Monday, September 7, 2020

#30Booksin3Months 2020 Summer Reading Challenge

If you follow me on Instagram, then you will have seen that I decided to participate in Jessica Brody's #30Booksin3Months Reading Challenge. From Memorial Day to Labor Day (so yes, technically slightly over 3 months), she has challenged her followers to read and try to complete 30 books. I am happy to say I succeeded. Here I am going to reflect on what I read and look at my stats for these 30 books. As I am writing this, I actually have no idea what the stats will shape up to be, but I am excited to find out.

In June, I finished the following books:
  • Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (mini review)
  • Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy by Rey Terciero (review)
  • Hero on a Bicycle by Shirley Hughes (mini review)
  • Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray (audiobook review)
  • Four Days of You and Me by Miranda Kenneally (review)
  • The Tourist Attraction by Sarah Morgenthaler (Twitter review)
  • The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang (mini review)
  • The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Marianna Zapata
  • A Taste of Sage by Yaffa S. Santos (mini review)
  • Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry (series review)

Looking at these titles, they break down to the following:
  • Children's/Middle Grade: 1
  • Young Adult: 6
  • Adult: 3
  • Diverse Reads: 4

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Review: Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham

Dreamland Burning

By Jennifer Latham
My Rating 4 out of 5 stars

Present day Tulsa. Rowan wants to savor the last day of her summer vacation before she begins her summer internship. When the workers renovating the pool house suddenly leave, she discovers a buried body they uncovered. Readers are then flashed back to 1921, to Will and his story of navigating the racial tensions of Tulsa as the KKK moves into town and after the Osage Allotment Act was passed by Congress, mandating any person of half or more descendant Osage required a white guardian. Will's mother is full Osage. The weaving together of the dual timelines and dual perspectives leads readers (and listeners) to discovering who’s body Rowan finds buried under the floorboards. It is the story of blatant racism both present day and in 1921 leading up and the night of the Tulsa Race Riot. This is the story about learning who you are, what’s important, and standing up for those beliefs.

This book is harsh as Latham uses violence, horrendous terms no decent human should use and more to be as authentic as possible to the time period, which she addresses the decision to do this in her author’s note. There are many times throughout that I did not believe Will's treatment or lack of blatant racism that was not directed at him because of him being half Osage. 
I wish we could say that we have moved forward in the United States to where something like this could not happen and I truly hope that what happened in Tulsa would not be possible now however we know that Black Americans are dying a disproportional rate and victims of wrongly incarcerations or unfair sentencing terms at a much higher rate than white Americans.

I do recommend this book to anyone wishing to open up dialogue with the caveat of knowing that there is violence and harsh language as I stated above. It is a great read to begin difficult conversations on what you are doing to add or combat to being an anti-racist. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Have Loved But Did Not Review

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at Jana's blog That Artsy Reader Girl

This week we are discussing books we loved that did not review. Since I was ib a blogging hiatus while I was serving on my award committees, I have come across so many fantastic books. Here are the ones that immediately jump into my mind when I think about ones I have appreciated and adored, but did not write up here (or GoodReads). I also made notes on whether I read them as a physical book, an audiobook, or both in some cases. 


A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy) by Deborah Harkness
I have expressed a few times since I have come back from my blogging hiatus that I love this title--and really the whole series. It is one of my all time favorites. I enjoy reading as well as listening to the audiobooks of this series. I am not a huge re-reader, but these are ones that I turn to because I always find some other hidden Easter egg to explore. 

Lovely War by Julie Berry
I read this book during my time I served on Best Fiction for Young Adult committee through YALSA. (See our 2020 BFYA list here) I loved how Berry was able to incorporate so many layers to this story. It is set during World War I and I just love the incorporation of music and also the way she addresses the system and blatant racism our Black troops experienced even as they served our country--it has a lot of meat for discussion. I enjoyed this one as an audiobook, which I think really does a great job of bringing it to life and also read the physical book with my staff book discussion group at work this past February. 

Heroine by Mindy McGinnis
As a former athlete, I have a soft spot for sports fiction and I have always loved a great problem novel--I wrote a thesis on the subgenre during my master's degree program. I also know how much the opiate crisis has destroyed families in the area that I live (New England) as well as the country as a whole. This book does an amazing job of drawing you into Mickey's story and watching her get hooked on drugs. This one I devoured as a physical book. Trigger warning for blatant descriptions of drug use. 

Friday, August 7, 2020

Bout of Books 29: Once Again I'm Participating--Are You?

Before I took my blogging hiatus, I participated in a number of Bout of Books readathons. I even served as a Bout of Books expert several times and had a great time participating and cheering everyone. While this Bout of Books falls during the week I return to being physically in school, I still want to try to participate. Not familiar with it?

About Bout of Books:
The Bout of Books readathon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It’s a weeklong readathon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 17th and runs through Sunday, August 23rd in YOUR time zone. Bout of Books is low-pressure. All reading-in-place times, Twitter chats, and exclusive Instagram challenges are completely optional. For Bout of Books 29 information and updates, visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

My TBR for Bout of Books Week:
The goal of Bout of Books is simply to read as much as you can. There used to be blogging challenges, but they have dropped those this time around. There will be photo challenges on Instagram that I will participate as I can. I do not have a defined TBR yet. I do know I will try to do an audiobook and with returning to school this week, I will probably continue to do some books I have on my list to want to be able to recommend to students through booktalks--formal or informal conversations. 

If I pull together a more formal TBR, they will be updated in this section prior to Bout of Books. 

Daily Updates:
Instead of posting daily, I will continue to update this post. While it means you will have to keep checking back, this is the way I have done it in the past, and would like to continue doing so (since the guidelines permit it still). 



  • Read:  
    • 20% (80ish) pages in The Inevitable Fall of Christopher Cynster before I fell asleep. 
    • 50 pages in The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert
  • Time Listen:
    • 45 minutes of Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Lantham (roughly 40 pages)
  • Books Completed: 0
  • Pages Completed: 170 pages
  • Instagram Challenge: completed--see my post for my currently reading
Thoughts from Monday: This is going to be a busy week, with getting worked items ready to go for the start of school (staff reports back to the building physically on Friday in my district) and doing a bunch of errands before it all begins. I am squeezing in reading when I feel up to it and have the time--such as listening to an audiobook at the grocery store yesterday. 



  • Read: 
    • 30% (about 120 pages) additional of The Inevitable Fall of Christopher Cynster
    • additional 15 pages in The Voting Booth
  • Time Listen:
    • 30 minutes of Dreamland Burning (roughly 25 pages)
  • Books Completed: 0
  • Pages Completed: 150 pages 
  • Instagram Challenge: completed--see my post for the cover love prompt
Yesterday was one of those days I do not feel like I got anything accomplished other than being in my car back and forth running my daughter to appointments and such. I also had a hard time focusing, so I just was not as productive as far as reading went. 

I spent the later time in the night I would be reading watching the Democratic National Convention and I loved the diversity portrayed during the roll call portion. It has me thinking about it and how we need more of that! Also, I loved that the broadcast showed Joe and Jill Biden in the school library of the school Mrs. Biden used to teach at--yay for school libraries!!

My goal for tomorrow is to finish a book! I am not one to usually read more than one book, but I have been bouncing due to lack of focus. I listen to the audiobook while in my car though yesterday I did spend some time listening to music too as I was reading my Kindle while I wanted for my daughter to finish her dentist appointment. Find out tomorrow (or likely Thursday morning) to see if I am successful!

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Mini Reviews: Ways to Make Sunshine by Renee Watson and Throw Like a Girl by Sarah Henning

This batch of mini reviews features books I am reviewing from ARCs. The first up is a younger middle grade novel by Renee Watson. The second is a young adult sports romance novel.

Ways to Make Sunshine
By Renee Watson
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Ryan Hart is finishing up the last months of fourth grade at Vernon Elementary in Portland, Oregon. Through the 178 pages, we get to know Ryan as she is experiencing change: moving during the school year (but staying in the same school), financial troubles since her father lost his job at a post office branch that closed down, her father starting a new job that is a third shift position, and her mother who has her own news at the end of the book. We also get to meet her two best friends: Amanda who moved to a new nicer neighborhood with her family before the school year started and Kiki, whom she gets to walk with to school each day now that she moved closer to her. 

An adorable younger middle grade novel full of heart, this is a great one to give to those that are advancing up to longer chapter books. Full of friendship, family including loving parents, and sibling shenanigans, this is a delightful bildungsroman. What I particularly love about this book is that is shows a Black family in such a positive light highlighting the strong, engaged parents Ryan and her brother, Ray, have along with their grandmother, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Anyone adult who is a fan of Ramona--this is a perfect book to give to a student or child that you want to experience those feelings Ramona evokes AND put more diverse characters into their hands at the same time. 

Throw Like a Girl
By Sarah Henning
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Liv needs to play softball her junior year so she can earn a college scholarship--she knows it will be only way she can afford to go to college with her mom out of work due to cancer and her family being supported only by her dad's detective salary. When she makes a split second decision to throw a punch at another girl on the rival softball team, her life has altered course. Losing her scholarship to play at her prep school, she must return to the public school--the rivals of her former school. Her mission now: to prove to her new school's softball coach she is not the hot headed player but is a true teammate. She does this by joining the school's football team after being recruited by the quarterback. Everything is not all fun and games though--she will have to keep growing and continue to stand up for what she believes.

This is a quick easy read of a female athlete having to prove her worth to a male dominated sport. While there was little that surprised me, this is still an engaging read. Those who like football and softball will get lost in the detailed descriptions of play. Those who do not enjoy these elements, might get bogged down in some cases. I liked the relationship Liv has with her parents, sister and sister-in-law, and her best friend. Having just read Break the Fall recently, I did not enjoy this one quite as much because the relationship was more vital to this story--though I understand that was an important element to this story (and I cannot say why because of spoilers). I do recommend this book, but do not expect a hard hitting contemporary blended with this sports fiction.