2015 Diversity Reading Challenge Books

How to Pack Books for Your Vacation

It’s Summer!!! Now’s the time to get serious about your relaxing. But wait a minute, what will you read on YOUR vacation?? You can’t leave you summer reads to chance. You gotta take some serious thought to how you will fit all those books in your suitcase, right?


Oopsies, well that might not be your suitcase, but THAT’S where you’ll be wanting to relax with a smoothie and a book, right?

So. How many books do you pack?

I like to pack 3 books.


As you can see, there’s just one book packed in there. Not three. It’s an example people, work with me here!

So. I like to pack 3 books. The first book I pack goes in my carryon with me. I need quick access to a book because I start reading at the airport while waiting in line to be tortured by TSA. It should be moderately interesting.

Your 2nd and third books are the keys to vacation success.

The second book should be the one you just can’t put down! Looooooong stretches poolside are gobbled up by getting lost in a book. Whatever your genre is, THAT is your book. The one you’ve been LONGING to read.

Your third book should be an easier book. You’ll be wrapping up your vacation and so you don’t want anything too heavy cuz you’ll prolly be packing and easily distracted and you don’t want to hafta try to keep up with a heavy story. Plus, if you doze on on the plane, you won’t struggle too hard to find your place. Aaaaaand if you’re not digging the book so much you can always leave it somewhere for someone else to treasure!

So, this year’s vacation I struggled. I had planned to take 3 books, but my husband packed too many sundresses and there wasnt enough room for three books. Plus, I didn’t want to take my iPad (which I normally take) which contains like, a skajillion books. Big mistake. I only had two books, folks. And come Wednesday I was scared that I would run out of books.

What does any good bibliophile do when she runs out of books?

She runs to the bookstore!!

Thank goodness for Books and Books on Lincoln Road in Miami, baby!


BUY!!! ALL!!! THE!!! BOOKS!!!!

just kidding. I just bought one. After I interrogated every bookseller there; cuz let’s face it. Reading preferences change regionally and there might be a book I’d not considered reading, right?

And voila! An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine.

Love!!!!! it!!!!

And? It happens to fit into the 2015 Diversity Reading Challenge! How’s that? Our heroine is from Beirut! I suspect the author might be from that region as well. I haven’t looked him up yet.

Of course, I’m not a big fan of reading electronic devices at the pool or beach, cuz I’m clumsy and spill stuff. But hey, if you trust yourself around a body of water with an expensive electronic device then more power to YA.

Plus if that’s the case, then you don’t need three books. Cuz, well, you prolly have like 3 million books on your device, like I do.



Books Children Lists

Books for Young Readers: Back to School Shopping List @SamiJoLien

It’s back to school time! By now most of the kiddos should be starting school and beginning to adjust to the daily grind.  They are also probably ready for more books, right? After all, summer reading projects are over and now they need something new to read. I’ve made a collage to offer some suggestions.
BTSJKS Collage
 Hey how did I get in there? (snicker) Never you mind! Check out the information below to grab your copy of each book:
I can’t WAIT to find out what you think about the cicada book.  Now get SHOPPING!

Surviving Summer Vacation by @kathilipp

Surviving Summer Vacation

Surviving Summer Vacation by Kathi Lipp

I came across this little gem on Netgalley (LOVE) and it was a great quick read so I thought I’d share it with you.  The subtitle of the ebook is just as great as the title: Plans and Prayers for a Mom’s Sanity.  Isn’t that great? With families being busier than ever, summer  can sometimes be overwhelming. The kids get a break from school but yet Mom still has a long list of chores to get done and now she has to juggle the kids into that mix.  It can be stressful.

Here are some of Kathi’s tips that I thought were great:

  • Plant a pizza garden, “marinara based meals all summer long” and dinner? SMART!
  • Create experiences that Mom wants to participate in too, so it’s not drudgery for her as well. GENIUS
  • Summer screen time. Set limits. GO PLAY
  • Book club where “no one gets in trouble if they don’t read the book one month” MY KINDA CLUB
  • Create a home library: buy books at thrift stores and garage sales.
  • Develop a home reading program with prizes and games.

I LOVE these bookish ideas! I would add: make a special reading nook. I like reading in a comfy couch by a window with pillows but wouldn’t an outdoor tent or fort be fun too? Maybe a treehouse?

Check this book out. It’s a quick read and you might find something in it for yourself! What’s one bookish activity your family enjoys during the summer?


No Summer Slide Reading Picks: Middle Grade


As promised, here’s my Summer Reading picks for middle grade/tweens.

Watch the video!


No Summer Slide Reading Picks: Young Adult



If you’re looking for my picks for  the Young Adult No Summer Slide Reading List, look no further.  Watch this video to see my picks!


Summer Reading Challenge For Adults. I’m so IN. What about you?


Summer Reading CHALLENGE

Sign up!

I did!



Books Children

The Upshot: Finding Hidden Treasures

While chatting with relatives this weekend, I discovered an unused pile of books I had gifted my husband. (side eye)

Have you ever discovered a pile of unread books? What did you find?

Books Children

Tween Book Club We Are Not Eaten by Yaks by C Alexander London

We Are Not Eaten by YaksThis month at my tween book club we discussed We Are Not Eaten by Yaks which is a fun middle grade tale of twins Oliver and Celia Navel written by C Alexander London.  Their parents are famous explorers but all the twins want to do is sit at home and watch hours and hours of mindless TV.  The best part about the book is the witty dialogue that any kid with a sense of humor will get! Here’s an example of my fave:

Maybe Dr. Navel was tired from all the travel? Another suggested. What’s that called? Jet Lag?

It’s not jet lag, the leader said.

It could be jet lag. You don’t know.

Did you poison his stew?


You weren’t supposed to poison his stew.

I couldn’t remember whose stew to poison so I poisoned all the stews.

That wasn’t the plan at all! The witch walked over to Dr. Navel and lifted his hand up, then dropped it again.  You put enough poison in his stew to bring down a bear, she said.

Why would I want to poison a bear?

You wouldn’t want to poison a bear.

Then why did you say that?

Just to make my point.

I’ve already forgotten your point.

You get everything wrong.  You cant even cook properly!

My cooking is delicious!

Isn’t that back and forth hysterical? I love that the author appreciates that kids want to laugh but yet don’t need to be hit in the head with overly corny jokes.  I laughed out loud at that part.

At our book club, I try to plan some fun things so the club seems more like fun and less like school.  I try to have an activity for them to do while we’re waiting for everyone to show up.  Then the smoothies arrive! Yay! I forgot to mention the best part: the very generous and lovely author sent us book marks AND signed book plates, woot!!

Yesterday we had a Twitter party.  I was surprised at how many of them knew what Twitter was!  I printed a quyaksoldote onto poster board. In fact, it was the quote above.  Then I wrote a comment about what I liked about the book.  Their job was to write down something they liked about the book: a quote, a character, WHATEVER. AND they could comment on someone else’s comment while they were there.  Armed with colored sharpies, they copied text from the book, commented, and were eager to discuss the book, just like at a Twitter party!

To be sure, Yaks is a long book.  It’s quite longer than Lemonade War and I was concerned that the kids might lose interest because it was too long or too difficult.  They handled the book BRILLIANTLY!

To wrap up I gave the kids a scavenger hunt.  They had to find a book title (preferably in the kids’ section) of a biography, a picture book, a book made into a movie, etc.  It was great fun to see them run around the bookstore so excitedly!

I can’t wait for next month’s book, The Lightning Thief!

Have you read We Are Not Eaten by Yaks? What did you think of it? Have you read anything by C Alexander London?  p.s.  I’ll be reading his YA book soon. stay tuned!



How I Choose Books

How I choose books, the uncomplicated version.

I read books according to what interests me.  Looking back on my reading history I tend to read books that:

  • Are on the Newberry list or any other award list
  • Are about to come out as a movie
  • My kids read and look interesting
  • Other people have suggested
  • Just look interesting

I am constantly on the prowl for a new book to read and I scour garage sales, thrift stores, used book stores, and other people’s bookshelves for books.  I am not against approaching a stranger and asking them about the book they are reading. Don’t be alarmed, I’m harmless, just a book lover! Anyway, I’ve decided to come up with a plan for my reading for the next few months.

My (tentative) reading plan is as follows: through the end of summer I will continue to read award winning authors.  In the fall I think I will attempt the banned books list. Meantime I may toss in an odd book here or there based on other book lovers.  I also read adult fiction and have a big stack of those to read too. One day, one day (sigh).

Here is what I’m planning to read next, in no particular order:

  • The Road to Paris, Nikki Grimes
  • The Silver Chair, CS Lewis (working my way through this series)
  • Walk Two Moons, Sharon Creech (I think this is a re-read)
  • The Wanderer, Sharon Creech

Remember, I am ALWAYS open to suggestions so please send some my way!


What’s on my nightstand, summer vacation edition

I generally read different types of books in the summer. This is when I usually choose a few “chick lit” books to read: like Jennifer Weiner or the Shopaholic series or the Twilight Series or something. This year I’m trying something different and I want to know what you’re reading cuz I need suggestions.

Tell me what you’re reading!