What Book Made You Fall in Love with Reading?

Goodreads posed the question:

What book made you fall in love with reading?

For me it was was in different stages. 
    In elementary it was Amelia Bedelia. >Visit Here<
    In middle school it was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. It was the first time I realized that movies changed endings. I was both proud and devastated.  >Visit Here<
    #thestrugglewasreal in junior high. Sports were introduced and I figured out I could run {like Forest}.
    In high school it was the short story Desiree's Baby by Kate Chopin. It is still one of my all time favorite short stories. >Read Here<
    In college I only read what I had too. Those were very dark times... 
Listopia on GoodReads has a great list of
The Must-Have Series for Children Ages 6 to 12.

I polled all the little middle-grade readers running through my house this summer and these are the top 5 they recommend. Check out Listopia's list >HERE< for a huge variety of middle-grade series. The list is for the must-have series in a library that children ages 6 - 12 can read for themselves.
  1. Diary of a Whimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
  2. Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
  3. Jason Strange books
  4. I Survived by Lauren Tarshis
  5. Warriors by Erin Hunter

Penguin Problems by Jory John

Have you ever considered running away to Antarctica? Of course you have! Because it’s a land free of worries and responsibilities! All of your problems will surely be blown away by the icy winds of that lawless paradise! . . . Won’t they?

Think again, my friend. This penguin has come to tell you that his life down there is no more a picnic than yours is here. For starters, it is FREEZING. Also, penguins have a ton of natural predators. Plus, can you imagine trying to find your mom in a big ol’ crowd of identical penguins? No, thank you.

Yes, it seems there is no escaping the drudgery of your daily grind, whatever it might be. Or perhaps we’ve just learned that grumps are everywhere. . . .

Release Date: September 2016
Age Group: Children
Source: Publisher
Reviewed By: Nat

"Everybody's got problems, good luck with yours." 
Bernie Packard 
This is a common quote that is repeated in our small town. It just cracks me up every time I hear it because it always reminds me of all the Negative Nancy's I meet. You know the person that always has to bring up the negative side of ANY situation. Every family has one. Currently in our house, it is #Hurricane, our middle child. 

He is our Penguin.

I sat both my boys down to read #penguinproblems to them and use my best disgruntled voice possible, I was really determined to get the point of this book across. My 5 year old ate it up and made little comments about how unhappy the Penguin was while #Hurricane laid there silent, on his face. #palmtoface

Midway through he turned over and hid his grin after I said we were reading a book about him. I told him we were changing his nickname to penguin, he frowned but kept listening.

After the book was over our conversation went like this:

Me: So, what was up with that Penguin? Did he learn anything?

5 year old: yea, I think.

Hurricane: He learned to be grateful for the things he has.
*Me thinking "Ah, so he did get the plot"

Me: So what are you grateful for?

5 year old: Hockey, yea hockey is on ice. I loooove it so much. 
*He has never seen a hockey puck in his life.

Me: okay, cool. Hurricane what about you?

Hurricane: Nothing. 

Me: What?! Nothing? Really?

Hurricane: Nope, nothing.

Me: Huh.

Hurricane: Fine, I am grateful for our house and all the other stuff I'm supposed to say. I learned to not argue and be happy mom, I just didn't want to say it right now.

Me: *internally screams and shoots daggers toward child. That's nice.

Penguin Problems is a great children's book for teaching young readers to see the good in their life instead of all the negative, because lets face it, life is SO unfair when you are 8 or younger. The text has the droll yet funny personality of a complainer with illustrations to match.  It is really easy to manipulate for reading aloud and just the right length to keep small children's attention.

I highly recommend this book for elementary teachers. There are so many areas that this book could cover: feelings, being different but yet the same, manners, animals in the arctic, predators, even technology. There is a hashtag that is attached to this book: #penguinproblems. It would be really fun to create an activity off of that, I mean I know I would eat it up but I'm odd. Any avenue to introduce technology to kids is a win in my book. #punintended

This is also a great book to gift. I will be purchasing several copies of this book when the holiday season hits! 

A special thank you to Random House for sending me this advanced reader wrapped in the cutest book bag ever! We have been sporting it to the library for the summer reading program. I have convinced my kids that when they walk in with the bag, people probably whisper how jealous they are of our penguin. Then I tell them, remember, everybody's got problems... but a sweet book bag isn't one of ours!

The Dino Files: A Mysterious Egg (#1) by Stacy McAnulty

Summary: Frank’s grandma is a famous paleontologist (that’s a dinosaur scientist). But she’s also an adult who makes up rules. Rules like: no digging for dinosaur bones when you have a sunburn. That means Frank is stuck playing inside with his annoying cousin, Samantha. But then Grandma finds a fossil of an egg! And when Frank and Sam sneak into the dino lab late at night, they find something even more amazing. . . .

The hilarious Dino Files chapter book series follows a nine-year-old dinosaur expert, his paleontologist grandparents, a cat named Saurus, and fossils that might not be so extinct!

Release Date: January 2016
Age Group: Middle Grade
Source: Publisher
Reviewed By: Macy Kate

1. Who are the main characters? Did you have a favorite and why?
The main characters are Frank, Sam, Peanut and Saurus. My favorite character was Saurus because he was lazy and fat and looked cuddly. I love cuddly! 

2. What is the story setting?
The story is set at a dinosaur dig site, a museum and also at Aaron's barn. 

3. What was one main event?
One main event was when peanut went missing! I was so sad and scared that he had been kidnapped (no spoilers though).

4. What didn't you like?
I enjoyed every bit of this book! Really.

5. Was the book easy to follow (understand)?
The book was very, very easy to follow.

6.  What is your overall opinion of the series? Will you continue?
This series is awesome and I really want read the next book, Too Big to Hide.

Note from Nat:
Overall, this is a great middle grade series for: 
  • Hesitant readers. The writing style is really easy to follow and comprehend.
  • Both girls & boys.
  • Animal lovers.
  • Future scientists.
  • Little sleuth's.
This is a series that is fresh and just beginning to roll out and will give young readers something to look forward too and begin to develop those feelings of anticipation (and sometimes distress :). It is best to start them young and really develop these intense book habits-- really it's good for our society.
 image source: goodreads.com

2016 Summer Book to Movie Adaptations

Summer is here and the heat is on here in Texas. Usually by 10am we have hit at least 84 degrees. My favorite retreat is the theater because when I step outside at noon I have flashes of the Wicked Witch screaming "I'm Melting, I'm Melting!" And then it leads me to thoughts of wanting to watch Wicked... the heat really affects my thought process. 

Here are my top 5 anticipated book to movie adaptations this summer. 

Me Before You: Now Playing
Just bring tissues and chocolate.

Pete's Dragon: August 12th.
Not an adaptation but it is just pure nostalgia for me. My kids are not as nearly excited as I am because they haven't seen the original Disney film. #Iwillrectifythewrong

The Legend of Tarzan: July 1st
Tarzan is one of those characters that has been adapted in some form for the last 100 years. My grandma talks about the first Tarzan film and I loved the Disney cartoon.  He is just so barbaric!

BFG: July 1st
Who in there right mind isn't freaking excited about BFG!? Anything Rohald Dahl inspired has my attention. Middle grade readers should be really interested in this adaptation (and all mom's who have read all the Dahl books > #thisgirlrighthere <).

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children: September 30th
Shout out to my hair lady woman goddess stylist Morgan! She has been talking this series up for the last year. Naturally, I should have read these already but what can I say, I'm a rebel. This series is next up! It has such a weird vibe to it, I can hardly wait!

Bookmark Round-Up

Summer is here and I plan to read it away! Who doesn't like a good bookmark? Here is my round-up of fun bookmark ideas. Some ideas are as simple as just printing and others require a little Youtube tutorial. 







If you have fun summer activities or traditions that are book inspired, please SHARE! 

#soratherrread #summerreading #readersgonnaread

Book Review: Mortal Danger (Immortal Game #1) by Anne Aguire

Edie Kramer has a score to settle with the beautiful people at Blackbriar Academy. Their cruelty drove her to the brink of despair, and four months ago, she couldn't imagine being strong enough to face her senior year. But thanks to a Faustian compact with the enigmatic Kian, she has the power to make the bullies pay. She's not supposed to think about Kian once the deal is done, but devastating pain burns behind his unearthly beauty, and he's impossible to forget.

In one short summer, her entire life changes, and she sweeps through Blackbriar, prepped to take the beautiful people down from the inside. A whisper here, a look there, and suddenly... bad things are happening. It's a heady rush, seeing her tormentors get what they deserve, but things that seem too good to be true usually are, and soon, the pranks and payback turns from delicious to deadly. Edie is alone in a world teeming with secrets and fiends lurking in the shadows. In this murky morass of devil's bargains, she isn't sure who—or what--she can trust. Not even her own mind...

Release Date: August 2014
Age Group: YA
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Reviewed By: Ms. Leger

So, right off I noticed the theme of bullying. A smart, brainy, unattractive high school girl attending a preppy private school who gets viciously teased by the rich "teflon" group. I was immediately vested in the book because I could relate to the feelings and motions she went through, I've seen it time and time again with students and it had a creepy feel to it.

What I really liked was the twist. Edie gets 3 wishes to get even. I tell my own kids and students to be careful what you wish for because it may not turn out the way you wanted. I really enjoyed Edie's thought process and often caught myself having the same doubting thoughts she did. 

There was anger, revenge, deceit and doubt all wrapped into a single bargain and what a ride it was! I never lost interest and would consider this book a really good paranormal YA. I look forward to 2nd in the series.

Ms. Leger

*image source: goodreads.com

Book Review: Fearless Frosty by Chloe Chick (Sisu Girls)

Fearless Frosty tells the tale of New Zealander Anna Frost and how she chased her dream to become a professional mountain runner.

"Whatever it is, go after it.
Find the thing that makes you fly!

Because one thing is for certain:

You'll never know unless you try."

Fearless Frosty is the first book in our collection of stories about fearless females.

Release Date: June 2015
Age Group: Children, Middle Grade, Girls
Source: Purchased
Reviewed By: Nat

I actually came across this book on my 10 year old daughters instagram. Yes, you read that right, my 10 year old. She has had one since she was 8 and it is trolled by her helicopter parents. She is a skateboarder and long story short, we felt that social media would actually help to inspire and motivate her. Her feed is filled with female athletes and friends that she has made through her sport. One of the groups that she follows are the Sisu Girls.

SisuGirls is a global movement encouraging girls to step into themselves through sport and adventure. Sisu is a Finnish term for determination, bravery and resilience. We want all girls to have the self-belief and conviction to try new things, the tenacity to endure, and the bravery to push boundaries. We want girls to discover the outdoors, adventure and sports. Not always to compete, but to be involved, be active and most importantly to learn about themselves and others. We want girls to develop strong foundations of confidence, so they have the self-belief to follow their dreams, with sisu.

When I saw that Sisu was going to start a series of books based on actual women in action-adventure sports, I knew I would be exercising my paypal skills. I was really impressed with the actual book itself, it is such a nice hardback and the author Chloe even signed it.

I read it first and really liked the illustrations and knew my boys would probably like it and they did. My daughter read it next and had a lot of questions about mountain running. Which made me have questions too, so we did what we do best... we googled it. But the really cool result of this book was listening to her talk about what she was going to accomplish in skateboarding! And then we just sat and talked about how cool it would be if she had a book about her one day. :)

We.Sat.And.Talked.  <--- #winning

Anything that gets a tween or teen to open up and reflect is a real winner. Overall, it was just really neat to sit and listen to her talk about her dreams, her plans and to know that each one is possible.

If anything this book is a motivator for young girls and is also a fun read for all kids in general! So support the Sisu Girls and buy this book! Go HERE 

Read more about the Sisu Girls HERE.
Follow on instagram HERE.

image sources: goodreads.com & sisugirls.org

Book Review: The Last Girl (The Dominion Trilogy #1) by Joe Hart

A mysterious worldwide epidemic reduces the birthrate of female infants from 50 percent to less than 1 percent. Medical science and governments around the world scramble in an effort to solve the problem, but twenty-five years later there is no cure, and an entire generation grows up with a population of fewer than a thousand women.
Zoey and some of the surviving young women are housed in a scientific research compound dedicated to determining the cause. For two decades, she’s been isolated from her family, treated as a test subject, and locked away—told only that the virus has wiped out the rest of the world’s population.
Captivity is the only life Zoey has ever known, and escaping her heavily armed captors is no easy task, but she’s determined to leave before she is subjected to the next round of tests…a program that no other woman has ever returned from. Even if she’s successful, Zoey has no idea what she’ll encounter in the strange new world beyond the facility’s walls. Winning her freedom will take brutality she never imagined she possessed, as well as all her strength and cunning—but Zoey is ready for war.

Release Date: March 2016
Age Group: YA, Dystopian
Source: Review copy from publisher
Reviewed By: Nat

I am always down for a nice, twisted dystopian but what really caught my interest with The Last Girl was the medical/science theme. Sadly this is what also drove me insane. 

Dystopian lit is either original or not. I've read so many that are "cookie-cutters" and unoriginal but  The Last Girl was unique. The idea of a virus wiping out the female race is just so creepy. I was interested to see just how feral the world (men) would become with the absence of women. 

The main character Zoey was a little hard to relate with because of #instalove and her #instaGIJane antics. I mean, I'm sure if I were faced with a life or death situation I would instantly become a psycho-ninja but I would have no idea how to load or aim a gun. And 'ol Zoey, who came from a completely controlled compound, just busted out her marine moves and shot.

Oddly enough, I really liked the mean girls best because I understood their anger and closed-minded thought process.  And I really wanted to choke the teacher. #thefeels May not be the best kind but still- these characters were just better developed.

Overall, Hart did a nice job of setting the stage but I still have so many questions. Which is typical for a first book in a series. But the one question that I just couldn't let go of was the basis of the story THE GIRL

Basic science tells us that men (sperm) have the final decision in gender selection. So why is this advanced, crumbling society focusing on the last few girls?  What I am hoping is that book two will really drop a few bombshells and give this world a little more focus and direction. Right now I feel like I have started a book, got halfway through and then had to return it to the library and wait my turn to finish!

I think there is potential for The Dominion Trilogy and I hope Mr. Hart brings it in book two! It is a very fast read and would easily be liked by teens.

 image source: goodreads.com

A Tribute to Mama

Happy Mother's Day!

A tribute to all the Mama's out there who keep it real. #iseeyou

Book to Movie to TV Series Review: The Mortal Instruments (Season 1)

Summary: On her birthday, Clary Fray discovers a surprise concerning her life. The teenager is not who she thinks she is -- she comes from a long line of human-angel hybrids, called Shadowhunters, who hunt demons. After her mother is kidnapped, Clary is thrust into the world of demon-hunting. Clary relies on mysterious Jace and fellow hunters Isabelle and Alec to help her navigate the dark world. While living in this new world among creatures like vampires and werewolves, Clary's best friend Simon helps her uncover answers that could help her find her mother. The fantasy show is based on a series of young adult books by Cassandra Clare.

I have to say this is a first for me, a Book to Movie to TV Series Review. When Cassandra Clare was writing The Mortal Instruments series we were SO into it! I even traveled to a book signing to meet her (and her rocking purple hair). When the series concluded she dropped two bombshells: 1. it would be extended and 2. there was a movie adaptation in the works. Those two surprises for book lovers are equivalent to winning the lottery. In short, I (and all human-kind) were winning.

Then the last two installments rolled out followed by the movie. I really enjoyed the series and the world that Clare created. I still think it is one of the best YA worlds imagined. With that said, I was so freaking pumped about the movie-- like Twilight excited. BUUUUUTTTTTT... the movie sucked.

I don't mean to be mean, really. The storyline was true to the series and the graphics were fantastic but the actors really killed it for me. I kept thinking of the Volturi when I looked at Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower) and he was just too skinny. I don't know what else to say, I just didn't like it. BUT I still bought that sucker on DVD and supported my fellow YA cronies {my grassroots efforts to keep the YA adaptations flowing}.

So, when I heard that there was a TV series in the works for TMI I was automatically interested. 


Because a TV series format can really work out some of the storyline and plot twists in books better than a movie. Case in point, The Vampire Diaries --> the books were terrible. The series (and its spin-off The Originals) are the BEST. VAMPIRE. SERIES. EVER. 

I knew I had to give TMI series a fair shot.

I had to prepare. 
I had to inspect the cast. 
  *Katherine McNamara who plays Clary has been a frequent on several of the Disney shows that my kids love so I was really excited to see a familiar face. Plus I knew she could do weird. #thehauntinghour
Watch the trailers. 
And record the first 4 episodes {see #SHOWHOLE post for explanation}. 

After watching the pilot episode I was on the fence. It was like watching the Vampire Academy Movie with regard to the acting. And then it HIT ME! I looked up my review of VA: Blood Sisters and low and behold who played Christian Ozara --> Dominic Sherwood aka "The new Jace".  He was my favorite of that whole movie adaptation. 

In my best Yoda voice I thought Press Forward You Must.

13 episodes later (season 1) and I'm hooked! It's creepy, clever and even witty. I love all the characters, they all fit what I imagined while reading the series. With one exception, Alec, he is even better looking than I imagined. It made me realize how much I missed Magnus Bane. He is just so fluffy and wise.

There is so much potential for plot twists while still staying true to the series Clare created. So far, I like the changes made and am currently suffering through what I like to call The Star Wars dilemma that Clare so kindly bestowed on us mere mortals. All in all the series ended on a high and has just been given a green light for season 2! 

My final parting words are simple.

Go now and watch. Watch them all. 

Binge on my friends! As always, binge responsibly.

If you're a #Newb and none of this makes sense go HERE.
#shadowhunter #cityoffallenangels #claryfairchild #prettylittleliars #cityofheavenlyfire #cityofglass #cityoflostsouls #cityofbones #isabellelightwood #tmi #domsherwood #jamiecampbellbower #simonlewis #vampires #valentinemorgenstern #claryfray #aleclightwood #werewolves #themortalinstruments #jacemorgenstern #cityofashes #katherinemcnamara #jacewayland #bloodlines #witches #magnusbane #thevampirediaries #ifistay #lilycollins #vampireacademy