwel and Friends

19-year-old Maggie Arioli is the victim of a gang rape that took place in her small college town, just last year. After her assault, she sought help at the police station and with her college administration. But as the perpetrators were athletic heroes of Carleton College, Maggie was immediately considered an outcast, demonized for tainting the names of the young men in question. In an effort to heal from the trauma and move forward, Maggie is taking a year off from school. With her parents’ blessing, she heads out of town to stay with her Aunt Wren in a small cabin just off Lake Ontario in New York. Over time, Maggie carefully branches out, joining a book group in a nearby town and meeting some of the other local townspeople. As friendships develop, we learn that she is certainly not the only seemingly broken person in Aunt Wren’s town. And it turns out that even hurting victims can be a strong support system for others in need.

I loved this book! I didn’t want to put it down, but I also didn’t want it to end. Unlike stories that keep the reader engaged with cliffhangers and constant action, Unleaving carefully reveals the private lives of several characters in the story, inviting the reader to contemplate their status, their childhoods, and the pain they each carry. I was in awe of the layers woven into each character as we are urged to consider how every variable impacts the decisions we make, making us all so very different from each other. Most importantly, this book is a call to stand by one another — to openly show support and elevate victims we encounter, even when everyone else is questioning and assuming and judging with useless stereotypes. More than once this book turned the world on its side, forcing me to consider something new. I really thought I knew what to expect with Unleaving, but I was so very moved by this book. Tears and chills. Five stars — HIGHLY recommend!

Melissa Ostrom was interviewed about Unleaving by Deborah Kalb on her blog — you might enjoy hearing more about the book, the research, and even where the title comes from. My thanks to Melissa Ostrom and Feiwel and Friends for providing me an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book. I read it by choice and am happy to provide my honest review.

Trigger warning for mentions of rape. While the scene of Maggie’s assault is not described in vivid detail, short flashbacks pop up occasionally, providing brief clips to let the reader know of Maggie’s experience.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.


33118268.jpgSong for a Whale
Lynne Kelly
February 5, 2019
Delacorte

Twelve-year-old Iris is a bit lonely, being deaf while attending a hearing school where her teachers and fellow students do not understand her deaf culture. After school hours, Iris is a genius at working with electronics at home — specifically fixing old radios and getting them working, like new. So she LOVES filling her bedroom with parts and pieces that will prove useful on her next project.

One day in class, Iris’ class watched a documentary where they learned about a whale named Blue 55. This whale appears to be one-of-a-kind (possibly the off-spring of who different types of whales) with his very own song that other whales do not understand. So he travels alone and appears to be talking to himself, everywhere he goes. Iris truly relates to Blue 55’s loneliness and so she puts together a plan to find a way to communicate with the whale. Little does she know that her plan will involve all that she’s learned about electronics. And it just might take her on a trip of a lifetime.

Be sure to check out the lengthy back matter which discusses more about whales, the author’s experiences, deaf culture, and deaf history. Sign Language was my foreign language in college and several of my friends were deaf. I attended a deaf church (no speaking allowed) during my college years and learned so much about deaf culture–some details of which were discussed in this story. While this is not an #ownvoices book, I can appreciate what Lynne Kelly did to adhere to linguistic and deaf culture accuracy by using the perspective of native signers who grew up deaf. I hope you enjoy it!

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.


29847473Scar Island
Dan Gemeinhart
January 3, 2017
Scholastic Press

A few months ago, I listened to the first 5-minutes of this on audio. After that, I knew I would be reading this one once it was available. That finally happened this month…

Scar Island is the story of Jonathan Grisby, who is sent to Slabhenge Reformatory School for committing a crime. This crumbling facility, attached to an old lighthouse found secluded in the middle of the ocean, is sometimes chosen by parents as a cheaper alternative to other court-ordered punishments.

Jonathan’s first day at Slabhenge Reformatory School is a rude awakening as the boys’ punishments are frightening and downright abusive. Just a short time into the story, a freak lightening storm leaves the boy “prisoners” all alone without adult supervision. Soon after, they experience a sort of Lord of the Flies period where lines are drawn and loyalties are tested. It’s a somewhat spooky story that I will be adding to my scary October books read-alouds list. But there’s also a softer, heart-strings side to the story that will likely bring tears to the eyes of many middle graders. Love me some Gemeinhart!

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.


40221498The Good Egg
Jory John
Pete Oswald, illustrator
February 12, 2019
HarperCollins

What an adorable picture book, showcasing the “good egg” who always does the right thing (and wants everyone else to do the same). But sometimes the pressure of perfectionism can really get to us and we need to take some time to ourselves before we can hang out with the gang, again. No one is perfect, nor should they be. I loved this one just as much as The Bad Seed.

Oswald used scanned watercolor textures and digital paint to create the artwork for this book. Here’s one page-spread as an example, below:

IMG_7709GoodEgg

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.


yasmin-in-chargeYasmin in Charge
Saadia Faruqi
Hatem Aly, illustrator
March 1, 2019
Picture Window Books

Like other Yasmin books, this 91-paged story follows Yasmin on a few different adventures where her quick thinking saves the day. This time Yasmin is a teacher, then she’s a chef, then a zookeeper, and finally, a superhero. These books provide pages with a large font, many colorful illustrations scattered throughout the text, and very short chapters — perfect for beginning readers who aren’t yet ready for novels or novellas. Here’s one page-spread as an example of the text and how illustrations are found within the story (please ignore the page glare on the right side):

IMG_7710Yasmin

The back matter includes a few pages of things to think/talk about, new Urdu words with pronunciations, Pakistan fun facts, how to make a paper bag superhero, and finally a page about the author and illustrator. There are now a number of Yasmin books available and it doesn’t appear they need to be read in any particular order. Children will enjoy Yasmin’s clever ideas and adorable facial features, throughout!

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.


To Be Read:

This week I plan to finish up The Astonishing Maybe (will be released tomorrow, 3/26/19), The Book of Boy (really enjoying, so far), The Cruel Prince (I bought this one a year ago and FINALLY picked it up this week), and Let the Children March (so happy to see this on my library shelves).

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2019 – 74/200
#MustReadin2019 – 9/42


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 3/18/2019 #imwayr

Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday!

This week, our state (Nebraska) is in pretty bad shape after a 2-day blizzard followed by (ongoing) flash flooding. Bridges collapsed, entire homes were destroyed and swept away, and a great deal of livestock was lost. In my town, they closed down all schools and government offices for THREE whole days (which is the most I can ever recall). While blizzards can be devastating, one thing I appreciate during severe weather is witnessing my friends and neighbors come together to take care of each other. Some who own their own commercial-grade equipment drove down multiple streets and sidewalks across town to clear a path before city government could get around. If a neighbor is in danger of flooding in their basement, people hurry over to help scoop the flood waters away from their home. While we were shoveling and plowing our own driveway and sidewalks, an across the street neighbor ran over to help us finish our work and we were able to take care of a couple other neighbors’ properties (one needs to be able to get out to a hospital quickly, due to rapidly declining health). And later, those families came over with smiles, hot cocoa, and warm apple pie. It’s these types of experiences that remind us of the importance of good neighbors who look out for one another and share the difficult burdens, despite property lines. ❤

On a really fun note, check out a photo of our local friend’s snow-made masterpiece of a 1967 Ford Mustang GTA (and check out the viral state trooper video of the same snow car being “pulled over” RIGHT HERE). These sweet neighbors live just a few roads over and they’re always making outstanding sculptures out of our piles of panhandle snow:

Aaaand now, on to what I’ve been reading this week…


40915488Emily Windsnap and the Pirate Prince
(Emily Windsnap #8)
Liz Kessler
Erin Farley, illustrations
March 12, 2019
Candlewick Press

Emily Windsnap and the Pirate Prince is the 8th book in a series chronicling the adventures of Emily, a spunky half-mer (half human, half mermaid). Throughout this series we’ve witnessed her coming to terms with who she is, learning the history of her family, making best friends with a mermaid named Shona, and rescuing and meeting her half-mermaid boyfriend, Aaron. In each book, Emily has overcome life-threatening obstacles, saving mermaids, humans, and even the Sea King Neptune, who has inadvertently given her special powers that rival his own. The fandom is strong with this series — it has spanned 15 years, so parents and teachers who read this 15 years ago (when they were teens and tweens) are enjoying sharing their passion with the next generation as the more recent books were released. In addition to friendship and loyalty, these books strongly address finding where we belong (noted themes of racism and being mixed-race), conflict resolution, and finding your voice.

In Emily Windsnap and the Pirate Prince, book #8, Emily is still only 13 years old and must face yet another shocking challenge that includes adventure, mystery, treasure, and young romance. She is with her mother on a fancy cruise when their ship is attacked by pirates. Aaron is missing and, when forced to return to their rooms, Emily is separated from her mother. Now Emily must find a way to slip away and discover as many details about the raid party before deciding whether to offer her services to the pirates in exchange for Aaron’s return. But what can Emily offer a ship of rowdy pirates who openly detest mermaids?

It was easy to fall back into Kessler’s comfortable writing in this 8th book. Her scenes are so well described that I can vividly see it all in my mind. As is true of most of the books in this middle grade series, it could probably be a stand alone novel for newcomers, but I believe it’s helpful to know the history to understand who Emily, Aaron, and Shona are — at least books #1, #2, and #3. I’ll also mention that I read some of these books with my eyes and listened to others as audiobooks, so I can happily vouch for the audiobook rendition narrated by Finty Williams.

This book in the series is a bit different for two reasons. First, Emily is separated from her mother, father, Aaron, Shona, and any other already-known Windsnap characters for most of the story. Second, there’s a bit of boyfriend conflict that I don’t recall happening to this extent in the 5 other books I read in this series. This even made me apprehensive and I had no idea how that would resolve until the very end. Otherwise, the book followed a similar pattern to the previous books in the series — with a clever, feisty, non-conforming Emily who is up to just about any task in order to save the day.

My thanks to NetGalley and Candlewick Press for giving me an ARC of this book so that I could provide an honest review. Be sure to check out Liz Kessler’s website to learn more about her characters, her travels and inspiration for each book, the research that went into the books, and you can even take a quiz to discover “How Mer Are You?”.

You can add this book to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.


30370080Watch Hollow
Gregory Funaro
February 12, 2019
Harper Collins

Lucy and Oliver’s father, known as Mr. Tinker, is offered a very large sum of gold to fix a giant cuckoo clock in a house called Blackford House. Watch Hollow is found in the middle of nowhere, inside some enchanted woods. When the family arrives, they discover they are alone, but they immediately sense something is off. Oliver has met a young boy in the woods who he thinks is the son of the previous employee who was working on the clock. But who is he really? Over time they come directly in contact with magical animals and creatures, warning them they must destroy the Garr monster to save themselves and Blackford House. This one is incredibly spooky — might want to keep your lights on while reading! 😉 

This creepy middle grade book that would pair well with some of my other recent scary reads like Nightbooks and Small Spaces.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.


39855077A Good Kind of Trouble
Lisa Ramee
March 12, 2019
Balzer + Bray

Twelve-year-old Shayla feels very lucky to have two best friends: Julia and Isabella. The three call themselves The United Nations since they are Black, Japanese American, and Latinx. But little did Shayla know that 7th grade would provide a strong test of their friendship. The story involves some realistic middle school drama over romantic relationship, but there are some good conversations about crushes and how to seek out people who are truly good people (not just good looking).

Throughout the story, there are news stations following the development of a court case over a white cop shooting a black teenager. Shayla’s older sister, Hana, is very involved in social justice activities — attending rallies and demonstrations — and these are mentioned frequently in response to the current court case. It bothers Hana that Shayla doesn’t have any black friends. And at school, Shayla is he’s tossed aside by the other black girls on her track team, as well, and at one point she’s even referred to as being an “oreo” (black on the outside, white on the inside). As Shayla begins to find her own voice and join in to support Black Lives Matter, she faces resistance from her principal and others, including her own circle of friends. But she’s determined to stand up and spread awareness, despite the trouble it might bring.

Black Lives Matter is discussed in detail in a way that allows younger readers to better understand it. For example, one major discussion is about how saying “black lives matter” doesn’t mean white lives don’t matter or blue lives don’t matter. One life is never more important than another, but real life statistics tell us society believes otherwise. At one point, Shayla recalls how her mom explained that saying “black lives matter” is like going to the doctor for a broken bone. The doctor will make us favor that bone and treat it very carefully until it works with all the other bones again. That’s not to say the other bones aren’t equally important, just that we must bring this bone to our attention until it’s back in working order. While it might seem preachy, it’s a helpful and necessary description for many in this age group.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.


28274867The Bad Seed
Jory John
Pete Oswald, illustrator
August 29, 2017
Harper Collins Childrens

Poor sunflower seed! He once had a big, close, beautiful family of healthy seeds living in the sun and enjoying life, together. Until one day when his flower died and they all dropped to the ground. He was then raked up, stuffed in a dark bag, tossed into a giant’s mouth, and spat into a wad of gum. Let’s face it, he experienced real trauma. And today, he probably suffers from legit post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). His behavior is now atrocious and he has no friends. Bad seed looks at himself in the mirror one day and decides he wants to be happy, so he is ready to make some changes. This means learning his manners (listening, not talking in movies, saying “please” and “thank you,” etc.). And he is determined to keep trying, even when he makes mistakes.

We’ve been discussing behavior with our children this past week after a few rough days. So as I sat down to read this with my 4-year-old, I really appreciated how the newly reformed “good seed” sometimes still makes mistakes. However, he acknowledges his failure and decides to keep trying. So making mistakes doesn’t make him “bad” at all. ❤ We’ll read The Good Egg later this week.

The artist used scanned watercolor textures and digital paint to create the illustrations for this book. I’ll provide one page spread as an example of the artwork, below:

Bad-Seed-IMG_7342

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE. (NOTE: When I went to grab this link, I saw you can read this title for free online if you’re an Amazon Prime member).


39090869Pterodactyl Show and Tell
Thad Krasnesky
Tanya Leonello, illustrator
October 3, 2018
Flashlight Press

What happens when you take a Pterodactyl to school? With rhyming text and hilarious illustrations,  you’ll follow the young 3rd grade boy and his pterodactyl through social studies, reading, recess, math, Spanish, lunch, science, art, health, music, computer lab, and finally, being promoted to 4th grade. I found it sweet to see the author dedication reads “To my mother, Margaret Krasnesky, career teacher and lifetime Mom.”

The artwork on this book was rendered digitally and you have to keep an eye on the details of the artwork to pick up on some of the humor, take for example the page spread, below (read the book titles):

Pterodactyl-Show-IMG_7343

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it HERE.


To Be Read:

I’m kicking my week off by finishing Unleaving by Melissa Ostrom (releases 3/26/19), The Astonishing Maybe by Shaunta Grimes (releases 3/26/19), and The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (was awarded a 2019 Newbery Honor). I also have a few picture books I just picked up from the library, starting with The Good Egg by Jory John and illustrated by Pete Oswald. It should be an exciting week of reading!!

Collage created using TurboCollage software from www.TurboCollage.com

Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2019 – 65/200
#MustReadin2019 – 8/42

It’s Monday! What are YOU reading?