In My Library Tote: August Books for Mom and Toddler

Another month, another list of books that Jona and I have been enjoying. Keep reading to see what I thought of August's books.

{recent reads for mom}

Looking for a good book? Here are a few that I've recently read and enjoyed. Keep reading to hear my thoughts and see which one I recommend the most.

{Before We Visit the Goddess by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni} In her youth in India, Sabitri longed to get an education, but instead she wound up in a troubled marriage. She pours herself into the sweets shop she owns, but often at the expense of spending time with her daughter Bela. Bela eventually grows up and falls in love with a political refugee, and together they flee to the United States. The reality of being so far from home sets in, and their marriage is also on shaky ground. They have a daughter, Tara, and as an adult she follows in her mother’s footsteps and estranges herself from her family. The complex, full lives of these three generations of women fill this surprisingly compact novel. 
     Worth the read? Yes. It was well written, and Divakaruni did a good job weaving in the complicated relationship between mothers and daughters throughout the story. That being said, it’s not one that really stuck with me or that I could see myself reading again. For me it was a solid 3 star GoodReads ranking. 

{Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes} This one checked my “non-fiction” box, which is one I struggle to cross off my list. However, I’d heard that the audio version was fantastic, as Shonda herself narrates it. I am glad I followed that advice, as it was like listening to a funny, wise friend I didn’t know I had. Shonda (the writer for Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder...aka the queen of Thursday night television), shares how making the decision to say “yes” to the things she was once too afraid of dramatically changed her life for the better. 
     Worth the read? Yes, and I’d definitely recommend listening to it. I tend to like my non-fiction to either read like a novel, or offer practical “take home” tips, and this one didn’t really do either. However, it is clear why she’s such a successful television writer--she has the ability to suck you into whatever it is she’s talking about. (My rating - 3.5/5 stars)

{The Likeness by Tana French} I was already a fan of Tana French’s gripping Dublin Murder Squad series, but this is one I hadn’t yet picked up. I admit that I had serious doubts about the premise of this one: a detective resembles a murder victim so closely that she goes undercover as that victim (claiming she survived, of course) in order to catch the killer. Yet despite my misgivings, French once again sucked me right in with her excellent storytelling. 
     Worth the read? Yes, this one was my favorite of the month. Although I still don’t feel like a true crime/detective novel connoisseur, French’s novels haven’t let me down yet. The only reason I would give it 3.5 instead of 4 stars is, in spite of the skillful writing, I still found the undercover situation (just the idea, not the way it unfolds) a little too preposterous. In no way would that keep me from recommending it though.   

{The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom} Lavinia, a young white Irish girl who loses her family during her passage to America, is taken in by a wealthy family who owns a plantation in Virginia. She’s placed in the care of Belle, the master’s illegitimate slave daughter, as an indentured servant, and Belle’s family cares for her as one of their own. However, despite Lavinia’s desires to fit in with her adopted family, the fact that she resembles the slave-owners rather than the slaves themselves becomes increasingly difficult to ignore. 
     Worth the read? Yes, but break out the tissues. I won’t give any specific spoilers, but Grissom piles on the tragedies and rarely lets up. I certainly wasn’t expecting a cheerful tale, but in the end it was all a bit too much for me. I found it good enough, though, that I do want to read the sequel, Glory Over Everything. (My rating - 3.5/5 stars)

{No One Knows by J. T. Ellison} In this dark and twisty mystery, Aubrey Hamilton is still grieving the loss of her husband, who disappeared without a trace 5 years ago. The state officially declares him dead, but rather than getting closure, several things happen in Aubrey’s life that make her question what happened even more. 
     Worth the read? Sure. It was fast-paced and intriguing, and I did find myself wanting to read on to find out more. Yet I wasn’t thrilled with the ending, it felt a little abrupt to me. (My rating - 3/5 stars) 

{recent reads for the toddler}

It can be overwhelming to go to the library with your toddler, but here are a few books that come highly recommended by energetic toddler son. Keep reading to see which ones were his favorites.

{Chicken Soup by Jean Van Leeuwen} The farm animals are up in arms when they see the farmer's wife get her big soup pot out. They warn the chickens, but Little Chickie, who has a cold, keeps giving away their hiding place when she sneezes. When the farmer finally catches her, everyone is surprised by what happens in the farmer's kitchen. 
     Toddler approved? Yes, this is one that Jona picked himself, and I was surprised by how much he enjoyed it. It was a cute, sweet story. 

{Chu's Day at the Beach by Neil Gaiman} I believe that Jenn from What You Make It mentioned her toddler was enjoying this one, so I decided to pick it up. Chu and his family go to the beach, but their trip nearly ends in disaster after Chu lets out a monstrous sneeze. All the animals try to get Chu to sneeze again so that things will go back to normal, but can they do it? 
     Toddler approved? Yes, thanks for the recommendation Jenn! We read this one just about every night, and Jona was entertained by both the story and all the details in the beach illustrations. 

{Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion} In this classic children's book, Harry is a white dog with black spots who hates getting a bath. He gets so dirty that he becomes a black dog with white spots, and his family doesn't recognize him anymore. He knows that in order to prove that he's their beloved Harry, he has to give in and do the thing he hates. 
     Toddler approved? Yes, while it wasn't an every-nighter, Jona did enjoy this book. I vaguely remember it from childhood too. 

{Chicken in Space by Adam Lehrhaupt} Zoey isn't like the other chickens; she has dreams of going to space. And as her friend Sam the pig says, "Zoey always finds a way." Somewhat reluctantly, and optimistically hoping there will be pie involved, Sam joins Zoey in her "outer space" adventure. 
     Toddler approved? Yes, very enthusiastically. I picked this up because Jona loves outer space and the planets, and so I wasn't sure he would like it when I realized that "outer space" in this story was just the sky... However, he surprised me by LOVING this one, and wanting to read it again and again. He had the thing nearly memorized by the time we had to return it. 

{Lion Lessons by Jon Agee} In this story, a boy seeks to get his "lion diploma" from a professional lion. The lion takes him through the 7 steps of becoming a lion, but he's not very impressed with his student's abilities. However, when a dog threatens a nearby kitten, the boy's inner lion is revealed and his teacher can't help but award him his diploma. 
     Toddler approved? Oh yes. I wasn't sure we could beat Chicken in Space, but Lion Lessons won the "most-read" award this month. In fact, the night before I had to take it back to the library, Jona asked if he could read it with me. I wasn't sure what he meant, but he started reading and "read" the entire thing, only missing a few words here and there. He's done that before with short board books (we all had Little Blue Truck memorized for a while...), and definitely with big chunks of other stories, but that was the first one he completely memorized from start to finish. So it's safe to say that one was a hit.

What have you been reading lately? What do I need to add to our library cards? 

1 comment:

I really appreciate hearing from you!