It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 9/9/2019 #imwayr

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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!

Among my books this week are two ARCs that are being published this month: More to the Story by Hena Khan (published last week), and Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling (being published 9/17). Whether it’s a brand new book or something else, I hope you find something to add to your wish list.


More to the Story
Hena Khan
September 3, 2019
Salaam Reads/
Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers 

This lovely book follows the lives of four Muslim American sisters who live in Georgia: Aleeza is 10, Bizma is 11, Jameela Mirza is 13, and Maryam is 15. While not always obvious, the story is based on Louisa May Alcott’s beloved Little Women. In fact, I had forgotten this little fact when something happened in the story and I thought, Hey, that reminds me a lot of Little Women! It’s told from the perspective of the second oldest sister, Jameela Mirza, who has just been given the position of feature editor of her middle school newspaper. She hopes to write an award-winning article for the school paper this year and send it to her Baba (father) who has to been sent overseas for a 6-month position. Meanwhile, their father’s best friend (who the sisters lovingly refer to as “uncle”) brings his nephew, Ali, to Georgia from London.

While this was a fairly short book, each character is well developed. The plot line is nicely paced and the sisters share noticeable similarities to the March sister counterparts while also having their own personalities and unique experiences. Neatly woven into the story are important holidays and customs, and I especially appreciated the careful attention to explaining microagressions in a way that young readers can understand. I enjoyed this one so much and highly recommend it for any children’s and young teen library.

My sincere thanks to Netgalley, Salaam Reads, and Simon & Schuster for providing an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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.


Momentous Events in the
Life of a Cactus
(Aven Green #2)
Dusti Bowling
September 17, 2019
Sterling Children’s Books

If you’ve read Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus, then surely you’ve grown attached to Aven, Connor, and Zion. These characters shared the misfortune of being left out, bullied, and gawked at for much of their lives before finding comfort in one another. Well in book #2, Zion is still fairly timid, struggling to make eye contact. Connor still has continual tics due to Tourette syndrome. And Aven is still armless, obviously. But things are pumped up a notch as the friends enter high school with Connor going to a different school across town AND Aven attracting the attention of one of the most popular high school athletes.

School aside, there are plenty of other happenings in Stagecoach Pass: their beloved llama, Spaghetti, appears to be very ill, Henry’s memory seems to be worsening, Josephine is navigating her new life in an assisted living community, Aven is learning to jump a horse, and she suddenly has a desire to find her biological father. I LOVED THIS SECOND BOOK!!! I can’t even express how happy I was to be reunited with these lovely characters. I adore Aven’s quirky sense of humor and the way she faces and resolves conflict with her friends. I laughed and cried throughout the story, feeling all the feels. It’s no surprise that book #1 still has a 4.34 Goodreads rating and book #2 already has a STARRED review from Kirkus. Do yourself a favor and pre-order it right now!

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.


Bobbie Pyron
August 13, 2019
Katherine Tegen Books

This cover is absolutely gorgeous! But I’ll warn you that this story is WAY more than a cutesy dog story. Young Piper’s family has hit very hard times with both her parents out of work. They initially wind up in a homeless shelter where fathers must be separated from the mothers and children while hoping family placement will open up soon. They must now wait in long lines for food from a soup kitchen and the children ride the homeless bus to their new school.

Piper’s family is just like everyone else’s — full of love, hope, and joy. However, her family faces shame and embarrassment by others who judge their misfortune. Piper finds comfort in Firefly Girls Troop 423 where she gets to focus on earning badges, just like she did back in her old home. And when someone in their homeless community is sick, hospitalized, and separated from her beloved companion dog, it’s the entire community (homed and homeless) that comes together in hopes of getting her back to safety.

With both joy and sadness, there are important messages of empathy in this heartfelt tale. Because we never know when it might be OUR family standing in that free food line. Readers will also discover that people who are homeless are often the most generous of all — AND that it certainly doesn’t take blood and genetics to be family. This will be a well-loved book for middle grade readers!

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 Bear and the Nightingale
(Winternight Trilogy #1)
by Katherine Arden
January 10, 2017
Del Rey Books

I know very little of Russian folklore, but MY OH MY what an enchanting tale. This one was on my #MustReadin2019 list and I loved it so much that I’m going to have to start book #2 very soon. As the story takes place in a very cold Russia, it’s especially great for a winter read — perhaps when the ground is covered in snow and you need to snuggle up by the fire!

I’m not sure how much to share about the actual story without saying too much, but it’s historical fiction loaded with fantasy. It spans a number of years with a girl named Vasilisa at the center of the story. There’s evil creatures and magical abilities threaded throughout the tale. That’s seriously all I’m going to say. 🙂 I’m very much looking forward to hearing more of Vasilisa’s story, even if I hear book #2 begins with a great deal of political unease.

AWARDS: Locus Award Nominee for Best First Novel (2018), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Fantasy & for Debut Goodreads Author (2017), HWA Debut Crown Nominee for Longlist (2017)

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.

To Be Read:


This week I’m just going to focus on finishing Troublemakers: Lessons in Freedom from Young Children at School by Dr. Carla Shalaby. It’s a fairly short book, but I need time to read individual chapters, to think about each one, and to take it all in. If I get to more on my #MustReadin2019 reading list then that’s just icing on the cake. But I’m certainly thinking about this one a lot and enjoying the read, so far!


Reading Challenge Updates: 

Goodreads Challenge 2019 – 211/250
#MustReadin2019 – 26/42


18 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 9/9/2019 #imwayr

    1. When I first picked up Troublemakers I was thinking I’d just fly through it. But as I began to take notes, I realized I need to slow down and just take my time with it. I’m so happy our library has a copy! And I really hope you love More to the Story! I really like how she did the retelling. Thanks for visiting, Clare!


  1. More to the Story is coming from my library, & the Momentous Events will be soon. I love reading about Stay, just shared another dog book that touched my heart, will certainly find this one. Thanks, Shaye!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was such a wonderful middle grade week between More to the Story, Momentous Events, and Stay — all such wonderful stories and so well written. I’m hopeful that the Aven Green series will continue!! Thanks for dropping by, Linda!


  2. I thought The Troublemakers was an important book. I thought she did an excellent job of writing an expose while also being respectful of the adults who are being exposed. It is largely a systemic problem rather than a problem of individuals, and I thought her book navigated that well while still not letting individuals off the hook.

    I need More to the Story! I just requested that my public library purchase because they need it too!

    And you’ve totally sold me on The Bear and the Nightingale. I didn’t think I wanted to read that one, but now I do!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As I began reading Troublemakers I was thinking about the teachers being described and wondering how they felt about being scrutinized. That has to be a tough position to be in, but so so important! While I left the public school system to educate my five children at home (or wherever we happen to be!), I couldn’t help but look at them and consider which would be a “troublemaker” if confined to a 4-walled classroom. And I hope this is a good wake-up call to educators because the message of the frustrated troublemaker is an important one. Thanks for visiting, Elisabeth!


    2. I was also going to say that The Bear and the Nightingale was a very different read than what I’m accustomed to, but now I need MORE! I checked out the book-book through ILL and also listened to it on audiobook and the narrator did a fantastic job. So just know that it’s available on Overdrive (which you should have access to through our public library) and the wait should be no longer than 2 weeks. Book #2, The Girl in the Tower, is also available on Overdrive as an audiobook. I need to finish a few more titles from my #MustReadin2019 list and then I hope to start it.


  3. I have the ARC of Dusti Bowling’s book sitting on my dining room table. I definitely need to get to it, because I really enjoyed the first book in the series. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it. Have a terrific week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t even tell you how much I loved book #2. I will be so sad if the Aven Green series doesn’t continue!! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, Jana! Thanks for swinging by.


    1. Yes, book #1 could have ended the story. And I had no idea it was going to be a series. But it’s so fun seeing Aven experiencing high school. Well, both fun AND heartbreaking. Dusti Bowling does a fantastic job of re-opening this story. ❤


    1. Stay was quite beautiful and could be pair with a number of other great middle grade books about fur babies, but it would also pair well with some recent books about homelessness. I’m so excited by the recent selection of topics that we’re not longer so afraid to address for this age group. And I’m looking forward to hearing what you think of More to the Story – it was such a quick and enjoyable read! Thank you for visiting, Wendi!


  4. Momentous is a highly anticipated book at my school, we used Insignificant in our Battle of the Books and those that loved it, loved it fiercely. The had me pre-order it in May. Way earlier than I normally do, and I was worried I would forget and re-pre-order. They needed to be sure!
    I am going to check out The Bear and the Nightingale. Katherine Arden seems to be putting out a lot of books in a short time period with this series and Small Spaces! I love it when weather seems like a character in a book. I read a book set in Russia that I felt the same way about a few years ago called The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell. The rest of the book is probably not similar at all.
    Thanks for all the shares, have a great week!


  5. I loved More to the Story and the second Cactus book too! I thought Hena Khan did such a nice job weaving The Little Women comparisons into the story.
    I just put the other two books you mentioned on hold at the library!


  6. I loved Little Women and I’m adding More to the Story. Just tell me that Bizma doesn’t die! (As a fellow Beth I never did get over that.)


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