Children's Lit Middle Grade Reads

What Lives in the Woods Book Review

Title: What Lives in the Woods
Author: Lindsay Currie
Published by: Sourcebook Kids
Publishing Date: Sept. 14, 2021

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Thank you to Sourcebooks for sending me an early review copy!
What Lives in the Woods by Lindsay Currie is a wonderful middle grade book for your favorite spooky readers in your life. I am not a fan of scary books, so my level of horror is middle grade. I read Scritch Scratch last year by Lindsay Currie and was obsessed! I was so excited to get this one in the mail.
Ginny is a middle school students with high hopes of becoming a mystery author like Agatha Christie. She is super bummed when her dad moves her family to Woodmoor Manor for the summer for a renovation project, taking Ginny away from writer camp with her best friend. When they arrive, Ginny begins hearing tales about Woodmoor and he woods surrounding the mansion, and the hauntings that have been sighted by the locals, Ginny gets spooked in her own bedroom. She has to figure out why the ghost is haunting her specifically, and what it needs to move on.
I loved Ginny’s character. She was realistic, while being relatable and funny. Her friendship with her brother and best friend are so sweet throughout the book and I love that the three of them end up working together to solve the mysteries of Woodmoor like Ginny’s hero, Agatha Christie, would have solved them. Overall I gave this 4 out of 5 stars and would recommend to my middle grade horror fans, anyone who loves a great mystery, and for fans of Goosebumps.

Uncategorized YA Reviews

Echo After Echo Review

Title: Echo After Echo
Author: A.R. Capetta
Publishing Date: Hardcover: Oct 10, 2017, Paperback: Oct 12, 2021
Publisher: Candlewick Press
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Thank you to Candlewick for sending me this review copy to celebrate the Paperback release of this beautiful love story/ murder mystery!
Plus: a good part of this plot takes place around the winter holidays so this is the PERFECT time to dive into this one.

Echo After Echo focuses on Zara who has come to the Aurelia Theater in NYC , home to the famous director Leopold , to play her dream role in Echo and Ariston, the Greek tragedy that taught her everything she knows about love, because she has never actually been in love. She is more than prepared for her role as Echo – what she is not ready for is Eli, the beautiful and talented assistant light director for the theater, multiple murders within the theater family, and the pressure to be perfect when nothing is perfect.

AR Capetta weaves this story together so beautifully, that you cannot help but be captured by Zara and Eli and root for their new and young love. Normally, I hate theater/movie set books, but the murder mystery element in this one drew me to want to read this one, and AR Capetta kept me on my toes for the entire story. Zara not only is a character to root for, but despite her flaws, she is a character you want to be like – for her perseverance, her courage, and her unwillingness to be anybody but herself, even when it isn’t easy.

I gave this book 4.5/ 5 stars and would recommend it to high school students who love their theater classes or drama club, to anyone struggling with their own identity, and for lovers of cozy murder mysteries.

Children's Lit Weekly Reviews

#Bookaday – June 3 – Twenty-One Steps

Twenty- One Steps Book Review:

Finding picture books that are non-fiction and as beautiful as fiction books is sort of one of my joyful librarian wins. Twenty-One Steps promised to be thoughtful, beautiful, informational, and emotional – and it fulfilled those things.

The history of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier isn’t known by children, unless they perhaps have a military family member or have visited it. This little-known history is both sad and beautiful. The story behind it haunting, yet necessary to our country’s history. This book was so well written and captured these feelings perfectly. The illustrations were gorgeous and I took my time flipping through this book to really soak up these thoughts.

I gave this book 5/5 stars for its uniqueness and for the beautiful writing accompanied by equally beautiful illustrations. The powerful message, fantastic vocabulary, and stunning verse will keep kids engaged with this text more than once. A perfect read aloud for teachers, librarians and parents. Recommended by me for grades 3 to 7.

Children's Lit

#BookaDay June 2 – Code Breaker, Spy Hunter

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Picture book biographies are always on my radar because I think they make good read-alouds for all grade levels and they are such a great way for me to learn nuggets of information about people I have never heard of. I have read other picture book biographies by Laurie Wallmark and really enjoyed them so I was really glad to get this one and be able to read it.

Elizabeth Friedman was a code cracker during WWI and WWII when women really weren’t present in the organizations that used code breakers. I didn’t know her story until I read this lovely picture book. The art is so much fun with codes woven into the illustrations throughout the story. This story was just another reminder that women can do anything, even when its something that is suppose to be for boys.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for grades 3 to 7. This is a perfect read aloud for Classroom Book a Day for educators and a great bedtime story for parents. This will grab the attention of kids who love history.

Children's Lit Middle Grade Reads Weekly Reviews

#BookaDay June 1 – Unsettled by Reem Faruqi

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This beautiful immigration story told in prose is one for every middle grade bookshelf, whether at home, in the library or in the classroom. Nurah, the main character, is just trying to blend in and find her place in her new school in Georgia after moving from Pakistan.

The characters weave this story together in ways that everyone reading it can relate to someone along the way, whether or not they have experienced moving across the world. I related to Nurah so much, because I had moved across the US at her age and felt so different in my new school in Texas. I loved reading Nurah’s story as she found her voice, and found a place to fit in , in her new world.

I highly recommend this to readers who love novels in verse, quick, beautiful reads, and realistic fiction. Recommended for grades 4-6 specifically. Nothing stood out to me as content to be aware of, but this is a good book to read about tackling bullying as well.

Children's Lit

Pugtato Finds a Thing – Picture Book Review

Pugtato is a super cute hybrid of a potato and a dog. Each of his friends is another vegetable slash animal hybrid as well. When Pugtato finds something shiny and purple and pretty, he doesn’t know what it is, so he asks all his friends to help him figure it out.

This book is about funny vegetable/animal hybrids, friendship, discovering new things, and silly rhymes. I think any child with a sense of humor will enjoy this tale and beg for more of Pugtato and his friends. I cannot wait to share this with my library.

I gave Pugtato 5/5 stars and recommend for kids ages 3 – 7 years old.

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Read-A-Thin TBR

If you haven’t heard of the Read-a-Thin Read-a-thon, it is a read-a-thon that is dedicated to thinning down those massive TBR piles you have going on in your home. My current TBR has over 500 books so I am in definite need to thin down my own TBR. I am also doing a group challenge to thin down my ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) pile. So all my read-a-thin picks are ARCs.

Read-a-thin is run by Jessica (@jescamarie493 on Instagram) and Amanda (@acourtofbooksandlove on Instagram) and they have come up with both Instagram photo challenges as well as 5 reading challenges for this month.

They run reading sprints on Twitter so make sure to follow them there to get some extra reading in ( )

So I made my ARC August/ Readathin TBR and here is the photo for that!

  1. Read a Thin Book – The Green Children of WoolPit by J. Anderson Coats
  2. Read a Book in a Series – Rage by Cora Carmack
  3. Read a Book that Has Been on Your Shelf for 2 Years – The Plot to Kill Hitler by Patricia McCormick
  4. Read a Book with a Bright Cover – Dear Sweet Pea by Julie Murphy
  5. Read a Book Recommended by A Friend – Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

*Note* All links to Amazon are affiliate links. If you decide to purchase from these links I will make a small amount of money. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart if you decide to buy anything.

Lone Star Book Blog Tour Posts

The Shadow Writer by Eliza Maxwell – Review

Genre:  Psychological Suspense / Domestic Thriller
Publisher: Lake Union Press
Date of Publication: May 1, 2019

Number of Pages: 348

Scroll down for the giveaway!

Every writer has a story. Some are deadlier than others. 
Aspiring author Graye Templeton will do anything to escape the horrific childhood crime that haunts her. After a life lived in shadows, she’s accepted a new job as protégé to Laura West, influential book blogger and wife of an acclaimed novelist. Laura’s connections could make Graye’s publishing dreams a reality. But there’s more to Laura than meets the eye. 
Behind the veneer of a charmed life, Laura’s marriage is collapsing. Her once-lauded husband is descending into alcoholism and ruin and bringing Laura nearer to the edge. 
As the two women form a bond that seems meant to be, long-buried secrets claw their way into the present, and the line between friendship and obsession begins to blur, forcing each to decide where her loyalties lie. Running from the past is a dangerous game, and the loser could end up dead.


Eliza Maxwell lives in Texas with her ever-patient husband and two kids. She’s an artist and writer, an introvert, and a British cop drama addict. She loves nothing more than to hear from readers.
TWO WINNERS: Signed Copy + $25 Amazon Gift Card
ONE WINNER: Signed Copy 
APRIL 30-MAY 10, 2019
(U.S. Only)
Eliza Maxwell is the most underrated writer of this decade. I am continuously blown away by her writing and her novels. This was by far one of the best thrillers I have ever read, and don’t think I am just saying this, I truly mean it.
The Shadow Writer is dark, twisted, mysterious and enthralling. I was completely captivated by the mystery in the book and trying to figure out what characters did what. For the first time since college, I stayed up way too late past my bedtime to finish this book with more than 100 pages left. And then I couldn’t sleep because I was still reeling from the twists and turns in every chapter all the way to the end.
I pre-ordered this book months ago after knowing how much I loved The Widow’s Watcher last year and The Shadow Writer did not disappoint. The characters are so real and you feel empathy and sympathy for the majority of the book for a character that may or may not deserve it. Eliza Maxwell gives us every emotion possible to throw at one particular character that I cannot reveal because I don’t want to give too much away. You just need to pick up this book and read it. I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars and recommend to any fans of thrillers.
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The Shadow Writer Aesthetic Board

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A Day in the Life of a School Librarian

7:28 AM – Arrive at work. I start my mornings at our Upper Campus which is 6th through 12th grade. Most of the time I am the first to unlock the library which also houses the offices of our vice principal and school counselor.

View from my desk, upper campus library

7:35 AM – Computer is booted up. I spend this time checking my email and replying to what I need. This is also when I go over my planner for the day and add anything to it that I need to.

Planner this week

7:45 – Students start arriving in the library. Many of our dual credit juniors and seniors utilize the library on the mornings they are not on the junior college campus.

Upper campus library

8:05 – Announcements End. This is when the break room clears out. If I need to print and copy anything I do this now. I also sometimes go for my second cup of coffee at this time, check in in the front office, and fill up my water.

View of my office, upper campus

8:15 – Start cataloguing. When I inherited this library my office was completely stacked floor to ceiling with books and old files. All the shelves in the library were crammed full. Since switching to an online automation from a card catalog last year (hello 21st century!) I have managed to clean a lot out. I am still cataloguing and weeding the shelves here and in my office. I catalog and prepare all new materials for both campuses here.

2nd view of my office

9:30 – Head to Elementary School (Pre-K through 5th grade)

View of my desk, elementary campus

9:35 – Check in at Elementary School

9:40 Teach Pre-K – Usually includes story time and some sort of activity in their journals. I also give them one sticker to put in their jounrals for each book we read.

Elementary library, I usually teach prek and kinder on the carpet

10:20 – Teack Kindergarten – Same as preK but I vary the books and activities

Teaching space for older kids, we are watching author videos this week for book fair

11:00 Teach 2nd Grade – We are learning the dewey decimal system at this point and learning to navigate the library without my help. They are getting good at this.

Fiction section

11:30 – Front Office Duty

12:10 – Cataloguing at the Elementary School. I started cataloguing and weeding our 15,000 book collection last year when I got word I had to have the entire library in boxes for construction by the end of May. I ended up mostly weeding at this point. I am up to almost 4000 books in our online catalogue and I weeded about 5000 books last year.

Carts contain recently cataloged books

12:45 Lunch time!

1:15 – Small break to read for the Lectio Committee I am part of. We pick 20 books each year for 4th through 8th graders to read. They get to vote on their favorite and the author gets a prize from us.

Currently reading

1:45 – Daily Duties – shelving, working with a volunteer, straightening shelves, checking in books, rearranging etc.

Non fiction section

3:00 Last bell for the day

Tree house

3:15 – Check all books in the book drop in

3:30 – Time to go home!

I hope you enjoyed this walk through of my typical Monday. What would you like to know about being a librarian?

Children's Lit Middle Grade Reads Weekly Reviews

Spindrift and the Orchid

In a world full of magic, there is only a handful of items that can grant the owner full and complete power: the Orchids. Spindrift is a girl who lives with her grandfather above his shop full of curious magical items. She knows her parents died when she was a baby in a shipwreck and somehow that she was sent away from the ship in a small boat with a glass ball. She doesn’t know much else about her parents until her grandfather pulls out a box full of letters that were written by Spindrift’s mother. Together they read the letters one by one in the evenings. As she finds out the secrets that led Sprindrift’s mother to her death, Spindrift has a decision to make: does she let the Orchid’s control her or does she let them go, once and for all?

Orchid Divider

There were many elements to this book that I absolutely loved. This world has a sense of magic that is unlike most and the ideas behind the orchids was absolutely beautiful. I liked Spindrift as a character, but most of the other characters fell flat for me. They just didn’t have much of a personality. The twins, Spindrift’s friends, could have been interchangeable because they both had the same personality which was that they didn’t have a personality. Spindrift’s grandfather as the secondary character in this novel should have had more of a presence but even he had some major flaws and conflicting story lines.

Orchid Divider

There were many moments in this book where the writing was clumsy or a little awkward. When I finished I thought for sure that this was a debut novel because the writing style just didn’t seem developed enough to be from an author who has had more than a dozen books published.

Orchid Divider

I gave this book 3 out 5 stars. I would recommend this to middle grade readers who like a fantasy adventure book with a female protagonist.

Title: Spindrift and the Orchid

Author: Emma Trevayne

Publishing Date: May 8, 2018

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