Books for Littles #3: ABC’S and 1,2,3’s

As a parent to a learning little, I’ve read a lot of alphabet and counting books over the past year. While I’ll read anything that strikes my little one’s fancy, let’s face it: not all learning books are created equal. There are a few things that I look for when I’m picking special alphabet or counting books to read to my toddler:

1. Are the numbers/letters easily visible and recognizable? You’d think it would go without saying that letters shouldn’t be written in a fancy script or in cursive when in an alphabet book, but you’d be surprised how often I’ve seen letters that are indecipherable to a little learner.

2. Is the book engaging? It doesn’t matter how great I think a book is, if my toddler isn’t interested, that kind of defeats the purpose of reading it to him in the first place.

3. Can I handle re-reading this book over and over without wanting to pull my hair out? This last one is a bit selfish, but I try really hard to avoid books that irritate me. Of course, if the toddler loves it, I suck it up.

That being said, these are the recent alphabet winners in our house:

An Annoying ABC written by Barbara Bottner illustrated by Michael Emberly 

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My little one loves the funny pictures and the cute storyline. I love that the letters are highlighted and each sentence flows into the next. It’s super cute and not annoying at all. Double points for using X in a name (Xavier)!

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Agent A to Agent Z by Andy Rash

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This book is hilarious. It keeps both myself and my toddler giggling. I could easily read this multiple times in a row (and I have) without resorting to trying to sneak in a little variety.

Alphabears by Kathleen and Michael Hague 

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Admission: this one is more for me than my little, although he also enjoys it. I read this one was I was small, so it’s a very special reading session when he picks this one

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin JR and John Archambault illustrated by Lois Ehlert 

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It seems there’s a reason this book is such a popular choice. Not only is there a cadence to it, making it easy for little ones to “read” along, this book does something a lot of other alphabet books don’t: it shows lower case letters. I used this book to teach both my kids their lower case letters, and it was easy as…

1,2,3 Books that we love:

The 1, 2, 3s of D&D by Ivan Van Norman and Caleb Cleveland 

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Surprise! I’m a huge nerd. My little nerd-in-training loves this fantastic book as much as I do. What makes this one so special? The wonderful illustrations combine to create a mini-adventure in counting. Also- there’s a reference to Raistlin, my favorite fantasy mage, on one of the pages which is awesome. I may have squealed when I saw it.

Star Wars Obi- 1,2,3 by Calliope Glass and Caitlin Kennedy illustrated by Katie Cook 

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This book has a lot going for it: not only are the illustrations adorable, but the rhymes for each number are fantastic. My favorite thing about this book, however, is that it goes up to 20, instead of stopping at 10.

Marvel Mighty Numbers

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Like most other youngsters, my little guy is obsessed with super heroes. He loves this book; not only can he identify all the numbers, but he happily names all the superheroes too. I love that the numbers are bright and colorful, very easy to see.

Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow

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My little one loves the bright pictures, and the funny noises I make every time a monkey hits its head. I love that the cadence (again with the cadence) makes it easy for him to “read” along, and that it counts backwards.

And there you have it, the current counting and alphabet favorites. What are some of the winners in your home/classroom?

Fragments by Toni Jordan- ARC Revew

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Inga Karlson died in a fire in New York in the 1930s, leaving behind three things: a phenomenally successful first novel, the scorched fragments of a second book―and a literary mystery that has captivated generations of readers.

Nearly fifty years later, Brisbane bookseller Caddie Walker is waiting in line to see a Karlson exhibition, featuring the famous fragments. A charismatic older woman quotes a phrase from the Karlson fragments that Caddie knows does not exist. Caddie is jolted from her sleepy life in 1980s Brisbane, and driven to uncover the truth about this fascinating literary mystery. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book, in exchange for my honest opinion. This will be available to purchase on September 10th.

There were many things that I liked about this book, and a few things that I didn’t.  Being a voracious reader, I understand bookish obsession, but I still had a hard time believing that Caddie would go through so much effort based on a few words that a stranger muttered at an exhibit. The reaction most people would have, I think, would be to think the older woman had simply misquoted the author. However, if you are able to suspend disbelief, the story moves along nicely.

It is a slower paced book than I expected, but I think that actually worked in its favor, giving the reader time to get to know the characters. The book had two storylines: that of Caddie, the zealous bookseller, whose storyline takes place in the late 80’s, and Rachel, whose storyline starts in the early 1920’s.

I preferred the parts about Rachel more, and from time to time I really wanted to tell Caddie to grow a spine.  I loved how important Inga Karlson’s book was to Caddie, though. I can absolutely relate to that feeling of a book being such an important part in someone’s life.

In this book the journey is greater than the destination in that it ended a bit abruptly. I would have liked it to have ended in a way that took a little more time and felt more natural. All told, however, this is an enjoyable read, one worth spending time on.

Here There Be Dragons: My Favorite Dragons in Literature

Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub

For those of you who don’t know me personally, let me say: I love dragons. As in, I have a collection of dragon-related paraphernalia that includes not only figurines and such whatnot, but a beautiful stained glass window dragon. So, when I saw this awesome post at , I had to get in on the fun.

Here are some of my absolute go-to’s when I’m needing a toothy fix:

The Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman: These are my favorite fantasy books ever. I’ve actually dog-eared my original copies so badly that I had to buy a second set and that’s saying something because I’m very, very careful with my books. Full of adventure, amazing characters, and of course, dragons, these books are a must-read for any fantasy reader. Incidentally, this series contains my favorite dragon in literature.

Image result for dragonlance chroniclesLifelong friends, they went their separate ways. Now they…

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World Book Day: celebrating the reading highlights of the year so far


We all know there’s a “day” for everything: garlic, bread, talking like a pirate…the list goes on. It just so happens that today is World Book Day. Yeah, I was unaware this was a thing too. However, it gives me the perfect excuse to talk about my favorite reads of 2019 so far.

It’s been a stellar start to my reading year. I’ve managed to read a lot more than expected, considering how busy my life gets. I also have started getting ARCs to read and discuss, which my nerdy reader self is incredibly excited for. Some of the books below are ARCs, meaning they aren’t available to purchase yet. However, I highly recommend either pre-ordering them or grabbing them when you see them on shelves. Everything in this post is fantastic!

The Oddmire Book 1: Changeling by William Ritter

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I can’t rave about this book enough. Intended for a slightly younger crowd, it is still highly enjoyable for adults. Read my post explaining what makes it so special here.

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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I’d heard about this book constantly for a while before deciding to pick it up. I didn’t think it could possibly live up to all the hype. Trust me, it does. Here’s what I had to say about that.

For the Love of Books: Stories of Literary Lives, Banned Books, Author Feuds, Extraordinary Characters, and More by Graham Tarrant

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The only thing I don’t like about the book is the ridiculously long title. The book itself is absolutely engrossing. If you’re a reader (and I assume you are if you take the time to read book blogs), this is one to read.

For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig

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I was already a fan of Heilig after reading The Girl From Everywhere, but this book is above and beyond. A hardcore main character in a fantasy book who has a mental illnes? Yes please!

No Country for Old Gnomes (The Tales of Pell #2) by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne

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This book is hilarious. I laughed so hard at parts, it was dangerous (gothic sweaters!). Pick it up.

Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto

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This was fantastic! The world is so well-realized, and the characters so interesting, adding phoenixes just served to elevate this author even further in my opinion. You can read my review of it here.

There you have it, the best books I’ve read so far this year. There are so many others that I’m looking forward to, as well as the unexpected gems I’m sure to come across. Help me find more to add to my very long tbr list: what are your favorites so far?

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance: A Novel by Ruth Emmie Lang

In this warm debut novel, Ruth Emmie Lang teaches us about adventure and love in a beautifully written story full of nature and wonder.

Orphaned, raised by wolves, and the proud owner of a horned pig named Merlin, Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance tells the story of Weylyn Grey’s life from the perspectives of the people who knew him, loved him, and even a few who thought he was just plain weird. Although he doesn’t stay in any of their lives for long, he leaves each of them with a story to tell. Stories about a boy who lives with wolves, great storms that evaporate into thin air, fireflies that make phosphorescent honey, and a house filled with spider webs and the strange man who inhabits it.

There is one story, however, that Weylyn wishes he could change: his own. But first he has to muster enough courage to knock on Mary’s front door. (taken from Amazon)

I had to post the Amazon blurb above because I have no idea how to summarize this book. And, honestly, the Amazon description doesn’t quite manage it either. But that’s simply because parts of this book are so odd that they defy any sort of explanation.

That’s not to say it’s a bad book. I really enjoyed it. It’s just so unique that it’s hard to put my thoughts into a coherent post. It was a very sweet story. Weylan, while the subject of the book, is more of the catalyst for what happens in everyone else’s life. He’s both wise and- in some ways- very naive. He sees things differently and carries his unique perspective with him everywhere he goes, changing lives in ways both small and large.

This book is narrated by the different people whose lives he’s wandered through. I especially liked reading his interactions with the outcast boy, Micah. They help each other, and I very much liked that it was a learning experience for both of them.

Aside from the unicorn pig (weird, right?), another thing that I found a little different about this book is its pacing. It meanders instead of feeling like there’s a set goal or storyline. Sometimes that was endearing. Other times it really annoyed me. I thought the first half of the book was fantastic, but I started to lose interest toward the end. The last little bit bordered on the saccharine, but the rest of the book was interesting enough that I still ended up enjoying it as a whole.

It’s not the best book I’ve read this year, but it’s a solid, sweet book, and I’m not averse to reading other books that the author may write.

Have you read this? What did you think?  Also- what was the point of the horned pig?

“I should have read that” Book Tag

I saw this tag on Mah’s blog. Check it out if you haven’t already! I truly love reading posts by so many bookish people! Without further ado, here are my answers:

  • Thank the person who tagged you, and link back to their post.
  • Link to the creator’s blog.
  • This was originally created by Beth from Books Nest.
  • Answer the questions below.
  • Tag 10 others to take part.

    A Book that a Certain Person is Always Telling You to Read-My husband is one of those ridiculously intelligent people. He loved E=MC2: A Biography of the World’s Most Famous Equation, but I was very intimidated by it. I’m planning on reading it eventually- it sounds fascinating- but I might have to ask him to explain it to me.

    A Book that has Been on Your To Be Read List Forever, that You Still haven’t Picked Up-I want to read The Radium Girls by Kate Moore. I know it’s one that I’ll only read once, so I’m waiting for my library to get it, instead of buying it.

    A Book in a Series that You’ve Started, But Haven’t Finished-A Gathering of Shadows by Victoria Schwab. It’s the second in a series, the first being A Darker Shade of Magic. I loved that one, but have yet to read the second. I have no idea why I haven’t gotten to it yet.

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    A Classic that You Always Liked the Sound of but I Haven’t Read-The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I quite enjoyed both This Side of Paradise and The Great Gatsby (this hipster reader says “I liked it before it was a movie!”, while pouting), but still need to read more of his.

    A book that inspired a film/TV adaptation that you really love, but you just haven’t read it yet-      Codename Villainelle by Luke Jennings. I absolutely love Killing Eve, the show that is inspired by the book series. I have to read the book because the show is so, so good!

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    A book you see all over Instagram, but haven’t picked up yet-     I don’t do the Instagram thing, but I keep seeing A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer all over Twitter. To be honest, I’m really not all that interested. I leave it to you, readers, to convince me to give it a go.

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    What about you? What are your answers to these questions? Weigh in!

The Oddmire book 1: Changeling by William Ritter- ARC Review

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Magic is fading from the Wild Wood. To renew it, goblins must perform an ancient ritual involving the rarest of their kind—a newborn changeling. But when the fateful night arrives to trade a human baby for a goblin one, something goes terribly wrong. After laying the changeling in a human infant’s crib, the goblin Kull is briefly distracted from his task. By the time he turns back, the changeling has already perfectly mimicked the human child. Too perfectly: Kull cannot tell them apart. Not knowing which to bring back, he leaves both babies behind.

Tinn and Cole are raised as human twins, neither knowing what secrets may be buried deep inside one of them. Then when they are twelve years old, a mysterious message arrives, calling the brothers to be heroes and protectors of magic. The boys must leave behind their sleepy town of Endsborough and risk their lives in the Wild Wood, crossing the perilous Oddmire swamp and journeying through the Deep Dark to reach the goblin horde and discover who they truly are. (taken from Amazon)

                                        Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This will be available to purchase on July 16th.

After reading and loving William Ritter’s adult series, the first of which is titled Jackaby, I was desperate to get my hands on this book as soon as possible. And I am so, so glad that I was able to! It’s fantastic. There isn’t a single thing that could possibly have been improved.

I love that the main characters are twins, but each has a very distinct personality. While both boys were great characters, I have a soft spot for Tinn. His sweet, anxious nature reminds me very much of my oldest child. I also loved their mom, who goes charging in to the Oddmire after her boys, exactly as any caring mom would do.

The main characters are easy to relate to, and the storyline is wonderful. There are fantastical creatures aplenty (Hinkypunks! How cool is that?), danger around every turn, and a subtle, but sweet message about being who you are- no matter what.

I could go into all the reasons a parent or teacher should love this book: it talks about feeling like you don’t belong, conquering your fears, and that those differences are gifts.  Each twin sees good things in the other that the other hasn’t realized about himself, which is something that I think a lot of people do; they tend to think everyone else has everything figured out. I could talk about how the book doesn’t talk down to its intended age group, how it showcases the power of love.

Or I could just talk about how amazingly fun this book is! I’ll be buying a copy for my son, and I encourage every child (or child-at-heart) who enjoys a good fantasy to pick this book up.

The Big Book of Classic Fantasy edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer- ARC Review

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion.  This will be available to purchase on July second.

In case it isn’t painfully obvious based on my other blog posts, I love fantasy of every kind. I was so excited to delve into this collection of stories, some that are well-known to me, and many others that I read for the first time.

And let me tell you; this selection is vast. The editors went through a ton of effort to gather a varied representation of an enormous genre. There were the usual culprits: the Bros. Grimm, Tolkein, Hans Christian Andersen. It was great to see them all gathered in one place. But what makes this book stand out are the surprising contributions: Louisa May Alcott, Tolstoy, and even Kafka made appearances.

I loved that there are stories from all over the world. It was fantastic to see the differences- and similarities- between the fantastical tales. It took me longer than I expected to finish this book, simply because there’s so much to digest and I didn’t want to rush it. This is a book to be savored, one that I would recommend owning so that you can return to it time and again.

The 80’s Movie Tag

I saw this tag on paperroyalty’s blog , which you should definitely check out, if you haven’t already. I just finished listening to the theme from The Breakfast Club, so it seems appropriate to write this post now. Here goes:

 Nightmare on Elm Street: A Book that Kept You Up All Night-

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I had the hardest time putting this one down, it’s so incredibly well-written! Read my review here.

The Princess Bride: A Wonderfully Quotable Book-

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If you haven’t read this book, you are missing out. It’s beautiful, heart-wrenching, and inspirational. My next tattoo will feature a quote from this book: “So this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad, and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”
It’s going to be a very large tattoo. Ha ha!

Ferris Beuller’s Day Off: A Character Who Loves Breaking the Rules-

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The musketeers (plus D’Artagnan) have a rather contemptuous attitude towards the rules. They do meet during an illegal duel, after all.

4. When Harry Met Sally: A Book Couple that Took Forever to Get Together-

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Ron and Hermione took their sweet time, didn’t they?

Back to the Future: A Book Involving Time Travel- 

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I don’t read too books that involve time travel, because they have a tendency to feature some glaring plot holes, but I did read  A Map of Days not too long ago.

Pretty in Pink: A Character With a Unique Style-

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I have to go with the incorrigible Amelia Peabody. Sharply-pointed parasols aside, she also ends up wearing a belt with all kinds of “useful” items hanging from it, constantly clanking. By the way, this series is a blast to read.

The Karate Kid: A Book Involving the Mentor/Student Trope: 

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This is the most recent book I’ve read with a focus on the mentor trope. It’s a slower-moving fantasy, which I actually really enjoyed. I guess that’s a rather unpopular opinion, though.

Die Hard: A Book With a Trip that Doesn’t Go According to Plan- 

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I just started reading this yesterday. I can say with confidence, though, that Magnus was not planning on chasing down a murderous cult (that he may have started as a joke) while on a romantic getaway.

Indiana Jones and The Raiders of the Lost Ark: A Book With the Main Character’s Name in the Title- 

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This book belongs on your shelf, filed under “emotionally devastating books”. It’s available to purchase on the 16th. The books is told from Lenny’s point of view. 

Dirty Dancing: A Female Character Who Came Out of Her Shell-

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I read this to see what all the hubbub was about. Meh. It’s not my thing, but if you enjoy it, more power to ya.

E.T: An Ending that Left You Both Happy and Sad-

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The ending is perfect, as is the rest of the book, but why did it have to come so soon? I wasn’t ready to re-enter the real world! I wish I could read this incredible book for the first time all over again.

What books would be on your 80’s list?

The World of Lore: Dreadful Places by Aaron Mahnke

         Sometimes you walk into a room, a building, or even a town, and you feel it. Something seems off—an atmosphere that leaves you oddly unsettled, with a sense of lingering darkness. Join Aaron Mahnke, the host of the popular podcast Lore, as he explores some of these dreadful places and the history that haunts them.
Mahnke takes us to Colorado and the palatial Stanley Hotel, where wealthy guests enjoyed views of the Rocky Mountains at the turn of the twentieth century—and where, decades later, a restless author would awaken from a nightmare, inspired to write one of the most revered horror novels of all time. Mahnke also crosses land and sea to visit frightful sites—from New Orleans to Richmond, Virginia, to the brooding, ancient castles of England—each with its own echoes of dark deeds, horrible tragedies, and shocking evil still resounding.
Filled with evocative illustrations, this eerie tour of lurid landmarks and doomed destinations is just the ticket to take armchair travelers with a taste for the macabre to places they never thought they’d visit in their wildest, scariest dreams. (taken from Amazon)

          This book was spooky fun! There were ghosts, unsubstantiated rumors, and eerie feelings aplenty, all layered over true historic events. Not only were there the “haunted houses,” but Mahnke also explored lost travelers, castles, tragedies blamed on wizards…basically any place that is rumored to have a dreadful past.

What sets this book apart, in my opinion, is the unbridled enthusiasm which Mahnke obviously put into both his research, and his writing. It shines through on every page, making what could be ye random book of ghost stories into an engaging commentary on the lore, we- as humans- create to explain the inexplicable or the horrible.

The book reads like a conversation with the author. At the risk of sounding like a terrible person (the book is, after all, about the macabre), I found it highly enjoyable. This isn’t a hide-under-the-covers sort of horror. It’s the sort of book that I’d read around a campfire while eating s’mores. That’s infinitely better, I think. I’ll be looking for the other two Lore books. If they’re half as good as this book was, I’m in for a dreadfully good time.

Have you read this book? What did you think?