Weekly Reviews YA Reviews

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

43263520. sy475
Title: The Grace Year
Author: Kim Liggett
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publishing Date: October 8, 2019
Add on Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
Buy on

WOW! This was a phenomenal story and a phenomenal audio book. In a dystopian world, women are born with magic and during their grace year, are banished from the community into the wilderness to burn it all off. It becomes clear the the main character, Tierney, that this is just a way to keep the women in control and to keep them oppressed, but when she tries to point the truth out to the other girls in her grace year, they turn on her.

Tierney is a wonderful and strong character in the likeness of other strong girls coming out of dystopian literature such as Katniss and Tris. She was relatable and likeable in many ways and imperfect in many ways. I was on the edge of my seat listening to this story, wondering what was going to happen to Tierney and the women in her community.

This is a YA book recommended to ages 14 and up. I definitely recommend it to women who like feminist works, anyone who enjoys dystopian fiction, and those who are fans of The Hunger Games, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Divergent.

subscription boxes

I Tried BookLender and Here’s What Happened

I have been in a reading slump this summer. Majorly. I went from reading 8-12 books a month to 4 in June and 4 in July. I am a teacher. I have the summer off. I should be reading more than my normal during the summer. I just haven’t had much motivation to do much this summer, including the things I love to do. I have been focusing on my husband and my health. Then I found out about Book Lender through Share a Sale. I thought I would apply for their affiliate program and if chosen I would subscribe and see what they had to offer.

Rent Books

Book Lender is exactly what it sounds like. They lend you books, just like a library. There is a small monthly fee which varies depending on how many books you want to borrow. I went for the cheapest option which is 2 books out at a time. The Book Lender website reminds me of Netflix circa 2006. You can browse the books but with really confusing settings and categories, you can search without typos, and you make a Queue like in old school Netflix. The website needs a major face-lift and if I had a business recommendation for book lender I would say they need to start reaching the 20s – 30s crowd which is active on social media. Their instagram page is really sad.

Rent Audiobooks

I decided to make my queue based on my goodreads reading list that wasn’t available at my local library. I went through my to-read list on goodreads, skipping books I own, and then looked on my library’s database. Living in a small town, we don’t have as many options as bigger library networks. I soon found 40 books on my goodreads page that my library did not have that Book Lender DID have. This is a major win. For $7 a month (and my first month was half off) I was able to queue up 40 books that I probably never would have purchased, and didn’t have the option to borrow for free.

Rent Books

I created my queue on a Tuesday and my order was shipped Wednesday. I am not sure where their warehouse is, but I received my books on Friday. This is QUICK for a mail turn around. My two books from my queue came in a plastic mailing sleeve and included a prepaid return sleeve. The books were surprisingly NOT covered like library books are and the wear and tear on them is evident. I am not sure why Book Lender doesn’t cover their books but as a librarian I will say it would help with wear and tear as well as be more sanitary. You can wipe off plastic covers, but not card stock.

Rent Books

The books were just mass market paperback versions of the book which is fine. As you can see from the picture below, they have a book lender sticker on the front. They are also barcoded on the spines for their database I am sure. With the pressure to make the most of my monthly fee, I ended up reading these two books much faster than i have been reading anything else and managed to finish both within 10 days. They went back in the mail this morning, so I will be receiving 2 new books sometime next week hopefully. I am determined to finish a book from home before that turn around.

So here are my Pros and Cons for Subscribing to Book Lender

Convienient book delivery to your mail box
Over 250,000 titles to choose from
Fairly priced
Quick shipping

Lack of a modern website and database
Lack of a social media presence
Books are not in great condition
More expensive than using a library

I would 100% recommend this service to people that do not have a public library or cannot use their public library for whatever reason. I also recommend to people like me who often cannot go browse at their public library, like the convenience of the mail delivery system, or do not have as many options at the library as they would like.

**All links in this post through Share a Sale will provide a monetary payout for me if you purchase from the link**


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

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


a Rafflecopter giveaway


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

   blog tour services provided by

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.
The Shadow Writer Mood Board.png
The Shadow Writer Aesthetic Board

Audio Review
Audio Review
Audio Review
   blog tour services provided by
Lone Star Book Blog Tour Posts Weekly Reviews

The Rainwater Secret – Review

Monica Shaw
Genre: Historical Fiction / Medical Missionaries
Publisher: Self-Published
Date of Publication: March 31, 2017
Number of Pages: 354

Scroll down for the giveaway!

The Rainwater Secret is a deeply moving, historical fiction novel about a woman who travels

to Africa to teach the leper children who were banished from their villages. Single and feeling there is nothing left for her in small-town England, Anna embarks on an adventure as a volunteer teacher with the Medical Missionaries of Mary. Life as Anna has known it is forever changed as she learns the culture that would banish its sick, disfigured, and crippled to the bush. Babies are left to die on roadsides, children are chased away to live by whatever means they can find. The aged are abandoned.

Anna’s daily life is an adventure as she travels from one village to another across a hostile land with few passable roads, rickety bridges threatening to fall apart and casting occupants on the jagged rocks far below, and weather that turns a calm river into a roiling death trap. In spite of the trials, Anna also manages to find love and family in this godforsaken land.

Follow this adventure through disease, weather, strife, death, and determination to turn a few acres of land into a loving home for the outcast lepers of Nigeria.

Monica Shaw is a native of Dallas, Texas where she has been a successful entrepreneur. She attended St. Thomas Aquinas, graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School, and earned her Geology / Petroleum Engineering degree from UT Austin. Her debut novel, The Rainwater Secret, started off as a personal research project looking into the life of her great aunt who became a missionary teacher. Monica is married with 3 children.

 ║Website ║ Facebook LinkedIn Twitter  
║ Instagram Goodreads Amazon Author Page  ————————————-
Choice of Signed Print or eBook Copy!
APRIL 23-May 3, 2019


The Rainwater Secret is a powerful historical fiction novel that reminds us that the world is bigger than ourselves and that we as a humanity need to take care of one another. This story centers around Anna, a young woman in pursuit of a life purpose following World War II. When her beau marries another woman and her mother passes, Anna is left with only her best friend. She is inspired by a young visiting priest’s sermon about taking care of the lepers in Africa. Following her instinct she applies for a position in the leper colony as a teacher. She knows she can bring experience to the people in Africa and teach them to take care of themselves and each other.

Though fictional, Anna is based on the author’s aunt, and is an inspiring and relatable character. The author uses vivid imagery to bring you, the reader, with Anna on her journey through the ups and downs of her life in the African Savannah amongst the wild creatures, the people, and the living conditions. Anna experiences so much loss and heartache that you really become compassionate with how resilient her character is and you end up rooting for her and all her comrades in the leper community.

This book left me wishing for more and I cannot wait to see if this author puts out any other novels. I highly recommend this to fans of historical fiction and those that feel a need to help out their world community. I gave this book a solid 5 out of 5 stars.



Author Video
Bonus Post
Scrapbook Page
Author Interview
Scrapbook Page
Top Six List
   blog tour services provided by


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!

Saving Money

Scholastic Book fair Finds

As posted in the about me, I am a school librarian and one of the busiest times of the year for me is book fair week. This is such a great week for so many reasons and for many of us who grew up in the 90s and 2000s, book fair is full of nostalgia if you loved reading as a kid, but for me, the person in charge it is also EXTREMELY stressful. 99% of my budget for the school year rests on the success of book fair so I spend weeks doing behind the scenes work and talking with our vendor, Scholastic. Setting up requires some muscle and man power, and running the fair takes volunteers, time, and my attention away from the library.

I always end up buying some things for myself, my husband, and our nieces. Even if you don’t have kids yet, you can visit many scholastic book fairs at public libraries throughout the summer and they often have books for adults and teens which may appeal to you more than the picture books and middle grade fiction.

Perhaps the best thing about book fair is finding extremely affordable, brand new books. Often times Scholastic prints books in paperback before the book is released from other publishers in paperback. They also keep their costs low and are able to mass produce so when I compare prices on Amazon, often times Scholastic is even cheaper.

Here is what I found at our fair that I bought for my family:

For fans of Marvel: I picked up Miles Morales and The Black Panther
For Fans of Kasie West: I have managed over the last couple years to get several of her books
For Fans of Victoria Schwab: City of Ghosts in paperback
I grabbed a copy of Mortal engines and Impostors by Scott Westerfeld
If you are a fan of A Dog’s Purpose, the novel is here along with the middle grade side stories

If you are a librarian or school coordinator interested in setting up a Scholastic book fair feel free to contact me at I am NOT associated with scholastic nor do I benefit in anyway to answering your questions, but I love working with Scholastic and I am happy to help other schools and libraries benefit from their reward programs through book fair.

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.
To Be Read

TBR Thursday – The White Queen

This post was inspired by the blog of Kimberly Faye and I am aiming to share more books on my TBR in an attempt to get them moved up further on my read list. I really need to stop checking out library books and just read what I have. I did that website thing where you type in how many books are on your TBR and how long it will take to read them if you only read those and don’t add any more and I’m sitting at about 7 years. YIKES. So let’s see… today I will share this …

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

Series: The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels #2, The Cousin’s War #2
Genres: Historical Fiction, Adult Fiction, Historical Romance
Publication Date: August 18, 2009
Publisher: Atria Books
Add It: Goodreads
Buy It: Amazon

Days on TBR: 2745 Days

Synopsis From Goodreads

Brother turns on brother to win the ultimate prize, the throne of England, in this dazzling account of the wars of the Plantagenets. They are the claimants and kings who ruled England before the Tudors, and now Philippa Gregory brings them to life through the dramatic and intimate stories of the secret players: the indomitable women, starting with Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen.

The White Queen tells the story of a woman of extraordinary beauty and ambition who, catching the eye of the newly crowned boy king, marries him in secret and ascends to royalty. While Elizabeth rises to the demands of her exalted position and fights for the success of her family, her two sons become central figures in a mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the missing princes in the Tower of London whose fate is still unknown. From her uniquely qualified perspective, Philippa Gregory explores this most famous unsolved mystery of English history, informed by impeccable research and framed by her inimitable storytelling skills.

With The White Queen, Philippa Gregory brings the artistry and intellect of a master writer and storyteller to a new era in history and begins what is sure to be another bestselling classic series from this beloved author.

This book has been on my TBR since 2011… YIKES! Share a book below in the comments that is on your TBR shelf.