12 Oct

What We’re Reading Now — October 2018

Around the middle of each month, I share what everyone in my family is currently reading. We range in age from 9 to 40+ with a varied mix of interests.  Honestly, I love making these lists and have done this in the past just for myself because I feel that the books we are reading gives me a great snapshot of our personalities, our season of life, our interests, and more. Each month’s book list is a time capsule of my family’s life! Please share in the comments what is being read at your house this month, too. I bet you’ll be surprised how much it reveals about each individual! 

To learn more about each book, you can either click on the book title or the book image. {This post includes Amazon affiliate links.}



The Husband


My husband had a business trip this week which is typically the only time he squeezes in much reading.  He primarily reads e-books, and this week’s reads reflect his typical book fare: 3 Louis L’Amour westerns and the beginning of one business book.






I definitely read the most books per month at my house! I have a little more extra time since I am not working full-time nor going to school, and I read FAST.  You can always see what I am reading in the Goodreads section of my sidebar, but here’s some more info about the reading I have done in the last couple weeks. I recently finished two middle-grade novels that I highly recommend!  REFUGEE by Alan Gratz is heart wrenching and powerful.  The School Library Journal recommends it for grades 5-7, but based on the subject matter and the way I bawled my eyes out, I would probably not hand it to my 9-year-old.  I would, however, suggest that my 8th grader read it, for sure! On the other hand, FRONT DESK by Kelly Yang is a great read for younger school kids (3rd or 4th grade and above) and should be read by everyone.  It has themes of friendship, perseverance, hard work, community, immigration, bullying, and more.  So glad I picked this one up at the school book fair!


I am also about halfway through WIVES AND DAUGHTERS by Elizabeth Gaskell, 1/3 of the way done with GIRL, WASH YOUR FACE by Rachel Hollis, and just finished PROMISES AND PRIMROSES by Josi S. Kilpack.


The Senior


My oldest son is taking a heavy load of honors classes, working part-time, and, in his spare time, he is typically either doing some freelance graphic design work or watching something like “Sherlock” on Netflix.  Pretty much 100% of his reading these days is just for school. For his English Lit class he recently read–and somewhat enjoyed– THE CRUCIBLE by Arthur Miller and THE CATCHER IN THE RYE by J.D. Salinger.


YA Romance Girl


My 15-year-old daughter is a huge fan of clean, contemporary YA romances, and she really enjoyed McCall Hoyle’s newest book, MEET THE SKY. She especially enjoyed that it was a quick, light read. In school, “Romance Girl” just finished FAHRENHEIT 451 and surprised herself by liking it quite a bit.  And just today, she picked up one of my library books and started reading it.  It is book 3, TRICKED, in the Fairy Tale Reform School series by Jen Calonita.





Fantasy Fiction Guy


My middle child is a 13-year-old boy who loves action-packed fantasies. He devoured my advance copy of WRATH OF THE DRAGON KING, the 2nd book in the new DragonWatch series by Brandon Mull (part of the Fablehaven world).  Don’t worry, fans!  If you are anxiously awaiting this one, it comes out in just a couple more weeks! Another new book which I passed to him to read when I was done with it–and that he LOVED– is a middle grade novel called SQUINT (I will be posting a whole review here about that one in just a couple more days!).




The Other Bookworm


My youngest daughter (a 6th-grader) spent the first half of October flying through the entire Land of Stories series.  She would check out one at the school library, read it that day, and anxiously wait to get to school and check out the next one. “Bookworm” also read the first two books in the Story Thieves series. Today she started reading THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON, an award-winning book by Kelly Barnhill.


Adventure Boy


Last, but not least, the caboose of the family.  He is an active 4th-grade boy who loves running, competitive games (as long as he’s winning), and school.  When he was younger, I worried that I would never be able to get him to read on his own.  He was capable but just not that interested.  He still doesn’t have as deep a love for reading, but once I started buying him biographies and letting him read DIARY OF A WIMPY KID books, he had found that reading can be enjoyable.  Every week I volunteer at his elementary school library during the time his class is there, and I love to see the books he chooses.  He’s very predictable!  This month he has read a couple of Hardy Boys mysteries and some Geronimo Stilton books.  He is really into mysteries and adventures!



A couple more thoughts:

–We started doing a family read-aloud of Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan last month…we have not made it very far but I am going to persevere.  And I am working on a whole blog post about reading aloud when you have older kids and busy schedules.

–October is the month when I start thinking about Christmas gifts.  My children always get some new books for Christmas.  Based on what our family is reading this month, if you have any recommendations for what you think they might enjoy that I could gift to them, please share!


4 Oct

5 Resources to Enrich Your Reading Life

There are days (weeks…seasons) where I get bored with my reading life.  I need to give it a jump-start and bring it back to life.  If you have ever felt this way, you’re in luck! I have brought together FIVE different resources which will enrich your reading life and get you excited again about cracking open your next book.

1.  Reading groups and reading challenges

Sometimes, when I’m in a reading slump, all that’s needed to boost me out of it is a FOCUS.  This is where having a reading challenge with a theme or a reading group (i.e. book club) with a deadline for reading a book can be incredibly helpful. The Internet is overflowing with various book-related challenges and groups but here are a few I enjoy or have found intriguing.  I haven’t personally tried them all, so please share your thoughts on those that you have used!



  • A great resource for families striving to enjoy books together, Sarah Mackenzie’s Read-Aloud Revival Premium Membership   is especially popular with homeschooling mamas, but any parent will find much to love–from online author events to booklists and monthly book clubs for both the whole family and parents, this is a bargain at only $15/mo.
  • Every year during the week of Columbus Day (October 7-13, 2018), the Young Adult Library Services Association has an initiative called Teen Read Week. Schools and public libraries can participate and host events especially for teens.  Teens can vote on a list of 25 nominated YA books to create a Top 10 list and contact their libraries to encourage them to participate in the initiative. This year’s theme, “It’s Written in the Stars: READ”, is meant to encourage students to try out some more scifi and fantasy.

Teen Read Week

  • Like many of you, I have fallen in love with everything Anne Bogel  (aka, Modern Mrs. Darcy) puts out into the universe.  Unlike many of you, I just discovered Anne’s website this summer! On the website you can find a free Reading Challenge each year, and you can also participate in the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club for $10/mo.
  • I enjoy using my Goodreads app to track my reading and some years I even set reading goals for myself which gives me a focus.  There are also many different reading groups available in the app where you can connect with fellow bibliophiles who have similar tastes.
  • Find a local book club!  Or start your own! I know this option can seem intimidating– even if you are an extrovert, but when you find a great book club that meets in person, it can be truly exciting.  I was blessed that when I moved from Arizona to Indiana this summer, one of the first announcements I heard at church was for a local book club, and it has been a good fit for me! The American Library Association has a great list of ways to find book clubs and reading groups in your area.

    group of friends hanging out
    Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com
  • For more ideas, check out this epic list of DIY reading challenges  !

2. Libraries

Best quotes about libraries and librarians: When in doubt go to the library. - J.K. Rowling

My local library is my safe haven, my sanctuary, my happy place.  It is also the home of much of my book inspiration.  In fact, outside of Instagram (another one of my great loves), the library is the place I go to find new books and push myself out of a reading funk. While I love using the holds feature at the library when there are specific titles I want to pick up, I almost always spend time just browsing because I have found many a treasure while strolling the stacks.

Here are three areas of the libary where I go mining for book bounty:

  1. New books section— When I go through those library doors and enter the hushed, air-conditioned interior, I usually make a beeline for this section. I take a glance at the titles in all different genres, even ones I don’t usually read.  I enjoy the gorgeous book covers, read the blurbs, note the names of authors, and even when I don’t put one of the books in my tote bag, I often add some of them to the TBR (To Be Read) section of my Goodreads, so I can come back to them later.
  2. Book Displays— My heart goes pitter-patter when I see beautiful book displays at libraries (and honestly, some libraries could really use some work in this area). There are libraries that have whole shelves with books facing out, and each month the shelves have a different theme.  My home library in Arizona has a section like this and I adore it. Quite a few libraries display books on the top of their shorter shelving units especially in the children’s section.  Despite the old adage to not judge a book by its cover, I think it’s safe to say that we all do, and it’s nice to walk past the displays and see what catches my eye.
  3. Library book lists— I don’t use this one as often but when I was a younger mom I especially looked for these in the children’s section.  Many libraries will put together suggested book lists for different age groups (“Great Books for 5th Graders”) or interests (“If You Loved XYZ, You’ll Love These”)  and put them in stacks or displays at the circulation desks. If all else fails, ask a librarian for her favorite latest read.

3. Buddy reads

I came across the concept of buddy reads when I started hanging around “bookstagram” (the book-loving sub-community on Instagram) regularly.  It may sound like a book club where a group of people are all reading the same book, but typically a buddy read is more structured than that.  Two or more people agree on a book (I find buddy reads especially helpful for big classic novels that may be intimidating otherwise).  Everyone agrees on various points in the book to take a break and discuss with each other.  This can be done in an online forum in Goodreads or Instagram.  Or, if done with someone you know really well, it could be done over the phone (talking or text) or even, occasionally, face to face.  The point is that you pace yourself through the book knowing that you have someone counting on you to get to the next stopping place so you can both chat.  If you still have questions, I found these definitions to be helpful.

kids sitting on green grass field
Photo by Victoria Borodinova on Pexels.com

4. Author events at bookstores

book signing
That’s me in the orange cardigan with YA authors, Kate Watson and Abigail Johnson

Readers may have a reputation for being introverts–although, I am not–but so many of us love to get together with fellow readers for bookish stuff, and author events have a great energy about them.  It’s exciting to meet an author.  It’s exciting to hear him or her discuss their life, the ideas behind their writing, and more.  And, it’s exhilarating to buy a brand-new, just-launched-that-day book and get it signed by the person who put it out into the world.  Authors are cool people! I love finding little, indie bookshops (sadly, I don’t have any in my new hometown) and supporting their events.  If you have a bookstore close to your home, check out their calendar and take a much-needed breather from life to attend a book launch or other fun occasion.


5. Podcasts

Can you believe I just discovered the wonder and joy of podcasts?! Because I struggle with audiobooks (I know! I know! Don’t hate me!), I thought I wouldn’t enjoy podcasts.  I am decidedly NOT an auditory learner and this really turned me off to the idea for a long time.  Finally, I took a leap of faith, and I love it.  I still don’t listen to them a ton.  I do best on a long drive when I am the only one in the car or when I am doing something like folding laundry and I’m not in a rush to get somewhere else.  I enjoy a few non-literary podcasts, but I also adore Anne Bogel’s What Should I Read Next? episodes and find all sorts of literary inspiration every time I listen.  I love the variety of guests and their reading tastes.  I am still hunting for more great book-themed podcasts so PLEASE share suggestions with me in the comments, if you have any!

Of course, sometimes the best thing you can do is ignore all the good suggestions–even mine–and trust your instincts.

There have been plenty of times when the ideas above have been amazingly good for me.  And there have been other times when I just needed to take a breather, get rid of the pressure, and sit down in a cozy chair with an old favorite book and get lost in the story.

Wherever you are in your reading journey, enjoy!

{And please share your favorite reading ideas with me in the comments!}


1 Oct

Christmas by Accident

I know, I know! I just barely posted my book picks for October, and it isn’t even Halloween, but yes–I am sharing this fun Christmas read with you.

Christmas by Accident is written by award-winning author, Camron Wright, (well-known for some of his other books like The Rent Collector and The Orphan Keeper). If you have read Wright’s other books with their poignant plots, you need to know going into this book, that they are completely different.  Christmas by Accident is a delightful, light read that I classify as a “romantic spoof”. The story introduces us to Carter, an insurance adjuster with a flair for expression (and metaphors)  who meets Abby, owner/manager of the ReadMore Cafe, through a series of events reminiscent of my favorite Hallmark Channel movies. Abby’s Uncle Mannie is trying to hide the fact that he is dying, Carter is trying to figure out his life, and Abby is the sweet girl-next-door who gets caught up in it all.  There is a fun cast of side characters, and the ReadMore Cafe is the type of place I would love to be able to visit in real life.

While the story is wonderfully cheesy in a knowing, tongue-in-cheek kind of way, it also has a sweet ending, and I couldn’t help but smile through the whole read.  I was cheering on Carter in his quest to discover himself, rooting for the romance, and even feeling weepy over Uncle Mannie.  If you love a good Christmas miracle, this is the book for you.  You will close the book with a sense of hope…and probably a strong desire for some peppermint hot chocolate.

So, put on your pajamas, grab your coziest blanket, and get lost in a quick and joyful escape.


P.S.  There’s a fun game in the story played by the employees at the ReadMore Cafe, and you can join in the fun.  Head here to play Rename Jane!

29 Sep

October Book Picks: From Cozy to Creepy — 25 Books for All Ages

Each month I aim to bring you my book picks for that particular time of the year, the books that match my mood and/or the themes for those particular weeks on the calendar.  My roundup will always consist of 25+ books across ages to help you find some book inspiration for everyone in your home.

October, for me, is the month of cozy blankets on the couch, changing colors on the trees, a crisp bite to the air, classic mysteries, and a little bit of creepiness–but not too much ’cause I’m a wimp when it comes to scary and gory stuff.

For the younger crowd, I have picked out board books and picture books that tie into specific themes: pumpkins, the fall season, colors, leaves changing, owls and spiders and bats, farms and scarecrows, Halloween, space (Astronomy Day is October 13), and firefighters (many preschools across the United States will be celebrating Fire Prevention Week October 7-13).

For the middle grade ages, there are five books that were chosen either because they fit my mood for October (best described as “exploration/fantasy/mystery”) or because they address the issue of bullying in some way.  [October 1st is World Day of Bullying Prevention.]

Lastly, I focused on a mix of both cozy and serious reads for the teens and adults.  October seems to be my month to swing between the two as I sometimes want to read a light YA contemporary romance and other times want to tackle some deep nonfiction or an old classic novel.  Most of the reads listed in the Adult category can also be enjoyed by the teenagers you know.

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on my book picks and what you would add to the list!  What kinds of books are you curling up with in the fall?

And, finally–here are the lists below! Feel free to click on the individual titles to learn more about each book (these are affiliate links to Amazon).  Also, if you would like a printable PDF of the list to take with you to the library or your favorite indie bookstore, subscribe to my blog in the sidebar, and I will send you the list within a couple business days!  Happy reading!!