Photo Challenge #39 / Looking Down

20180708ma_3847“Collection” / Theme: Looking Down

A little about this photo…

After collecting these acorns at the park, my nephew came directly to me to photograph them. (He knows his aunt will do stuff like that!) So, we found a spot in the shade and I told him to arrange it. This is what he did. Of course, I first started with a close-up of the acorns, but then I went for the overhead shot. The close-up turned out, but I somehow like this one because it adds that little human touch. This is his collection.

THIS WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE is posted every Saturday. Please join me in posting your own photos with #2018picoftheweek

Review: You Go First

You-go-firstBook: You Go First (2018)
Author: Erin Entrada Kelly
Genre: MG, Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars

Basic Plot: This is the story of two protagonists who are Scrabble partners online. Charlotte is dealing with a father in the hospital and Ben is dealing with the news that his parents are getting a divorce. On top of that, they’re both having trouble at school.


1) This is a book about the masks we wear. Each of our two protagonists (Charlotte and Ben) have their own struggles that they hide from the world.  It’s an interesting topic explored in this book… how we know people, but really do not “know” them because none of us wants to go first with our story. Both kids (Charlotte and Ben) are facing some challenging stuff. But the answer is not in finding each other. The answer (given in the book) is finding a friend. A friend where you are. Of course, in real life this is harder than the book makes it out to be.

2) I like how this book takes on the topic of bullies… many different kinds of bullies; including former friends who betray you. This is Charlotte’s problem. And then there are the more classic bullies, the ones that Ben has to face. The answer (which I think is in fact very true) is in finding that one friend. Fortunately for both Ben and Charlotte, they do each find a good friend by the end of the book.

3) The online Scrabble component of the story was a fun connection between the two characters.


1) Ben and Charlotte never actually meet. By the end of the book, I wondered why she wrote about two kids that never meet and never really interact in any meaningful way. (Neither one of them “go first” in revealing the tough stuff that they’re dealing with.) Come to think of it, this could have been two different books in a series.


My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5) – I rather liked this story. Would definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a book dealing with how how kids deal with tough issues in their lives.


Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

ARC Review: Anne Arrives

anne-arrivesAnne Arrives // by Kallie George
Release Date: September 25, 2018
Genre: MG Picture Book
My Rating: 4 Stars

**Note: I received a free copy of this title from the people at NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

Basic Plot: Mrs. Lynde is surprised when she sees her neighbour, Matthew Cuthbert, going to town. She discovers from Marilla that the Cuthberts are adopting a boy. Except, when Matthew gets to the train station, there’s only a girl. He brings her home, because what else can he do?


1) The illustrations by Abigail Halpin are absolutely delightful. I adore them! I like how she captured Anne herself. She looks like Anne! I particularly like some of the illustrations that have just Anne in them. Like when she’s looking (sadly) out the window at the cherry blossom tree (the Snow Queen). Such a beautiful two-page spread!

2) This would make a wonderful introduction to Anne of Green Gables, especially for children who are ready for Chapter Books. This book is rather like a Chapter Book, in fact.

3) Oh, I teared up at the scene where Matthew comes to speak to Anne in the bedroom. (When she’s in big trouble with Marilla.)


1) The title is a little weird. Why not Anne Comes to Green Gables, or something like that?

2) I know I raved about the illustrations. But it can be a hard thing to capture characters we love in drawings. Matthew and Marilla were a little off for me. Matthew’s long grey hair and brown beard were a little weird. And Marilla… Ah well, just personal opinion here. No major criticism.


My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5) – I don’t often review picture books, but when I saw this one was about Anne of Green Gables, I was inspired to request it. It’d be a wonderful introduction to the world of Anne! I’d recommend it for Grade 2-3. And really, for any fan of Anne of ANY age.

Photo Challenge #38 / Liquid

20180921ma_4995“Rain Water” / Theme: Liquid

A little about this photo…

This is water coming from our rain barrel. And so, it qualifies as rain water. I love the little drops as well as the water that is just spurting out of the faucet. You can even see tiny drops of water shooting out at the front.

THIS WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE is posted every Saturday. Please join me in posting your own photos with #2018picoftheweek

Book Tag / I Spy Book Challenge

Thank you to Tale of a Bookworm for tagging me in the I Spy Book Challenge.

The Rules:

Find a book that contains (either on the cover or in the title) an example for each category. You must have a separate book for all 20, get as creative as you want and do it within five minutes!

The books I chose are from books I’ve already read. While I like some of these titles better than others, I would recommend them all! (Note: And I’m pretty sure I took more than five minutes. 😉 )

Food || Transportation || Weapon || Animal

Number || Something You Read || Body of Water || Product of Fire

Royalty || Architecture || Clothing Item || Family Member

Time of Day || Music || Paranormal Being || Occupation

Season || Color || Celestial Body || Something That Grows

Who Do I Tag?

I’m note tagging anybody specifically. But if you want to do this tag, please do! And let me know your results 🙂 

Newbery Verdict: The Avion My Uncle Flew

The Avion My Uncle Flew // by Cyrus Fisher (1946)

Avion-Uncle-FlewNewbery Honor Book (1947)
Genre: MG, Fiction/Historical
Rating: 3 Stars

Basic Plot: Johnny Littlehorn injures his leg at his home on a ranch in Wyoming. To help with the healing process, he is sent to live with his uncle in a small village in France. As he helps his uncle build an “avion” on top of a mountain, he discovers a plot that involves a secret cache of gold and Nazis in hiding…


Johnny’s mother is originally from France, but Johnny has no interest in learning the language. So, she makes a deal with him that encourages him to start learning… quickly. The whole book is scattered with French words (like the title of the book) and shows us Johnny’s thought process as he figures out different French phrases. Everything is fairly simple, but I liked how it was done.

One of the funniest parts is when Johnny is trying to get his friend, Charles, to help him with a plan. Except that Charles only speaks French and Johnny’s French is simple at best. Of course, misunderstandings happen and well… I won’t spoil it for you.

I hesitated to put this down as “historical fiction”… Because it was published in 1946, technically it’d be contemporary fiction! I do love how it gives you a real idea of what life was like during those post-war years in France… instead of through the eyes of a historical novelist writing from our own time.


I don’t think it would get a Newbery Honor today. And in some ways, the book hasn’t aged well. It had some good moments though. And I did enjoy it for its historicity.


Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? Would you give this a Newbery Honor today? Let me know in the comments!

Newbery Verdict Reading Challenge: This is a personal challenge for me to read books that have either won the Newbery Medal, or are a Newbery Honor book. The Newbery is named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. Since 1922, this annual award has given to the author of the “most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” A Newbery Honor book is given to the runners-up.

Photo Challenge #37 / Nature

20180815ma_4324.jpg“Spider Tree” / Theme: Nature

A little about this photo…

This tree brings up so many questions. I mean, what makes a tree grow like this? Is it some sort of portal to another land? Does anything live under there? Assuming this tree doesn’t already have tenants, don’t you just want to make a fort under there?

Well, it certainly makes for an interesting photo. It makes me wonder if it’s going to start walking at any moment.

THIS WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE is posted every Saturday. Please join me in posting your own photos with #2018picoftheweek

Review: Breakout

breakoutBook: Breakout (2018)
Author: Kate Messner
Genre: MG, Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars

Basic Plot: Nora, Lizzie, and Elidee all live in a small town that houses a large prison. Their world is interrupted when two inmates escape and the entire town goes into lock-down mode. While Nora is determined to get the scoop, both Lizzie and Elidee have their own troubles. And then there’s the mad mile, an annual tradition that keeps getting cancelled because the grownups are freaking out about the escaped prisoners…


1) I enjoyed the format, which ranges from letters (for a time capsule) to text messages to newspaper articles. It’s nice to see the different perspectives of the different people in the story. Lizzie’s parody news segments are pretty amusing.

2) Nora and Lizzie have a great friendship. I liked the arc for the new girl, Elidee, and how she eventually fits into the story.

3) The manhunt is pretty exciting stuff. And, of course, it’s fun to know that our main characters [MINOR SPOILER] have a hand in the capture. But don’t worry. It’s actually quite realistic. And it’s based on history! And I love history… [END SPOILER]

4) I like the running sub-plot about the mad mile. I like books about running, so what can I say?

5) Love the cover of this book!


1) It’s really quite a long book at 448 pages. Now, this is just my personal opinion, but I would have removed all the Hamilton references and the hip-hop battles and poetry. First, I’m not a huge fan of poetry. And second, I just don’t get why that musical is so popular. (I’ve heard the music, and I’m not impressed. I feel like my grandmother!) Okay, let’s just say that this wasn’t my favourite part of the book, I tended to skim those sections anyway. (I would have been more interested if Elidee was reading more about space/planets.) I think Messner could have cut it completely and saved a few trees in the process.

2) Why did Elidee and her mother move upstate about two weeks before school gets out? This just didn’t make sense. Especially since there was no super good reason for this to happen. Two weeks would not make a difference. And if absolutely necessary, I really think Elidee’s mom would have let her continue at her old school in New York City for a few more weeks (since she could have stayed with her aunt and cousins for that time.) So, my complaint here is that Elidee’s arrival felt like an obvious plot device.

3) I felt that the racial issues dealt with in the book were not really necessary to the actual story. It’s like Messner was trying to fit it in, and those parts came across as forced and preachy. (Not that you couldn’t have a book about these issues, but I think they’d deserve their own story. It just got lost in this story.)


My rating is 3 Stars (out of 5) – I found this book enjoyable for the most part. The girls were fun to read about, and the manhunt was quite suspenseful.


Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

ARC Review: Louisiana’s Way Home

Louisianas-Way-HomeLouisiana’s Way Home // by Kate DiCamillo
Release Date: October 2, 2018
Genre: MG, Historical (1970s)
My Rating: 4 Stars

**Note: I received a free copy of this title from the people at NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

Basic Plot:Granny wakes Louisiana up in the middle of the night, and they set off on a journey to rid themselves of the family curse. But Louisiana soon discovers that there’s more to her history than she realized. Suddenly, she finds herself left to her own devices in a small town in Georgia. And all she really wants is to find her way home again.


1) Louisiana’s voice as narrator is amazing! I love how she uses big words (because her grandmother uses big words). And she talks non-stop… but in a very pleasing way. (Kind of like Anne of Green Gables. And comparing Louisiana to Anne is probably the highest praise I can give!)

2) There are some great scenes… varying from the delightfully comedic (involving driving and dentists) to more serious moments (involving funerals and fainting). And then there’s the cast of quirky characters: The Burke Allens (all 3 of them), Miss Lulu (who can’t quite play the organ), and the walrus-like Reverend Obertask, just to name a few.

3) My suspicions about Louisiana’s family are confirmed in this book. (Something I suspected back in the first book.) This, of course, is revealed just at the right spots in the plot.

4) I love Betty Allen (Burke’s mom) and her cakes. I drew a big breath of relief when she and Reverend Obertask finally figure out a few things.

5) This story really is heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time. DiCamillo hits all the right emotional chords just at the right moment. The ending brought tears to my eyes.

6) This is one book where I actually enjoyed the “sequel” more than the original. I liked the first book very much, but there’s something about Louisiana that is very compelling and endearing. She makes for a wonderful narrator and protagonist.


1) Some of the adults drove me crazy!! I wish they would take one look at Louisiana and realize that something is not right with her situation. (But I also understand that this is kind of important for plot reasons, so it not a major criticism.)

My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5) – For me, 4-stars means I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s worth the read just to hear Louisiana’s voice tell her story. She’s definitely a protagonist you will want to root for.

Photo Challenge #36 / Numbers

20180707ma_3742“Dialing Out” / Theme: Numbers

A little about this photo…

I love these old phones and I kind of miss them. Not that I don’t like speed dial, but I find that dialing one of these babies is rather therapeutic. So, for this prompt, I decided to use a slower shutter speed to get blur on the old rotary dialer. (As you can see, we weren’t REALLY dialing anybody since the receiver is still in the cradle. It was a phone that you could play with in a museum!)

THIS WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE is posted every Saturday. Please join me in posting your own photos with #2018picoftheweek