Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Currently Coveting {July}

July is here! 
This is one of my favorite months of the year. Why, you ask? The list is long, but includes watermelon for every meal, wearing full-out red white and blue to celebrate the birth of our country, and lots of beach days. My bestie and I have a new tradition where she comes to visit me for the Fourth because I absolutely refuse to leave my (historic) hometown for the most important holiday of the year. I am so excited because not only is Allie coming again this year, she's also bringing along her twin sister! There is nothing better than when the three of us get together. We have so much fun planned for their trip this year!

At last year's fireworks display!
I know that I've already established my summer reading list, but that can't stop me from wanting to put these on my library list! Below you'll find some of my picks for this month.

Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet by Charlie N. Holmberg // This is a new release from the author of one of my favorite fantasy trilogies (you can read my review of the first one here). This one's about a woman with a talent for magical baking. I'm looking forward to revisiting Holmberg's sweet and simple writing style.

The Gallery by Laura Marx Fitzgerald // Historical fiction is my favorite genre, so I was immediately intrigued when I came across this historical fiction novel for middle grade readers. It's told from the perspective of a young girl who works as a maid in a grand house in the roaring '20's. There's a little bit of mystery and of course, I'm in love with the cover.

A Green and Ancient Light by Frederic S. Durbin // This fantasy novel was recently released, and what caught my eye was its allusion to Cinderella. You know I'm always up for a fairytale, so I'll be adding this to my library list.

The Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne // Since I've been on a bit of a thriller kick lately, this one caught my eye. I'm really fascinated by the research on the link between twin siblings (may or may not have to do with the fact that my besties are twins), and this plays up that link to a whole new level. Definitely not one to read in the dark.


Sometimes, these currently coveting lists are not helpful in that they actually cause my reading list to grow when really it already contains more books than I could possibly read in my lifetime. The ultimate plight of bookworms, no?

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

More Summer Reading Lists!

Is your summer reading list growing out of control already? 
Just me, then.

School is officially out (we wrapped up the year just yesterday) and I am both incredibly sad about having to say goodbye to my students, mentors, and friends, and incredibly excited for a few weeks of non-existent to-do lists and the beginning of a new chapter! More on that later.

If you're still looking for books to add to your stack of summer reads, I've rounded up a bunch of lists from some of my favorite book bloggers and fellow bookworms. If your list is already monstrous (like mine), then you might want to look away. This post is not going to help you narrow anything down because it is chock-full of even more alluring reads.

I recently posted my 2016 Summer Reading Challenge and Kids' Summer Reading Challenge, both of which I'm completing this summer (along with trying to read most of the summer reading recommendations for my students). I recognize that I'm not the best at completing reading challenges or sticking to my TBR lists, but I'm trying my best to make this summer more about intentionally reading. For that reason, I'm thinking about times of the day when I tend to be scrolling on my phone or watching mindless television, and replacing those moments with time spent reading (or listening to) a book.

I wanted to share a few summer reading lists that I've bookmarked for myself this year, so that you can have even more options when it comes to crafting your own list for this summer.

17 Big, Fat Books for Your Summer Reading // Modern Mrs. Darcy is one of my favorite sites for finding new reads, and Anne's podcast is also my top pick to listen to when I head out for a long walk. I definitely have a few books on this list that I'd like to read, and I think Anne's right when she says that there's no better time for a behemoth of a book than in the summer.

2016 Summer Reading Guide from Anne Bogel (Modern Mrs. Darcy) // Each year, Anne puts together an extremely cultivated and organized summer reading guide. This is the first year that I've browsed it thoroughly, and you can bet that I'll be using it to fill some of the categories for my own challenge this year. (She also has a yearlong reading challenge that is similar to mine in its flexibility). Anne reads hundreds of books (no joke) to make this list, so you know that when she recommends a book, she really means it.

100 Picture Books to Read This Summer // Janssen is another favorite book blogger of mine. She used to be a children's librarian and is now a stay-at-home mom, so you know she's got the knowledge to pick great books for your kids this summer. I'm taking this list with me to my next book sale to scope out titles for my classroom next year, and of course, I'll be using it to influence my library picks all year long.

Your Ultimate Summer Reading List from Real Simple Magazine // This is a favorite publication of mine, so I definitely trust their judgement. There's quite a few books on here that I haven't heard of before too!

ALSC Summer Reading List // This is a great resource for summer reading lists tailored to specific age groups. I'd recommend printing it out and bringing it to the library with you this summer! This is the list that I'll be following to keep up with my students' recommended summer reading.

Education World's Summer Reading Lists & Booktivities // This is another great resource for parents/teachers and also includes ideas for activities to keep kids excited about reading!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Review: All the Missing Girls

When I recently took a trip south to visit my brother for spring break, I read The Girl on the Train and it reminded me how much I enjoy a good thriller (that is, if I'm reading it in the daytime). I recently went looking for more books along that same vein because I think it's the perfect genre for long days at the beach or the pool. I didn't find anything that caught my eye until I came across All the Missing Girls. I was so glad to receive a copy for advanced review, and let me tell you, this book absolutely satisfied my craving for a good thriller! If you're a fan of Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train, I highly recommend this to you when it's published on June 28th.

Like many books in this genre, I don't want to say too much for fear of giving it away, but I'll give you the basic rundown on the plot. Our protagonist, Nic, left her tiny hometown ten years ago after the tragic disappearance of her best friend, Corinne. Nic settled into the big city, found a job and a wealthy, handsome fiancé, and tried to forget about Cooley Ridge. She's forced to return, however, when her father's health declines and she's put in charge of selling his house. Shortly after she arrives back in her hometown, another young girl goes missing. Nic is forced to relive the disappearance of her best friend all those years ago as ties between the two cases are discovered and once again suspicion is cast on the few people that she cares about in her small hometown.

What makes this book stand out from others in this genre is not the plot itself -- missing girl, throwbacks to teenage romance and jealousy, a girl returned to the place that she fought so hard to leave -- but in the way that it's told. When the novel begins, we see Nic returning to her childhood home, but suddenly the book flashes forward and we're seeing the story unfold backwards, from Day 15 of the missing girl's case to the day she disappeared. You might think that this would be disorienting -- and it was, a little -- but I felt that it really enhanced my ability to experience that same kind of foggy confusion that the characters felt as they tried to identify the culprit. I was actually stunned when all was revealed, and because I read the book so quickly (as I tend to do with thrillers), I walked around with a dazed look for hours afterwards. I promise you, this book does not disappoint. I think this would make a great book club pick for this summer, and I'm using it to fulfill the "read one new bestseller" category of my summer reading challenge because I can bet you it'll climb the most popular list this year.

Bottom Line Rating: 5/5

Title: All the Missing Girls
Author: Megan Miranda
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2016
Price: $16 when you pre-order on Amazon
ISBN: 1501107968
Format: Advanced Review Copy, E-book
Source: NetGalley

Note: Top Shelf Text was provided with a copy of this text by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Kids' Summer Reading Challenge

Back again with a new summer reading challenge, and this time it's for the littles in your life! I made this challenge with only four categories because I wanted children to feel successful with it -- no matter what level they're reading at! It should be fun and easy to rise to this challenge. In addition to my grown-up summer reading challenge, I'll be reading children's literature to fulfill these categories too, so I've included some suggestions for middle grade novels (my biggest area of expertise) in each category below, however, this challenge could easily be met with picture books or with early chapter books as well.

You can download the PDF version here.

#1: Read a book that takes place in a far-off land (real or imaginary)
This is a category that my always growing to-read stack could easily fulfill. I love fantasy books, so I'm going to take it in that direction with Alistair Grimm's Odditorium, which I was given last summer and still haven't read. I also just purchased Gail Carson Levine's Fairest, so that's a contender for this category too.

My recommendations: 
Hunt for the Pyxis by Zoë Ferraris
Island of the Aunts by Eva Ibbotson
House of Secrets by Chris Columbus

#2: Read a non-fiction book about something or someone that you find interesting
For this one, I'd like to read the Young Reader's Edition of I am Malala, a young woman whom I find both inspiring and interesting. I really haven't read too many memoirs or biographies for kids, but I'm thinking Roald Dahl's autobiography might be a good pick too.

#3 Read the first book in a new series
I'm hoping to read The Ability for this, which is a highly rated fantasy series that I've had my eye on for a while. I have a ton of middle grade series listed on my middle grade shelf on Goodreads, if you're looking for a selection to choose from. I highly recommend The Mysterious Benedict Society and The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series. They are two of my absolute favorites.

#4 Read a book about a book
This is always a favorite category of mine. (I even wrote a whole list of books about books for adults!) I recommend The Forbidden Library, but Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library is a favorite among my students so I think I'll be reading that one this summer, along with Book Scavenger. (All three of these books could work for the first book in a series category too!)

I'm in the camp of teachers who believe that it doesn't really matter what your child is reading this summer, as long as they are reading a lot!! Reading is such a great way for kids to relax (screen-free) during the summer time, and buddy-reading with your kids can be a catalyst for great conversations. If you're looking for other ways to make reading fun this summer, you can read my post from a few years ago here.

I'm realizing I have a whole lot of books on my to-read list for this summer, so you can bet that I'm officially starting on that list this weekend! If you're looking for picks tailored to the little in your life (or for yourself), feel free to shoot me an e-mail at!

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Summer Reading Challenge

Because summer is only three (three!!!!) weeks away for me, I'm already anticipating which books I should put on my library holds list leading up to my first day of summer.

 I'm looking forward to summer for so many reasons, one of them being more time to read whatever I want. I'm thinking it'll be fun to challenge myself a little bit, so I've put together a summer reading list that's flexible and easy for you to use too! Next week I'll post a summer reading challenge specifically for kids, but I think this is flexible enough that it could be used by readers of all ages. I'll include suggestions for children's literature to fit the list next week, but this week I wanted to include some of the books that I'm thinking about using to fulfill these seven categories.

You can download the PDF version of the challenge here.

One: A Book that Features the Sea

I couldn't resist putting this on the list. If you know me in real life (or follow me on Instagram), you'll know that the ocean is close to my heart. I love living near the water and genuinely feel a huge difference when I'm away from it for long periods of time. Summer is the perfect time to spend hours at the beach with a book in hand, so I thought this was the perfect category to kick off my challenge.

I'm thinking I might fill this category with Island of the Lost: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World, which has been on my list since I included it on March's Currently Coveting list, although I've also had Isaac's Storm on my to-read list for quite some time.

My recommendations for this category:
The Fossil Hunter by Shelley Emling
Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier
In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick
The Terror by Dan Simmons
The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan

Two: A Book Recommended by Your Best Friend

I know you probably have more than one best friend, so ask for recommendations from all of them and then take your pick! For this, I asked two of my besties for their recommendations. My bestie the high school civics teacher recommended Revolutionary, which is the story of one women who disguised herself as a soldier during the Revolutionary War. That she gave me a historical recommendation is not surprising, but she compares it to Mulan, which is a favorite Disney movie of ours so that's motivating me to read it. Another friend who is a speech language pathologist recommended the first in the Georgia Nicolson series, because she says everyone needs a silly YA book on their summer reading list and the wit and charm of this British series perfectly fits that need. I'll probably end up reading both books since they're so different.

Three: A Book that You've Been Meaning to Read

I have so many books that could fit this category, so I'm going to leave it open for myself. I have a couple books in mind, including Sue Monk Kidd's The Invention of Wings, Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, and Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. 

Four: The First Book in a Series

I've been meaning to read the Lunar Chronicles since the fall, so I'll be filling this category with Cinder, but I have a few other series that I'd like to begin too, so it's possible that I'll be starting more than one series this summer.

My recommendations:

Five: A New Bestseller

I'll be sure to let you know when I discover which of the summer's most popular books is going to be on my reading list, but this category is definitely one that I'll have to think about for a bit longer because it requires browsing summer reading lists -- something that I savor when I have the time to do it.

Six: A Work of Classic Literature

I've been slowly working on reading more of the classics, but I'm the first to admit that they're not the first books I reach for when perusing a shelf. I'm still wanting to read more of Jane Austen's novels, having only finished Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility (and about half of Emma before abandoning it), so I may pick another one of her's to read this summer. I'm also thinking I may take another crack at Jane Eyre, which I read in college but didn't love at the time.

Seven: A Nonfiction Book about an Unfamiliar Topic

I'm super picky about my nonfiction picks, so this is another category that I'm leaving completely open for myself. I usually only read nonfiction when I happen upon a book or see one recommended by several sources. 
Here are a few that have caught my eye: