Summer Reads 2017

Here’s just a list of fun and/or interesting-but-not-tedious reads for long vacation drives and warm summer days. We’ve categorized them (somewhat) for a quick perusal based on reader interest. We hope you’ll find some you enjoy! 

Editor’s Pick*

TMGTruly, Madly Guilty, by Liane Moriarty (Genre: Fiction)
Three couples gather for an afternoon barbecue and find their lives permanently altered. So what in the world happened at the barbecue? I (Natalie) couldn’t put down Truly, Madly Guilty until the author answered this question. Moriarty teases out the details in a somewhat maddening, but incredibly suspenseful way. That’s why this is my summer read choice. You won’t be bored reading it by the pool or on the beach. Continue reading

World Book Day – A “Must-Read” List

It’s World Book Day today, so we just quickly want to give you the book that we each recommend to people the most. 

Natalie: The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield 
Every once in a while I read a book that I wish I could experience for the first time over and over again. This book ranks among my favorite mystery novels simply because of the author’s ability to craft beautiful sentences – and the surprising twist at the end.


Meg: Celia Garth, by Gwen Bristow – This is the book that has it all: history (Revolutionary War era), drama, war, love, spies, a beloved setting (dear Charleston), and a smart and sassy heroine. I’ve yet to have anyone tell me they didn’t love this book.
Note: reading a 1st edition copy makes it even better. 😊img_9373

AB: The Staff and the Sword Series – For fans of the LOTR or The Wheel of Time series, this debut series by Patrick W. Carr (a high school math teacher from Tennessee) is an excellent addition.  I love the deep character development and the intricate plot. These qualities and many more contribute to the epic nature of this series. Start with the first book, called A Cast of Stones.


Reading Challenge Update – Natalie recaps 5 new reads 

A couple of weeks ago, my family of five expanded to a family of six – and busy is our new phase. But before that event, I was trying to get through a big chunk of my 2017 reading list. My list included 24 books, and I’ve managed to make it 1/3 of the way through. Since my reading time is limited, I chose books that I thought had the best chance of making it to the finished pile rather than the discarded pile. So far, 7 out of 8 have been big winners, so read on to find out more. Continue reading

2017 Book Challenge (with so many book ideas)

by Meg

Last year, Tim Challies (a favorite blogger of mine) posted a reading challenge for his followers, with leveLogo_FrenchPressls of reading goals (like “Light Reader,” “Avid Reader,” etc.) and categories of books. I really, really wanted to take the challenge. But in typical Emma Woodhouse fashion, I started out with great plans, but made little headway as far as the chart went.

I did, however, find a few book friends and start a book blog.

And that has gotten me reading in a more disciplined way again. So for this upcoming year, 2017, I’m going to take a modified challenge from Challies’s idea chart. What I’ve listed for you all below is my combined list of books I read LAST YEAR highlighted in blue (ideas for you), and books for me to read THIS YEAR highlighted in red. And that way it fills out almost all of the categories. All books have links so you can read the synopises online (and see if the covers catch your eye). Books that we’ve reviewed this past year also have links to the articles.  Continue reading

The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared

By Alice Ozma                                       Genre: Memoir
Reviewed by Natalie                                   5/5 stars

The Reading Promise recounts Alice Ozma’s and her father’s initial commitment to read for 100 days, for at le61Z-6Eh-afL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ast ten minutes each time. They celebrate their accomplishment with pancakes and decide to continue The Streak, reading for 1,000 days and ultimately continuing until they reach 3,218 days. Their book journey ends the day Alice begins college. (NOTE: Be sure to read the foreword by Alice’s father about how it all began.)

The Reading Promise
is about a commitment to read, yes, but it is even more so about a beautiful relationship between a father and daughter. Alice and her father read through every event, tumultuous and otherwise, in a pre-teen and then teenage girl’s life. The Streak was a chance to take a break from the stress and chaos of everyday life, to escape into wonderful worlds together.
Continue reading

Interview with Alice Ozma, author of The Reading Promise

Reading promise_Alice Ozma


It’s been five years since your book was published. How has that changed your life and your career?

It would be harder to guess what would have happened if this hadn’t – I was 22 when I wrote the book. The book deal came while I was taking my finals in college. So I have no idea what path I’d have taken otherwise. This was the seed that planted my career. Teaching was on my radar, and so were non-profits, but I definitely was not down any path yet.

Which chapter did you enjoy writing the most and why?

I loved writing the first chapter. Each chapter begins with a quote from a book my father and I shared, and my dad actually found those. He reread everything we’d read together and underlined things. The quote he found for the first chapter (see below) just really spoke to me in its simplicity, and the chapter flowed from there. I recently visited a high school and a student had made a poem from that quote. So clearly I’m not the only one who loved it.

“I am terribly afraid of falling, myself,” said the Cowardly Lion, “but I suppose there is nothing to do but try it. So get on my back and we will make the attempt.”

L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz-

What has been the most memorable response from a Reading Promise fan?

This past Christmas, a woman wrote me a card and included a check. She said she loved the relationship I had with my dad. Her own father had passed and she said all she wanted to do was have lunch with him one more time, so she was giving my dad and me lunch money to go spend some quality time together. I donated that money, but we went out to lunch that weekend. We were both very touched. Continue reading