Children's Lit Weekly Reviews

The Lady with the Books by Kathy Stinson – Children’s Book Review

Title: The Lady with the Books
Author: Kathy Stinson
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Publishing Date: October 6, 2020
Sensitive Content: Mention of a dead father (killed in WWII)
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The Lady with the Books is the tale of children after World War II in Germany. Their city is destroyed and they are starving. But they find solace in a book display at a nearby museum and leave inspired to perhaps change the world. I loved this little slice of history that hardly anyone talks about. After WWII, German children were the victims of so much hate, a poor economy, and lost parents. This book reminds us that there is hope out there in the world with the next generation and that we can always find hope and solace in books.

I was happy to read in the footnotes of the book who “The Lady with the Books” actually was and how she brought this exhibit to cities around Germany. I was also happy to learn about what happened to the collection and the Book Castle.

I would recommend this book to my early non fiction readers, anyone who adores children’s literature, and to students learning about the aftermath of WWII.

Children's Lit Middle Grade Reads Weekly Reviews

Don’t Check Out This Book by Kate Klise and M. Sarah Klise

Don’t Check Out This Book is the perfect title for reluctant readers in 2nd through 5th grade. This novel is full of hilarious puns in a wild format of letters, emails, newspapers, post it notes and pictures. I found myself laughing out loud and not able to put this one down until I had finished it.

My favorite character in the novel is the librarian, who doesn’t follow the rules and always manages to get everyone to read more books. She is the perfect example of “librarians are the rebels of schools”.

I gave this book a 5 out of 5 for its clever antics. Go ahead, pick it up, just don’t check it out. Recommended for grades 2-5, for the young rebels, the reluctant readers, the kids who are a little different, and for those who enjoy hilarious stories.

Weekly Reviews YA Reviews


I haven’t been on in awhile in part because I have been writing and in part because I have been working. I miss blogging though. I miss reviewing books and taking pictures and making book lists up.

I finished My Lady Jane last night written my the self-coined “Lady Janies” and man was this a FUN book.

Title: My Lady Jane
Author: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
Publisher: HarperTeen
Year: 2016
Add It: Goodreads
Buy It: Amazon


My Lady Jane is the fantasy retelling of the story of Lady Jane Grey. Jane Grey was the infamous 9 day queen between King Edward and Bloody Mary, the children of King Henry VIII. In this version of history, the country of England isn’t torn between the Catholics and the Protestants but rather those with magical abilities to transform into animals and those that admonish them. Lady Jane Grey is married off to a man she has never met and in a plot to overthrow England entirely, she is made into queen when Edward is pronounced dead.


In short, this book was hilarious. Laugh out loud funny! While rather long, the pages flew by because the story and characters were interesting and there was humor in all the plots and narration. The plot is very vastly different than the actual historical events, and although you do not need to have background knowledge on this part of history it does help you as a reader, to know what was really going on. I definitely suggest reading a couple short articles about the history of Lady Jane Grey and King Edward before you read the story.

This story is told from 3 different points of view – King Edwards, Lady Jane Grey, and her husband, Gifford. Each character is so easy to relate to and has their own little back stories and complicated teenage thoughts – as they are all teenagers with very adult problems. My favorite character of the 3 was Lady Jane as she has an addiction to books and libraries and wants to make sure the country invests more in libraries and less money in war. A very admirable idea if you ask me.

Overall I LOVED this book and gave it 5 stars which makes it one of the first 5 star books I have read in awhile. I definitely recommend it to anyone who likes a little humor in their books, just as much action as romance, and anyone who enjoys a historical fiction novel.

For Parents/Teachers/Librarians

I thought I would start adding a section into my reviews to help out anyone who is looking to purchase this book so they know the content and the intended age audience of the books I am reviewing. I know as a librarian and teacher I cannot read all the books my students do, so I am constantly looking for reviews of the books.

Recommended Age: 14+
Sexual Content: A hint that a marriage was consummated with no details as to what that means except it is referred to by Jane’s mother as “the special hug”. Lots of dreaming of kissing a girl from Edward and one kissing scene between Jane and Gifford after they are married.
Drinking: Gifford gets drunk on ale at the wedding feast. Wine and alcohol are mentioned as normal day to day life.
Drugs: None.
Violence: There is a bar fight and a battle scene, but both are very short and don’t have a lot of details.

Anything else you would want to know about a book as an adult looking to recommend it to students/patrons/ children ? Just let me know what I should put in this section of my reviews

Free Wallpaper

Enjoy this free wallpaper with a quote on it from My Lady Jane.

Download from this Link
Lone Star Book Blog Tour Posts

When the Men Were Gone Blog Tour – Review


 Genre: Historical / Biographical / Sports Fiction

Publisher: William Morrow 

Date of Publication: October 2, 2018

Number of Pages: 240

Scroll down for giveaway!

A cross between Friday Night Lights and The Atomic City Girls, When The Men Were Gone is a debut historical novel based on the true story of Tylene Wilson, a woman in 1940s Texas who, in spite of extreme opposition, became a female football coach in order to keep her students from heading off to war.

Football is the heartbeat of Brownwood, Texas. Every Friday night for as long as assistant principal Tylene Wilson can remember, the entire town has gathered in the stands, cheering their boys on. Each September brings with it the hope of a good season and a sense of unity and optimism.

Now, the war has changed everything. Most of the Brownwood men over eighteen and under forty-five are off fighting, and in a small town the possibilities are limited. Could this mean a season without football? But no one counted on Tylene, who learned the game at her daddy’s knee. She knows more about it than most men, so she does the unthinkable, convincing the school to let her take on the job of coach.

Faced with extreme opposition by the press, the community, rival coaches, and referees — and even the players themselves — Tylene remains resolute. And when her boys rally around her, she leads the team — and the town — to a Friday night and a subsequent season they will never forget. 

Based on a true story, When the Men Were Gone is a powerful and vibrant novel of perseverance and personal courage.


“Sublimely ties together the drama of high school football, gender politics, and the impact of war on a small town in Texas.” – Best of Books, 2018, Sports Illustrated

“A beautiful story that stays in your heart long after you finish reading.” – Jodi Thomas, New York Times bestselling author

“Based on a true story that most people probably don’t know, readers will find plenty to love in Herrera Lewis’ debut.” — Kirkus Review


When the Men Were Gone is the perfect fall read for any Texas football fan. This book is jam packed with history, feminism, and football. As a young woman who grew up in Texas and was a fan of the Friday night lights at my own high school, this novel brought back so many good memories of the stands jammed pack with everyone from school, the black and gold uniforms from Plano East (where I graduated from) and the sounds of cheering, screaming, and dead silence at times.

The characters in this book are so well imagined that it almost seems as if I know them. Tylene is this strong woman who becomes the football coach in the 1940s. Something unheard of, especially in the conservative small towns in Texas. Even now, this is almost unheard of. But Tylene knows the game and is dedicated to the school where she is a vice principal. Based on a real life, you can feel Tylene’s up and down emotions throughout this book as she is threatened again and again by people she trusted and complete strangers.

We need more books based on the plots of women pioneers, and this is one of those books. The stories of real women doing what they “shouldn’t” or “can’t” are so necessary to inspire young women and girls in this day and age when girls are making more headway as professionals in nearly every field. This book was inspiring and so fun. A wonderful and quick read for anyone interested in history and sports.

I ended up giving this book 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it to anyone who has stood in a Texas football stadium and felt the rush of love towards the team you support and anyone who loves Texas history.

Marjorie Herrera Lewis is an award-winning sportswriter, named the first female Dallas Cowboys beat writer when she was with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. She later joined the SportsDay staff of The Dallas Morning News, where she continued to cover the NFL and professional tennis. She is currently a contributing sportswriter for 

While writing When the Men Were Gone, she became inspired to try her hand at coaching football herself and was added to the Texas Wesleyan University football coaching staff in December 2016. Marjorie has degrees from Arizona State University, The University of Texas in Arlington, Southern New Hampshire University, and certificates from Southern Methodist University, and Cornell University. She is married and has two grown daughters and one son-in-law.







June 18-28, 2019


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6/18/19 Author Video Hall Ways Blog
6/18/19 Notable Quotable StoreyBook Reviews
6/19/19 Review That’s What She’s Reading
6/19/19 Review Sydney Young, Stories
6/20/19 Excerpt Texas Book Lover
6/21/19 Author Interview Chapter Break Book Blog
6/21/19 Excerpt Momma on the Rocks
6/22/19 Review All the Ups and Downs
6/23/19 Review Tangled in Text
6/23/19 Scrapbook Page Rainy Days with Amanda
6/24/19 Playlist & BONUS Review Reading by Moonlight
6/25/19 Review #Bookish
6/25/19 Guest Post Missus Gonzo
6/26/19 Review The Clueless Gent
6/27/19 Review Story Schmoozing Book Reviews

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Monthly Wrap-Up Uncategorized

April Wrap Up

I read 7 books this month, and with everything going on that feels like a HUGE feat. I was on several book tours this month and have been sent tons of books to review in May. I also attended TLA and brought home a ton of ARCs for this year and finished copies of books I am excited to read.

Here is what I read and some brief thoughts for each book

Arlo Finch

  1. Arlo Finch and the Valley of Fire by John August – MG Fantasy
    Read for Lectio Committee, Selected for 2019-2020 school year
    I loved this woodsy fantasy and had so much fun discovering the world that Arlo lives in with him. Would recommend to middle grade boy scouts, fans of camping books, and readers of MG fantasy. 5/5 Stars

    The Secret of Nightingale Wood

  2. The Secret of Nightingale Wood by Lucy Strange – MG Historical Fiction
    This story is set in the early 1900s and a girl is trying to rescue her mother from mental illness and a doctor who is clearly taking advantage of the family. This book was dark and I thought it would have been better played out with an older protagonist and as a YA novel instead of MG. 3 out of 5 stars.


  3. Panic Point by Bill Briscoe – Adult Mystery 
    Read for Lone Star Book Blog Tours 
    Read my review here  

    The Rainwater Secret

  4. The Rainwater Secret by Monica Shaw – Adult Historical Fiction
    Read for Lone Star Book Blog Tours 
    Loved this historical fiction. The review will be up for the tour tomorrow so make sure you come back to find out why this was a 5 star read.


  5. Dumplin by Julie Murphy – YA Contemporary
    This adorable body loving book made me remember all over again what it felt like to be a teenager. Julie Murphy does an excellent job writing all her characters. I have known what it has felt like to be each of them at one point or another. 5 out of 5 stars – Bonus! I met Julie Murphy this month and she is wonderful!!

    The Fountains of Silence

  6.  The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys – YA Historical Fiction
    FAVORITE READ OF THE MONTH – This will more than likely be in my top 10 of 2019. This book sucked me in and told an amazing story. Read my 5 star review here.


  7. Scythe by Neal Schusterman – YA Dystopian/ Science Fiction
    Another amazing 5 star read. This book showcases what would happen if we actually achieved a Utopia type world and the consequences that it could bring. Absolutely recommend to fans of The Hunger Games and other dystopia fans.


What did you read this month? Have you read any of these books? What would you recommend to me since I enjoyed *almost* all of these!

YA Reviews

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys Review

As soon as I picked up this book from this year’s TLA conference I knew I had to read it immediately. I am a huge fan of Sepetys novels. She writes so thoughtfully and you can tell how much research goes into each of her historical fiction novels.

The Fountains of Silence

Title: The Fountains of Silence
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Publishing Date: October 22, 2019
Publishing Company: Philomel Books
Add It: Goodreads
Order It: Amazon


The Fountains of Silence takes place in Madrid, Spain in 1957. In the aftermath of World War II, most European countries are no longer under dictatorship, but Spain is still at the mercy of their ruthless Catholic dictator Francisco Franco. Most of the Red Republicans from the war have been arrested, sentenced to death, or worked in labor camps to death. Their children and relatives are still suffering under Franco’s rule and things aren’t as they seem.

Daniel is recently 18. His dad is an oil tycoon in Texas and expects Daniel to follow suit with a petroleum degree from Texas A&M. Daniel loves photography and wants more than anything to travel the world and photograph the truth. He is applying for a prestigious scholarship to his dream photography program, much to the chagrin of his father who does not believe photography is the right career path for Daniel. Daniel’s mother is a native Spaniard so for Daniel’s last summer between high school and college Daniel’s mother takes them to the new Hilton hotel in Madrid.

The maid assigned to Daniel’s family is Ana who is around Daniel’s age. She is mysterious and beautiful. She is also the daughter of a Republican and lives in extreme poverty with her older sister, a seamstress, and her husband and their daughter as well as her brother who is a gravedigger by day and aspiring bull fighter promoter by night.


This story is told in many alternating points of view which helps us get a good grasp on the mysterious backstory of both Ana and Daniel and their extremely different families. Though Ana and Daniel are the main characters we do get POV from many of their family members and friends in addition to their chapters. Sepetys also gives us snippets of documentation of the history of Spain during this time to help support the historical part of this novel.

Ana and Daniel were both very relateable characters. I was very excited about Daniel’s character in the beginning because he is from a Texas oil family (much like I am) and is suppose to be attending Texas A&M (my alma mater). He also loves photography which is one of my hobbies. I love the way the author would describe his photographs. Even though you couldn’t see them in the book her imagery made you be able to picture what his photographs must look like. Ana is also very relateable even though the majority of the readers of this book probably won’t be living like Ana. She is empathetic, hardworking, smart, courageous, and a typical teen who falls head over heels in love for the wrong boy.

There is so much mystery in the plot of this book sometimes you feel like you have no idea what is going on, but the author does a good job at giving you pieces of the answer to the mystery one at a time. I was on the edge of my seat trying to figure out the final twist in this book until the moment it was revealed. Even though the main twist is heart wrenching, there are also many smaller plot mysteries happening in this book that make you unable to put down this book despite the length.

I 1000% think everyone needs to pick up this book. I will not reveal the historical terror that this book is based upon because it will most likely give away the ending, but this is a piece of history I knew nothing about and don’t think many people do, because even though this happened in the 1950s the documentation of the horrible events in this book did not come about until the 2010s. You need to read this! Seriously, I gave this 5 stars.


TTT – Things that Make Me Pick up a Book

Top Ten Tuesdays are headed up by That Artsy Reader Girl

  1. Covers! I am a total cover buy person. If a book has an intriguing cover I am 1000 times more likely to pick it up even if it isn’t as good as a similar book with better reviews
  2. Blog Reviews – I read just as much about books as I do actual reading of books. If I read a really intriguing review, I will add that book to my TBR and eventually read it.
  3. Recommendation – If a friend, whose reading opinion I trust, recommends a book to me, I will likely pick that book up, if only for the point of having something new to talk about with the friend or family member.
  4. Reading Lists – I am a sucker for checking things off a list. I love reading lists. If you put one out, I will download it and print it, and try to check as many books off of it that I can. I have books full of reading lists and a binder full of printed lists. I love them!
  5. Book Subscription Boxes – It is no secret that I love my Owlcrate and Book of the Month reads. These books are curated by teams who have read more new releases than I have and have picked their top recommendations. I love this! Click here for a free book from Book of the Month and here to try Owlcrate.
  6. Bookstagram – Authors, bookstagram tours work. If I see a billion beautiful pictures of the same book I may just order it or put it on hold at the library just so I can read it. Even if I have no clue what it is about! #BookstagramMadeMeDoIt
  7. Starred Reviews – As a librarian, I know how to look for highly reviewed books on places like Kirkus. I am more likely to pick up novels that have starred reviews from websites like this.
  8. Author’s Name – Chances are, if I have read and enjoyed a book by an author, I will pick up more books by said author.
  9. Topic – I love certain topics in historical fiction including WWII and Tudor England . I usually will at least read the description of the book if I know that the topic falls under these categories.
  10. Price – Often times I will skip over books because they are too expensive or because I have set a spending limit and I cannot get it. Though this is the last on my list it is my more restricting element. My library often does not have a lot of the independent books that I would love to order.
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

Amazon Purchase: Click Here

Saving Money

How To Save Money Buying Books

Sure, you know that Amazon generally beats Barnes & Noble when it comes to giant retailers but how do people on a ramen budget get a kobe beef library? Let me share some of the tricks of the trade with you so you can build your dream library for just a fraction of the cost.


  1. Read All the Books on Your Unread Shelf Before You Buy Anymore Books 
    No really. This is a lesson I am learning HARD right now at 27 years old. I have over 500 books on my TBR shelf. This past December, I purged hard and got rid of about 100 books I had had for over 3 years sitting in my TBR. There is just no need to buy all the books you *think* you might want to read maybe someday. Right now I am only purchasing books I have already read, and don’t own, or that I know I will read this year. I also get Owlcrate and Book of the Month, but I know that these are special editions and I will read them and more than likely love them and keep them. (I get rid of books that I rate 3 stars or less)
  2. Use Your Library
    Okay. So hypothetically you aren’t buying every book you see that you want to read. Use your library to borrow ebooks, audiobooks, and physical books. HELLO YOUR LIBRARY IS FREE!!! Keep a log of some sort like on Goodreads or Bookly to track what you borrow and what you love so that when you are looking for books to buy, you only buy what you have read and loved. This will also keep your bookshelf full of books that you love and want to reread, take bookstagram photos with, or lend to your friends and family (basically, whatever you do with your books you own)
  3. Get Free copies of Books
    DUH BUT HOW?! Enter giveaways, connect with authors and publishers, and utilize services like Netgalley. I have gotten a lot of great books from Goodreads giveaways, instagram giveaways, and through Netgalley. I also get Amazon first reads which is a free ebook once a month and I signed up for Bookbub to get a newsletter which often includes free ebook download links in it daily.
  4. Library Book Sales 
    Check your library for their calendar and find out when they do library book sales. My local library has two big ones a year. Often times I go to their sales on opening day to ensure I get all the books I want and then right before they close because they do a “Fill up a bag for $5” sale on the last day to clean out inventory. Often times these are not just weeded library copies, but includes donated books as well. Sometimes these books are in basically new condition but you can get them for well below the list price.
  5. Thrift Shops and Garage Sales 
    If you have any good thrift shops around make sure you frequent them often for cheap books. In the spring and summer, garage sales and yard sales are hot as people are cleaning out their homes. Sometimes I can get a whole box of books for a couple bucks.
  6. BookOutlet
    Okay I adore BookOutlet. I usually keep a running cart on the website  of books I have read from the library and don’t own, special editions of books I love, and books in series that I am missing. Then when they have a huge sale, I check out. Plus they give you points for your purchases and you can trade points in for giftcards.


Tips from Followers:

“I always go to thrift stores. I have a Savers in my area that every Monday has 50% off.” – Kelsiembookasdi

“Use eBay (found some rare books for CHEAP) and BST [Buy/Sell/Trade on Facebook] Groups” – AgesofAquarius

“For Canadians, Indigo does 30% off all hardcovers on Boxing day every year!” – VallReads

“Only buy the books you really love … or know you’ll love” – To.Read.Is.To.Breathe 

Children's Lit

Favorite Books from My Childhood

All bookworms link the magical feeling of reading to something that sparked their interest in reading at a young age. There are those  magical books that you wish you could read again for the first time and those that make you feel all the warm-fuzzy-nostalgic feels. You see the covers of those books and it takes you back in place to a time and place where you are sitting in your dad’s recliner and smelling your mom’s cooking. You pick it up and you remember exactly where you were when you read it and how it made you feel. 

These are the books from my childhood that bring back that warmth and make me want to be a kid again just so I can reread these for the first time. 

med_res (2)

The Chronicles of Narnia series is one of the first series of books I remember my mom reading to me. Looking at the books reminds me of how my sister and I used to clamber up into her bed and huddle around her while she read. I still remember the soft glow of the lamp beside her bed and the way my parents’ room smelled in our childhood home. I remember the floral comforter my parents had and the pink pajamas I wore. This series really ignited my love for all fantasy books. I always hoped that one day I would open my closet door and discover it had changed into a snowy landscape or an ocean full of adventure.

Little House Series

Back in the day, Scholastic Book Club was the OG subscription box service for kids. We used to sign up for a club at the beginning of each school year and each month we would get a package with a book and some other goodies. In 5th grade my mom signed me up for the Little House Club and I managed to get all of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books and then some. I think each month I got one from the Little House series, a related activity book, and a non series book like her journals and some of the prequels and sequels about her mom, grandmother, and daughter (written by other authors). I still have my original set of books in this series and I remember that red and white box being delivered to my teacher each month and tearing into the goodies that came with it when I got home.


In 4th grade I was obsessed with the Dear America books. I remember loving the diary format. I started keeping my own diary then thinking that one day my thoughts might be important enough to turn into a book (HAHA). The first one I read was The Winter of Red Snow about The Revolutionary War. I still remember exactly where these were in my elementary school library and I still remember reading my favorites and putting them carefully into my backpack as the school day wound down. Someone recently told me that in Canada there was a Dear Canada series that was like the same thing. It blew my mind.

The Boxcar Children

The Boxcar Children was one of those older books that delighted me because the idea of living a life without adults seemed fantastic in some ways. I loved the first and second book enough to reread them several times in my life. The last year I taught 3rd grade, we read this as a class book. I know I read a lot more than the first 2 in this series but I don’t think the mysteries appealed to me as much as the adventure in the first 2 books.

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I saved my favorite for last. I feel like I grew up with Harry Potter in some ways. I read the first book when I first got ahold of it at the end of second grade. It had already gotten a lot of buzz in the book world because it had been published a year before in the UK. By the time my mom had put a hold on it at out library we were 135th in line to get it. When I finally got it in my hands I was so excited. I had heard so much about the magical world contained in the pages. At this time, I wasn’t reading chapter books to myself. My mom would read with me. She looked at the size of the book and told me there was NO WAY she was going to read it out loud to me. I was devastated. But then I was determined. I read Harry Potter to myself. And then with each additional publishing I read those too. I read the first book when I was 7 and the last one came out right after my 16th birthday. I had truly grown up with Harry by my side. 

What childhood books were your favorites? I cannot wait to hear your memories associated with them.



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