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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.

REVIEW

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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.

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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.

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bookstagram Weekly Reviews

#BookaDay Day 2 – May 31 – When You Ask Me Where I’m Going

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When I picked this up on May 31, I was already most of the way through this collection as I had started it in February and had slowly been making my way through it.

Jasmin Kaur has a beautiful way with words and art to make this amazing collection of poems and prose. There were a lot of poems I bookmarked because they had such a deep meaning to me and I understood them so well because of things I had personally experienced.

Throughout this book Jasmin explores what it means to be a young woman in today’s society and what it means to be a minority woman in today’s society. Her points of view are powerful and meaningful. I think there is something in this collection that will speak to every young woman who reads this.

I gave this book 5/5 stars because I know I will pick this up again and find something new to love about it. This is definitely a collection for adults, anyone who has enjoyed collections such as The Princess Will Save Herself in This One, and The Sun and Her Flowers.

You can order this collection from Amazon in Paperback for $9.99 or from Bookshop.org for $10.11 (10% goes back to support Indie bookstores). Both links give me a little kickback which I use to add books to our school library!

This is the bookmark that I designed based on this book. Preorders are open on my website.
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Children's Lit

New Book Mail – Sourcebooks

Thank you to Sourcebooks for sending me mail!

Once More Upon a Time is 130 pages, adult fantasy romance, and will be released in hardback on October 5, 2021

PreOrder Link for $13.79: https://bookshop.org/a/9858/9781728239828

I’m Not Dying with You Tonight is YA, 242 pages, is currently out in Hardback ( https://bookshop.org/a/9858/9781492678892 ) and will be released in paperback on September 7, 2021 for $10.11
Preorder the Paperback: https://bookshop.org/a/9858/9781728240237

Beaver and Otter Get Along… Sort Of is a Non Fiction picture book for ages 4+ which releases September 7th in hardcover and paperback simultaneously
PreOrder the Paperback ($8.27) : https://bookshop.org/a/9858/9781728232256
PreOrder the Hardcover ($15.62): https://bookshop.org/a/9858/9781728232249

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Weekly Reviews YA Reviews

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

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Title: The Grace Year
Author: Kim Liggett
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publishing Date: October 8, 2019
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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.

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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

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

Cons:
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**

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bookstagram

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 ( https://twitter.com/readathin?lang=en )

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.

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Lone Star Book Blog Tour Posts

When the Men Were Gone Blog Tour – Review

WHEN THE MEN WERE GONE by MARJORIE HERRERA LEWIS

 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.

PRAISE FOR WHEN THE MEN WERE GONE:

“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

CLICK TO PURCHASE

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 PressBoxDFW.com. 

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.

WEBSITE    FACEBOOK   TWITTER 

INSTAGRAM   YOUTUBE

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE   BOOKBUB

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THREE SIGNED COPIES OF WHEN THE MEN WERE GONE

June 18-28, 2019

(International)

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CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

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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Lone Star Book Blog Tour Posts

The Shadow Writer by Eliza Maxwell – Review

THE SHADOW WRITER
by
ELIZA MAXWELL
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.

CLICK TO PURCHASE

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.
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TWO WINNERS: Signed Copy + $25 Amazon Gift Card
ONE WINNER: Signed Copy 
APRIL 30-MAY 10, 2019
(U.S. Only)
Review
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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