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2021 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama
- Alaska
- Arizona (1)
- Arkansas
- California (4)
- Colorado (1)
- Connecticut (1)
- Delaware
- Florida
- Georgia
- Hawaii (1)
- Idaho
- Illinois (4)
- Indiana
- Iowa
- Kansas
- Kentucky (1)
- Louisiana (1)
- Maine
- Maryland (1)
- Massachusetts (1)
- Michigan (1)
- Minnesota (1)
- Mississippi
- Missouri
- Montana
- Nebraska (1)
- Nevada (1)
- New Hampshire (1)
- New Jersey (1)
- New Mexico
- New York (4)
- North Carolina (1)
- North Dakota
- Ohio (6)
- Oklahoma
- Oregon
- Pennsylvania (1)
- Rhode Island (1)
- South Carolina (1)
- South Dakota
- Tennessee
- Texas (1)
- Utah (1)
- Vermont (2)
- Virginia (3)
- Washington (3)
- West Virginia
- Wisconsin
- Wyoming (1)
- *Washington, D.C.

International:
Australia (2)
Canada (3)
England (6)
France (1)
Ireland (1)
Switzerland (1)
The Philippines (1)
Wales (1)

My Progress:


28 / 51 states. 55% done!

2021 Fall Into Reading Challenge

My Progress:


0 / 24 books. 0% done!

2021 Children's Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

2021 Children's Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
(Hosted by Yours Truly!)

My Progress:


6 / 25 books. 24% done!

2021 Popsugar Reading Challenge

My Progress:


33 / 50 books. 66% done!

Booklist Queen's 2021 Reading Challenge

My Progress:


35 / 52 books. 67% done!

2021 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

2021 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

The 52 Club's 2021 Reading Challenge

My Progress:


39 / 52 books. 75% done!
Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Keep It Real ... You Might Learn Something

(Image from author's blog)

My kids have been out of school for a couple days now and, let me tell you, parenting just got a lot more real around here!  For the past ten months, all four of my children have been spending most of their day at school.  Now that summer break is here?  They're home.  All day.  With assorted friends in tow.  My quiet halcyon days are no more—now they're filled with the sounds of video games, cartoons and whines of "I'm bored" and "Mooommmm, he/she's teasing me!"  Every summer I wonder if I'm going to survive the next couple months, let alone the remainder of my parenting career (which, as you know, is pretty much a life-long thing). 

Enter Julie K. Nelson, a blogger, college professor, and (most importantly) the mother of five children.  Her new book, Keep it Real and Grab a Plunger, offers some tried-and-true, down-to-Earth advice about how to maintain your sanity while working "the toughest job you'll ever love."  Parenting isn't for wimps, after all.  Nelson's 25 Tips for Surviving Parenthood are a little random—they run the gamut from how to soothe your child's fears to inspiring kids through learning their family history to controlling Internet use at home to the importance of having a pet.  Each section offers expert advice pulled from Nelson's own experience, quotes from prominent members of society, and suggestions from other moms who have spent some time in the parenting trenches. 

Keep It Real and Grab a Plunger doesn't say anything new or revolutionary.  You've heard it all before.  But, Nelson says her piece in an upbeat, encouraging manner that makes her book very readable.  Truthfully, I wasn't expecting any big a-ha moments while reading it, so the chapter on yelling (Keep It Real ... and Take a Time-Out) surprised me with its aptness.  It offered some great tactics that I hadn't necessarily considered (Let your kids record your tirades with a cell phone?  That would be sobering.)  As parents, we need all the help we can get (even if we've been on the job so long we think we know everything), and Keep It Real and Grab a Plunger offers that.  Maybe you won't learn anything new from it, but maybe you'll find a nugget or two of useful information.  I did.  So, while this book won't revolutionize the parenting world, it's definitely worth a read.  


(Readalikes:  Other parenting books, although no specific title comes to mind)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished e-copy of Keep It Real and Grab a Plunger from its generous author, Julie K. Nelson.  Thank you!

A Handful of Stars Another Heartwarming Winner From Lord

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Ever since her longtime best friend became obsessed with boys (specifically, the "Amazing" Brandon), 12-year-old Lily's felt like the only pea left in their pod.  Hanging out with Hannah isn't the same anymore.  Lily's tired of hearing about Brandon and Hannah, apparently, is just tired of Lily.  Without Hannah, Lily's got only one real friend, her blind black Lab, Lucky.  Funny enough, it's him who leads her to the surprising friendship that will transform not just her summer, but also her whole outlook on life in small-town Maine.

When Lucky makes a crazy dash across the blueberry barrens, his vision too blurry to see the big farm truck barreling toward him, it's Salma Santiago who saves him.  Salma's a Hispanic migrant worker, who's spending the summer working alongside her parents picking blueberries.  Lily's seen kids from migrant families before, but she's never spoken to one.  Local kids and the children of seasonal workers don't really mix.  Nevertheless, Lily's immediately drawn to Salma.  Outgoing and kind, Salma's just the kind of pal Lily would like to have.  As the girls grow closer, though, their friendship creates a stir in town.  Especially when Salma decides to enter a local beauty pageant, the same one Hannah's hoping to win.  

As the crowning of the Downeast Blueberry Queen draws closer, Lily will learn some hard lessons about prejudice, belonging, and standing up for what's right, even when it means losing everything. 

No one writes heartwarming middle grade novels quite like Cynthia Lord.  I've loved all of her books because of their vivid settings and authentic characters, as well as their focus on family, friendship, and doing the right thing even when (especially when) it's difficult.  A Handful of Stars, Lord's newest, is just as touching as her other books.  Lily is a sympathetic character whose big, but broken heart makes her very real.  Readers can easily relate to her concern for her aging dog, her worries about her friends, and her grief over her mother.  As Lily helps Salma break barriers, she also becomes a brave, admirable heroine.  While A Handful of Stars touches on some heavy themes, it's a hopeful book, one that's affecting without being melodramatic or sentimental.  Not surprisingly, I loved it.   

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't really think of anything.  Can you?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-galley of A Handful of Stars from the generous folks at Scholastic via those at Edelweiss.  Thank you!

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The Gold in These Hills by Joanne Bischof

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Glass Houses by Louise Penny



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