Heads Up- Audible Sale

Of course this post will include affiliate links. I’ll take my 4 cents out of every five dollars you spend as a finders fee for scrolling through all these sale books.The sale started this morning and ends on the 31st at Midnight.

Declan just finished listening to this. Blasted Amazon- I used a whole credit on this baby. It was worth it, but had I known it was going on sale a couple weeks later I would have waited. This series is a great listen for teens (and their parents). Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman
I used this with my daughter when she studied the ancients in high school. We got it through our library, but now for $5 I’m all in as a purchaser. I enjoy Professor Fagan’s humor and as a part of a full Ancients year these lectures were super helpful in showing us what life was really like in Ancient Rome. The History of Ancient Rome by The Great Courses.
Here’s another lecture series we used in High School. If you are using either Sonlight core 100 or Bookshark level 100 this ties in pretty easily to your syllabus. I liked that this series has a bunch of professors so you get a variety of opinions from experts in each time period. The History of the US 2nd edition by The Great Courses.
This book was so cool, and although I own it, Declan prefers to listen to books. The author decided to recreate an Oregon Trail journey. For those adults amongst us who remember The Oregon Trail through the lense of our first video game, this is gold. If you enjoy Bill Bryson this ones for you. I’m going to buy it and use it when we cycle back into American History again. The Oregon Trail by Rinker Buck
How about some YA Japanese mythology/fantasy/fairy tale reading? I read this an an ARC and after getting used to the flowery language, I enjoyed this adventure. Owlcrate had it as their monthly selection too so that’s two endorsements for you. Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagaw
This is Michael Crichton’s Beowulf. That’s all you need to know. Obviously for teens and grown up listeners. I’m planning on listening to this right after we read Beowulf and we’ll do a compare/contrast type analysis. I can’t wait! Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton
What a treasure trove of great audio this turned out to be! I read this book with my older boys when they were in high school. What an eye opener. You’ll never read a history book the same way after this. I liked it more than Guns, Germs, and Steel. 1491 by Charles C. Mann
A first hand fireside type accounting of when cultures clash in Oklahoma. I haven’t read or listened to this one. The reviews look great and for $5 I’m sure we’ll learn enough about the other side of American history to make it worthwhile. Empire of the Summer Moon by SC Gwynne
And finally, I’d get myself kicked out of the homeschool club if I didn’t include this book. It’s long and wordy in all the best ways. It worked better as an audio book for my high schoolers of the past so I’m recommending it having paid full price. A whole year of high school Ancient History for $5, you can’t go wrong. The Well Trained Mind even has Parent and Student pages you can buy to go with it. The History of the Ancient World by Susan Wise Bauer
book review MG fiction

The Doughnut King: ARC Review

Doughnuts and a city kid transformed from a transplant into a small town defender in one seamless story. What more could you ask for in a sequel? You don’t need to read The Doughnut Fix (a 2018 Cybils finalist!) to enjoy this story, but I think you should. Kids of all ages will giggle and laugh their way through The Doughnut King. They will also crave doughnuts, spiced butter tea, and cupcakes. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

We bought these before we knew we could be creating them ourselves.

This story picks up right where the Doughnut Fix leaves off. The doughnut business is a huge success and as great as that is, its hard to keep up with demand. Josh and Tristan rack their brains to figure out what they can do to keep up with their orders. On top of that, Tris knows his parents are struggling financially and the town is too. It is a lot for a couple of kids to handle. Tris ends up entering one of those kids cooking show contests in the hopes that winning will solve all their issues.

Things I loved:

  • All the descriptions of New York and food. Tris knows New York like we know Chicago. Our trips always center around what foods are in that neighborhood and how we can sneak them into our day.
  • The honest way that Jessie writes about Tris and his anxiety. Lots of kids have anxiety and reading about someone else helps.
  • All the family dynamics and how real they are.
  • The fact that there is a doughnut robot in real life. (We had to google to see if it looked like an actual robot)
  • I’m a champion of out of print books but, I’ve got to say how fun it is to read a book so current that I had to show the text emoji’s while reading aloud. There is something sort of great about a book that is clearly set “right now” in time.
We made these!!

This book and its predecessor make great family read alouds. They also inspire baking. Two thumbs up from our house. We’re hoping for a third book!

Pre-order The Doughnut King by Jessie Janowitz before the publication in May 2019.

book review children fiction picture book

Mary Wears What She Wants: A Book Review

This picture book biography took me by surprise. I mean that even though the author graciously offered me a review copy, I wasn’t expecting to be so blown away by a picture book! I’ll admit to being pretty excited about the author offering to inscribe it to my own daughter, also named Mary, who has a long history of being opinionated about gender neutral clothing.

Mary Edward Walker born in 1832 was a woman who what she wanted and what she didn’t want. Her independence went far beyond clothing as she graduated from medical school in 1855 and then went on to volunteer in the army during the Civil War.

However, it all started with pants. Mary didn’t want to wear dresses all the time. As you can imagine, people in her community were shocked. The 4-8 year old set will probably be amazed that this was ever the social norm.

The artwork is spectacular and even in this short book kids get a real sense of what Mary was like in person.

Mary Wears What She Wants by Keith Negley

book review YA fiction

Life As We Knew It: Book Review

I should call this a book venting. Before anyone freaks out on me. I’m not trying to be mean, I read the entire book and enjoyed it. Only it was just one of those books where in the end I wish it had been scientifically accurate. The ways people reacted to the events were true to form. The science, however, was shaky at best.

Let me share some notes I highlighted while reading. I’m going to reveal basic plot points, so if you want to be spoiler free just go read it yourself. It’s on Amazon Kindle Unlimited now- Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer.

Very early on at the 4% mark, I started telling my family about this book.
“I don’t know what kind of book this is yet, but the moon is about to get hit by an asteroid and everyone on Earth is excited and happy about it,” I said.

That doesn’t seem right. I’m no astrophysicist but it seems to me that the reaction should be closer to the one in the movies Armageddon or Deep Impact.

But, hey, a benefit of the doubt, this could be a dystopian world. Maybe it is not actually our Earth, and there is no need to panic cause we have a Space Force or something.

Nope. There was every need to panic, and all the astronomers in this fictional universe should be ashamed. I mean, no one caught on? Not even a dorky guy with a lot of papers full of evidence? How about a high school teacher whom everyone thought was nuts? He could have driven all the way to DC to meet up with barely disguised fictional President Bush and shouted the alarm.

Anyhow, totally sucked in, and by the time they were all outside at their viewing parties I was chomping at the bit for some chunks of the moon to head our way.

We didn’t get chunks, but we got a much larger closer moon. Which as you may know is not great for the tides. The planet goes berserk. There are tsunamis, volcanoes, storms, and the inevitable flu epidemic and by the time the story is over I was hoping for werewolves. There was also malaria? In Pennsylvania? Hmmm. They get storms and eventually ash from volcanoes far away which is plausible.

The entire thing is in diary form and everydayness is one of the things I liked about it. The world doesn’t end with a bang it goes out with a whimper. Starving to death takes a long time when you’ve got some food. The family dynamics seemed true to real life and the ending although well timed is also in the realm of possibility.

The author seems pretty anti-organized religion and I didn’t like that the only religious figure in the book was a nutcase. I’m guessing that statistically there would be plenty of normal people praying about this situation.

This book will make you want to stock up on canned goods the same way that Dry made me want to bury a water tank in the yard.

I stayed up very late finishing it in hopes of something finally happening or some kind of a twist ending and I’m going to need to stew a bit more before I decide if I’m reading books 2 and 3!!

book review Chicago

Ronan Boyle and the Bridge of Riddles (Ronan Boyle #1)

This book is my brand, my spirit animal, my current fave among 2019 releases. It pushes all the buttons on what I look for in a read aloud. Plus, it is a perfect read aloud for this St. Patrick’s Day week! Ronan Boyle, a smallish kid, lives in Ireland. His parents are in prison for a crime that they didn’t commit, and he is basically on his own. At fourteen he is the youngest recruit in the secret Garda, an Irish police force that handles the misdeeds of numerous magical creatures. Let that sink in. Magical creatures are so real that humans have a secret army to control them. Squee! In the telling of this original tale, we get introduced to Leprechauns, Trolls, Unicorns, The Land of Tir Na Nog and all the rules governing these creatures (and more). Some of it seems glaringly obvious, like the fact that of course, leprechauns would have long fancy names.
Other tidbits made sense but didn’t occur to me. (Trolls can eat bad children if they have caused- seems legit)Ronan himself is a delight and takes all of this news in and manages to thrive at work. You’ve never seen me happier to see a (#1 designation in a title) I can’t wait to see what Ronan, his parents, and coworkers are up to next. 

Ronan Boyle and the Bridge of Riddles by Thomas Lennon

March 5, 2019

book review MG fiction

Sal and Gabi Break the Universe (A Sal and Gabi Novel, Book 1)

I was super psyched to get an early read of yet another book from the new Rick Riordan Presents Imprint Series. This story is a little different than most of the mythology-based storylines that I’ve come to expect from this publisher. It’s Snark, Science, and Spanglish- that’s how I sold it to my own 13 yo kid. I loved it so much that I talked him into reading my Kindle copy. I mean I was reading funny parts aloud at the table, in the car waiting for his brother, really everywhere cause once I started reading it, I didn’t want it to end while still powering through getting closer to the end. It’s that way with all great books though. My favorite quote: “Sometimes, when it’s too hard when it hurts too much, only silliness can save us.”So, true. In this novel, Sal and Gabi deal with some substantial, real-life issues and handle it like the most polite well-mannered thirteen years I’ve ever read about. Sal lost his Mom and has diabetes and Gabi’s little brother is very ill. Not to mention the fact that Sal accidentally broke the universe. This is one of those rare books that straddle the MG category. I think eight through thirteen-year-old kids will all get something out of this storyline. Even older since I’m buying it for a possible re-read and because we’re going to want to own the series. We also need to eat more Cuban food- just saying. Also, homeschoolers: you need to explain that this is a fictional school cause it sounds fantastic. Please note that I received a free advance E ARC of this book from NetGalley without a review requirement or any influence regarding review content should I choose to post a review. Apart from that, I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book. Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos HernandezMarch 5, 2019