Top 10 Tuesday: Books for the Beach… or the Back Porch!

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If you’re like me, you love reading on the beach!  (Also if you’re like me, you’re a poor grad school student who must settle for the back porch).  Whether you’re heading for the great outdoors or staying home this summer, make sure to check out this week’s link up at The Broke and the Bookish.

I should preface this post by saying some people like to read dark and scary thrillers by the beach.  I am NOT one of those people!  I like my beach reads to be more lighthearted, heartwarming, and/or humorous and witty.  There’s enough drama and darkness in everyday life without bringing it on vacation!  Without further ado, here’s some of my favorite go-to authors and (in my opinion) their best books to read by the beach:


5 Go-To YA Authors:

  • John Green
  • Ann Brashares
  • Sarah Dessen
  • Megan McCafferty
  • Deb Caletti

5 Go-To Adult Authors:

  • Liane Moriarty
  • Jennifer Weiner
  • Erin Hilderbrand
  • Sophie Kinsella
  • Emily Giffin

Agree?  Disagree?  Who’s in your book bucket this summer?

Top 10 Tuesday: Time After Time

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I am so excited to link up this week with all the other awesome bloggers for Top 10 Tuesday at The Broke and the Bookish!  Part of being a good reader is reflecting.  I admit this is not something I always take the time to do- a lot of times I’m in a hurry to cross a book off my list and move on to the next one.  That’s why I was so excited to have to sit back and do some soul-searching for the link up this week.  Without further ado, here’s the Top 10 Books I feel differently about now that time has passed.

1.  The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

I used to love these books.  I still do, for the most part.  But then Lois Lowry released Son, the final dystopian title in the series that started with The Giver.  One of the things that intrigued me the most about the book was that it explores the concept of confronting violence and evil with nonviolence and empathy.  When Son first came out I read an interview given by Lois Lowry about it, and I haven’t been able to shake her words from my mind.

“I thought [The Hunger Games] was well done, but I was troubled by the fact that it was about children killing children. I can’t get past that for some reason. Kids seem to be quite blasé about that, but it seems to indicate something deeply wrong with our culture.”

Definitely changed my perspective a bit!

2.  Lurlene McDaniel

I’m ashamed to say I gobbled her novels up like candy when I was a teenage girl!  Now I know there’s so many better titles out there for teens wanting to read romantic fiction- such as Sarah Dessen, for example.

3.  Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

Yes, it’s a wee bit lengthy and the introspection can be a bit over the top, but I really loved this tale of an escaped Australian convict on the run.  Plus it’s full of epic words of wisdom, such as…

“Happiness is a myth.  It was invented to make us buy things.”

So when I saw a sequel was coming, I was understandably excited and nervous.  The Mountain Shadow continues the story but unfortunately not with the same caliber.  It’s not bad, it’s just not nearly as good.  I try to not let its flaws overshadow the first book.  Some days I even succeed!

4.  You by Caroline Kepnes

Why did I read the sequel Hidden Bodies?  You was so different.  It was spooky and special and somewhat beyond words.  In the words of Stephen King,

“Never read anything quite like it.”

You just can’t do something like that twice (no pun intended)!  Unless if you’re J.K. Rowling, of course.  Everyone else needs to stop ruining good things with sequels.

5.  The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan

Speaking of authors who actually can write a good sequel or or two or ten, next up is the ultimate saga for serious fantasy fans.  For those who don’t know, Robert Jordan tragically died before he could finish his work and Brandon Sanderson was hired to finish the job.  Now I have nothing against Sanderson, but obviously from that point on it just wasn’t the same.  Now I can’t start reading the series without thinking of the last few books and cringing.

6.  To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper E. Lee

Yet another situation where I wish I hadn’t read the so-called sequel.  Because it’s really not a sequel.  Go Set a Watchman is more like the very very rough draft of To Kill a Mockingbird.  While it’s pretty fascinating to think about the evolution of a novel from start to finish, Go Set a Watchman pretty much ended my adulation of Atticus and destroyed the dreams of my childhood.

7.  The Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyer

Just to be clear, I NEVER liked these books!  To be fair, I did try to read them.  Twice.  I always got stuck during New Moon.  By the time Bella threw herself off the cliff to catch her boyfriend’s attention I was pretty ready for her to die, too.  However, my initial dislike has turned into something more like outright disgust/borderline hatred/probably unresonable antipathy as time goes on.  To the point where I’m tempted to forcibly weed them from the library collection.  (I mean, we all know how hard backpacks are on books, right?  It’s entirely plausible for each book in a series to sustain water damage at the same time… darn teenagers!)


I remember being a teenage girl.  It was hard enough without books like Twilight trying to teach me that my only value lay in having a boyfriend.

*cough* Moving on now…


8.  Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

I used to love this book, as I love most everything by Jodi Picoult.  But that was before I was a teacher, before twelve people were murdered while watching a movie less than half an hour away from my workplace, before I married a man in law enforcement and learned more than I ever wanted about crime in America.  While I normally admire Picoult for tackling tough subjects, something about this novel left me feeling like she was cashing in on a controversial subject without due respect and care.  The characters were cliched, the similes felt like they were being pulled from her teeth… not at all up to her usual standard!

9.  The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller

If you’ve ever been in education, then chances are you’ve either read or heard about this book.  Talk about a paradigm shift!  This book totally changed the way I taught reading.  I was so excited to see Donalyn Miller one year at a conference… and then… SHE BASHED THE ANIMORPHS SERIES!  Could you do anything worse to a child of the 90’s?!  Needless to say, I took great offense at this slight to my first science fiction love.  As time goes on I still can’t read the book without remembering that terrible moment.  😦

10.  The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

You know, not every impression changes for the worst.  I first tried to pick this tale up in middle school but wasn’t enchanted.  Later when I saw the movie would be coming out, I decided to re-read it and fell absolutely in love.  Plus I wanted to be able to complain to my hubby the whole movie, “That’s now how it was in the book…”

No complaints about the addition of Orlando Bloom, however!  We could all use a little more Legolas in our lives, can’t we?  🙂

Top 10 Tuesday: Books that Make You LOL

Welcome to another addition of Top 10 Tuesday!  While writing this I realized I don’t really read funny books.  Like ever.  My personal bookshelf doesn’t contain a single happy-go-lucky feel-good or laugh-out-loud book.  Lots of murder mysteries and George R.R. Martin though.  (Not sure what that says about me… O.O)

Luckily, my professional bookshelf is another story!  One of the occupational hazards of working with kiddos is you end up reading a lot more kidlit than grown-up books.  And that’s okay because heck, a lot of times they’re a lot more fun!  This week I bring to you…

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(Picture Book Style)

Here they are, in no particular order:


1. The Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone

It doesn’t get any better than this classic!


2. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems

Did I say things couldn’t get better?  I LIED!  Pigeon is the ultimate awesome funny character.  Plus you can read a bunch of books about Pigeon’s silly stories!  (All of Mo Willems’s work is worth reading, by the way).

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3. Is Everyone Ready for Fun? by Jan Thomas

The funniest farm animal picture book I know (and also my favorite farm animal book overall).  I think I burst out laughing after every page!


4. Cowboy and Octopus by Jon Scieska and Lane Smith

Talk about the dynamic duo!  I love everything these two put together.  This funny tale of friendship is one of my favorites though.


5. This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

It’s funny and it’s a Caldecott.  What more needs to be said?  Go read it now and grab the prequel while you’re at it- I Want My Hat Back.


6. Alligator Baby by Robert Munsch

It was a toss-up for me between this gem and The Paper Bag Princess, but I think this book gets my little ones giggling a bit more.


7. Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown

They really do, don’t they?  You moms and dads amaze me.  I love kids but having to hang out with one all the time every day… whoa.  *makes sign of cross to ward off evil*


8. Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins

This is one my favorite newer funny stories.  It’s also absolutely adorable!


9. The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt (yes, that’s Oliver Jeffers illustrating!)

Not only is this book funny, it also gets you thinking about life from another perspective.

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10. All My Friends are Dead by Avery Monsen and Jory John (NOT for kiddos!)

Speaking of perspective, this little beauty of a book is both a funny and sad look at some of life’s harsh realities, such as:

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Honorable Mentions:

Little Owl Lost by Chris Haughton

Is There a Dog in this Book? by Vivian Schwarz

Gilbert Goldfish Wants a Pet by Kelly DiPuchio

Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano

Who’d I miss?  What’s making you LOL right now?  Don’t forget to link up at The Broke & the Bookish this week!

Top 10 Tuesday: Books for Tudor Enthusiasts to Try

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Thanks for reading my first Top Ten Tuesday Post!  Don’t forget to catch up on all the other great reads by heading over to The Broke & the Bookish.

I want to preface this post by saying I liked the Tudors before the TV series came out (or the movie with Natalie Portman, for that matter!)  The book that got me started on my Tudor trek many years ago (and inspired a lasting love of historical fiction in general) gets the honor of going first on my list:

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1. Elizabeth I, Red Rose of the House of Tudor, England 1544 (Royal Diaries)

The Royal Diaries series (published by Scholastic) is great for all young historical fiction buffs.  For the budding Tudor enthusiast, consider similar titles such as Carolyn Meyer’s Young Royals series.  Also consider Ann Rinaldi’s The Redheaded Princess or Nine Days a Queen: The Short Life and Reign of Lady Jane Grey.

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2. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

My favorite Philippa Gregory novel by far.  More than anything else, I love how she explores the relationship between sisters, especially in such a high-stakes environment as the Tudor court.

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3. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

It’s not hard to see why this book won the Man Booker prize.  Although the writing style is a deterrent to some, I absolutely loved it.  It’s definitely a unique read in the world of Tudor historical fiction.

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4. Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII by David Starkey

Moving away from fiction for a while, I recommend giving David Starkey a try.  His biographies are anything but dry, combining the facts with his own unique flavor.  Truly, truth is stranger than fiction!

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5. The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir

A good solid biography.  I enjoy all of Alison Weir’s biographical accounts, by the way, but I do not recommend her forays into fiction.


6. The Queen’s Fool by Philippa Gregory

There are only four books by Philippa Gregory that I’ve ever returned to, and this is one of them.  Generally I prefer books written from a primary player’s point of view, but this outside perspective provides a unique and refreshing look at Princess Mary and Elizabeth during some of the most tumultuous times of their lives.  (What can I say?  I’m all about relationship dynamics!)


7. Matthew Shardlake Series by C.J. Sansom

This brings me to another outsider account.  This series takes my two great loves and combines them together: historical fiction and mystery.  Follow the tales of lawyer and hunchback Matthew Shardlake as he wades through the treacherous waters of Henry VIII’s England.  (Really, I should be writing back cover descriptions, don’t you think?)

If you’re into more adventure and mystery during Tudor times, you may also want to check out P.F. Chisholm’s Sir Robert Carey Mystery series.


8. The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory

Speaking of treachery, enter into the troubled mind of Jane Boleyn as she serves Henry VIII’s next queens and soon follows her sister-in-law to the scaffold.  *cheers*  Talk about just deserts!

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9. The Thistle and the Rose by Jean Plaidy

What about Henry VIII’s equally hot-blooded and hot-tempered sisters?  Learn more about Margaret Tudor’s marital misadventures in Scotland in this fictional account by Jean Plaidy. (Also it’s the only Jean Plaidy novel I ever liked, so I figure that alone warrants it a place in this list).

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10. The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory

My fourth and final Philippa Gregory book.  Although Queen Mary of Scotland plays a prominent role in this novel, it’s actually Bess Hardwick who captured my attention.  If you’re interested in learning more about the woman behind the myths, I highly recommend John Guy’s Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart.

So what’d I miss?  Who do you recommend?   Would love to hear your thoughts!