It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 8/5/2019 #imwayr

Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday to share what you’ve been reading!

We’re STILL working on our house and property. It seems the more jobs we finish, the more work we uncover that needs some attention. The bad news is that I’ve had an ongoing headache for the last 2-3 days. Every time I cough, sneeze, or strain in any way lifting or bending over, the pain level immediately increases on the left side of my head. Ouchy! In happier news, Jarrett J. Krosoczka will be visiting our campus this October! In fact, we just received word that all incoming freshmen will receive a copy of Hey, Kiddo as part of our Common Reading Experience program. Wow, wow, WOW! This is a huge deal for the area that I live in. The last big children’s author who came to our neck of the woods was Jan Brett — and that was back when she was promoting Cinders (talk about a packed house!!).

On to my reading… This week I read four great novels and some cute picture books. One review will be longer since it’s an e-ARC from Netgalley. I hope you’ll find something of interest to add to your reading list!


The Friendship Lie
Rebecca Donnelly
August 1, 2019

My sincere thanks to Capstone and NetGalley for approving this digital ARC in exchange for my honest review. The Friendship Lie is Rebecca Donnelly’s debut middle grade novel. The story follows the friendship of Cora and Sybella, two 5th graders who (along with Kyle, Cora’s twin brother) created an elaborate fantasy world they named Aquafaba. They are incredibly committed to this world and it grows and changes as their imaginations take flight. Cora and Kyle’s parents (who specialize in garbology at UC Berkeley) decide to separate and their mother moves to Belgium for short-term job, leaving Cora feeling extra sensitive. It’s right around this time that a talkative new girl named Marnie arrives at school, desperate to be included. But Cora and Sybella both give her the cold shoulder using secret code words and sneaky tactics to hide during lunch. However, there’s a miscommunication between Cora and Sybella that leave them both hurt, confused, and unable to seek resolution. Meanwhile, a 40-year-old diary turns up in a trash pile and reveals a past friendship-gone-wrong. Cora and Sybella both wonder what ever happened to that pained relationship from the diary since they see similarities to their current situation. Will their creative shared childhood spent in Aquafaba be enough to heal their pain and bridge the gap?

Outside of the friendship component, one fantastic part of this story was the focus on environmental science. We witness sincere dedication to reducing family waste AND the waste of all their neighbors. And I learned some interesting tidbits throughout this story (why have I never heard of biodegradable pasta straws??) all while considering some fun, educational activities to get children involved in reducing waste.

Maybe it’s the mama-of-five in me, but I felt badly for Marnie. Yes, she was annoying. And yes, her introduction to Aquafaba would have been a huge, frustrating disruption. But in the end, I hope middle grade readers take a moment to discuss how differently things might have gone if she hadn’t been ignored. It’s really not a bad idea to develop friendships with more than one person throughout your childhood.

Overall, I enjoyed this story and flew through it, anxious and hopeful to see resolution. Also… EVERYONE needs an Auntie Lake!! Read this one and tell me you don’t just love her! ❤

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


The Line Tender
Kate Allen
April 16, 2019
Dutton/Penguin Books USA

This realistic middle grade fiction story is Kate Allen’s debut novel. Lucy was eight years old when her marine biology mother died of an aneurysm on a boat off the coast of Massachusetts. Now she’s thirteen and spends most of her time with Fred, her science-loving best friend who lives next to her. As the school year comes to an end, a large great white shark is caught by accident, sending their small community into the national spotlight. This little mishap is good news for Lucy and Fred because they are working on a field guide for next year’s extra credit and they can include the shark. Fred does the science portion of the guide while Lucy does the illustrations. And over time we discover that scientists and artists are pretty much the same — wanting to learn how things work.

As this story unfolded, it brought tears to my eyes. I felt all cozy with the loving neighbors of this little tourist town. I love how the younger crowd looked out for the elderly citizens, how easily they all communicated with one another, and how you could include anyone on a last minute road trip. Oh, and I learned a lot about sharks! I’d say this one is upper middle grade — there’s some kissing, discussion of Lucy getting her period, some teenage drinking, and a child’s death.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


You’d Be Mine
Erin Hahn
April 2, 2019
Wednesday Books/St. Martin’s Press

This is a young adult contemporary romance about a young singer/songwriter named Annie Mathers and a slightly older (and much more famous) singer/songwriter named Clay Coolidge. Annie grew up with superstar music parents whose lives ended tragically in a double suicide. For that reason, Annie has stayed out of the limelight, enjoying moonlighting on her personal Youtube page. But her talent is quite obvious and she just might be the voice they need in his Clay’s next tour to save his sinking reputation. This is a fast read and there are constant parallels made to Johnny and June.  There are many songs discussed that will be recognized by most music fans, as well. And all along, a budding romance. Maybe. 🙂

TRIGGER: Double suicide and overdose

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.


Hope and Other Punchlines
Julie Buxbaum
May 7, 2019
Delacorte Press/
Random House Children’s Books

This book was a LOVELY surprise in my week! There was humor, pain, and so much meaningful discussion.

Do you remember where you were on September 11, 2001? Of course you do! Well, Abbi “Hope” Goldstein was just a baby on that day, celebrating her first birthday. A photographer captured an iconic snapshot of several people running from the towers, fleeing in terror, and covered in ash. Abbi became the famous “Baby Hope” because she, and all the other people in that photo, survived the horrific tragedy that day. But 16 years later, she continues to lie low. Because the moment people recognize her, they tell her everything they remember about that day (or who they lost) and she brings out all their emotions, serving as a continual reminder of their pain.

Noah Stern was also a baby on that fateful day. While he was not at ground zero, he lost his father in the towers’ collapse. He and his mother have done okay over the years, but Noah feels certain that one of the people in the iconic survivors photo is his father. So he plans to coerce Abbi into joining him on a quest to find each person in that photograph. His cover story is that he’s merely interviewing them for a special piece he will write, but he has other personal motives, as well. Noah has no idea what he’s asking Abbi to sacrifice for his benefit.

Told in alternating narration, the storyline was both interesting and insightful. There was moving discussion about how different people grieve along with details about the families who continued looking for their loved ones long after a seemingly fruitless search (I was stunned to learn about how identified remains were officially brought to families and how many caskets were empty or held only a single bone). The brief details shared about the 9/11 jumpers will bring a lump to your throat and the section talking about how children are constantly being replaced with a new version of themselves — wow, I just took it all in and felt the hugeness of it as a mother. These characters seemed so very real to me and I am certain they will stick with me a long, long while. Five stars! Julie Buxbaum is officially on my radar.

You can add it to your Goodreads list HERE.
If you do not have a local bookstore, you may purchase it through IndieBound HERE.
You may also choose to purchase it through Amazon HERE.

Dragons Are Real!
Unicorns Are Real!
Holly Hatam
March 26, 2019
Random House Children’s Books

Holly Hatam, recently known for her artwork in Dear Girl, and Dear Boy, (both authored by the Rosenthals) has created two new board books that prove, without a doubt, that certain mythical creatures do exist. Each book begins with a list of what the creature is made of, followed by a diagram pointing to which part belongs where. Then the remainder of each book gives the details of what the creature does on a regular basis. I just discovered that Hatham even has Mermaids Are Real! and Fairies Are Real! board books that I’ll have to hunt down SOON!

I’ll provide one page-spread example of the cute artwork, below:


You can add these two books to your Goodreads list HERE and HERE.

To Be Read:

I’ve just started reading Breakout by Kate Messner and The Great Jeff by Tony Abbott on audiobook.

Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2019 – 184/200
#MustReadin2019 – 22/42

18 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 8/5/2019 #imwayr

  1. I have mostly avoided 9-11 themed book- a little too close for comfort for me. But now I’m going to read one: Hope and Other Punch Lines. Thanks for the recommendation. I see you read a Kevin Henkes novel last week. (We were traveling and I missed “last week” on many levels!) His novels intrigue me. Such a voice!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know what you mean about 9-11 themed books. However, I’m very happy I decided to pick this one up. Very enjoyable! And I’m always intrigued by authors who can easily oscillate between writing children’s and middle grade literature. Kevin Henkes is so good at both! ❤


    1. That early-in-the-book tragedy totally took me by surprise, but I really liked The Line Tender! And I’m enjoying the start to Breakout — can’t wait to finish it! Thanks for dropping by, Lisa!


  2. Wow, another 9-11 book. What a terrible time that was, still in my memory even though it was so far away. My grandson had just arrived & I kept thinking about the world he would face. I have The Line Tender & The Friendship Lie on my list, & both sound good, Shaye. Hope your headache troubles go away fast!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was such a frightening day. My cousins were in New York City when it happened. One ran out of her apartment, hopped on her bike, and rode quickly to the towers. Shortly after clean-up began, she was having breathing problems and the doctors told her she looked like she had the lungs of someone who’d smoked for over 50 years due to all she inhaled on that day (she was still in her 20s at the time). My other cousin was already doing some photography work at a building top not a mile from the towers when the first plane struck. He said he shot photos that day that will never be released publicly. I think he was in shock by all he witnessed. It’s still so horrible to remember. 😦 Thank you for the well wishes on my headache, Linda. It’s sure been difficult to keep working through the pain. Ugh!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I drove to work hearing of the 1st plane, figured I wouldn’t say anything because it was just bad news. Then my students started arriving & told me the rest. We spent the day listening to news & had the fortunate circumstance of having a parent in one of the news rooms. Parents starting arriving through the day & stayed. We all comforted each other. I’m sorry about your cousins & of course all affected. My husband had a classmate die in the 2nd tower. I remember the skies being so very quiet.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Wow was that a tough day in the classroom. One of my students came in talking about it, but I was busy preparing for the day and didn’t understand exactly what he was saying (something about a plane crash he heard about on the radio). But once they came over the intercom and told us what was happening and that we could get to it on our classroom televisions, the world shifted. One of my student’s fathers was doing business in New York City that day, so his mom was frantically trying to reach him to make sure he wasn’t in one of the towers at the time. Another child in my classroom was from Afghanistan. His mother came up to me in tears, collapsed in my arms, and tried to explain why this was happening with extremists — what she understood the US was supporting where her family still lived. Another father came in who was on leave from his military duty in the Middle East and he had a lot to say to me about the turn of events. I was told that over 100 students in our district were directly related to bin Laden and they were pulled out of our schools that day by the government and placed in protective care. I still don’t understand why, but that was the word from our administrators. And yes, the skies were so quiet there for a while. Such a frightening week and still weighs so heavy on my heart.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I’d like to try out some pasta straws. My daughters especially like using straws, but our reusable straws get pretty gross inside and the plastic straws are terrible for the environment. If pasta straws are affordable, I’d love to go that route! I’ve enjoyed the beginning of Breakout and am looking forward to getting further into the story. Thanks for visiting, Aaron!


  3. I really enjoyed Breakout. I think it had a lot to say about privilege and perspective while still being an enjoyable drama for young readers. I hope you enjoy it, too. I also hope that you get some rest so you can get rid of those headaches. Take care of yourself!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for you comments on rest and my head. It’s so easy to overdo it and WOW am I feeling it right now. I’m also excited about getting further into Breakout this week! Thanks for visiting, Jana!


  4. OMG, you are so lucky to have Jarrett Krosoczki coming to your school! Hey, Kiddo is an awesome choice for an “all reads” program.

    The Line Tender sounds good – I hadn’t heard about it before.

    And I have been hearing a LOT about Hope and Other Punch Lines – it sounds so good! I read a Julie Buxbaum novel (for adults) MANY years ago – maybe her first, in fact – and enjoyed it, so I definitely want to read this one.

    So sorry to hear about your headache 😦 My son and I both get them as part of our illness, and it’s awful. Hope yours clears up soon.

    Enjoy your books this week –


    2019 Big Book Summer Challenge

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so sorry I just now found this comment in my spam folder. Thanks for your well wishes on the headaches. They’re still popping up and I’m wondering if this is just my new norm. And YES we are so excited about Jarrett Krosoczki’s visit. October will be a very special month for our small college town! Thanks for visiting, Sue!


    1. Oh the cover speaks volumes! I didn’t know what a line tender was before reading this book. And living in the middle of the US, we don’t have any ocean to visit. So I’m sure enjoying all of these books with a setting by the sea. The closest thing we have are large lakes where they’ve hauled in tons and tons of sand so that it feels like a tiny beach. lol Thanks for dropping by, Earl!


    1. Oh my goodness, I know what you mean!! I’m having a difficult time selecting what to read because there are just too many that I’ve heard wonderful things about. It’s hard to complain about having too many good books, though, so I’ll just have to find a way to deal. lol Thanks for dropping by, Laura!


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