Archive | December, 2018

Jólabókaflóð 2018

26 Dec


My Jólabókaflo∂ always starts on my birthday, December 23rd. This year, I received The Knitter’s Dctionary by Kate Atherley from my sister. I gave her Fab 4 Mania by Carol Tyler.


For Christmas, I received two books of short stories and a novel, The Deal of a Lifetime by Frederik Bachman,  Island by Alistair MacLeod, and Women Talking  by Miriam Toews.


I gave some good ones: Fear by Bob Woodward, Belonging  by Nora Krug , and The Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras.


I hope you also had a lovely Jólabókaflo∂. I’d love to hear what you gave and received.

This week’s Book Talks 12/17-21

21 Dec

I am looking forward to spending the next two weeks with my dog, Lucy, so this week was dog book week.


A Dog’s Life by Ann M. Martin



White Star by Marty Crisp



Sit, Stay, Love by J. J. Howard



See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng



A Dog in The Cave by Kay Frydenborg


Rebel Librarians, Unite!

19 Dec

My sister told me about a book that wasn’t even on my radar.


Although it has some classic debut novel imperfections, I loved it so much it is my current read aloud for my 6th graders, who can totally relate to June’s lack of control in her life, and her desire to do something slightly subversive.


Baking Nostalgia

18 Dec

This is the first Christmas with both my parents gone and It has made me a little nostalgic. I’ve been thinking about the mountain of Christmas cookies Mom used to make. Watching reruns of the Great British Baking Show, I’ve been thinking about fruit cake and Dad. He loved a good fruit cake. He sold and gifted Shriner’s fruitcakes, and I remember one year when Mom & Dad made one and it sat, wrapped in brandy soaked cheesecloth, in the fruit cellar in the months leading up to Christmas.

So, feeling nostalgic, I baked this weekend.

First, I made Mom’s “Sweet Marie Bars on Saturday.


Sweet Marie Bars 


1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 tbsp butter
2 cups Rice Krispies
1 cup salted peanuts
1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips


In a medium pot over medium-low heat melt peanut butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and butter; once melted allow to gently bubble.

Remove from heat and add Rice Krispies and salted peanuts. Mix well then press into a greased (I use butter) 8- or 9-inch square dish.

Pour semi-sweet chocolate chips onto the still-hot peanut layer and wait a minute for the chips to soften – then, as they melt, spread evenly to create a chocolate top layer. Let cool and cut into 20-25 squares before the chocolate gets too hard.

As tempted as I was to make a fruitcake, I took an easier route. A few years ago I discovered an excellent recipe from Ina Garten called “Fruitcake Cookies”.  They have everything I love about fruitcake, but are finished in hours, not months. I think Dad would have enjoyed them. I don’t think I can paste the recipe in here for copyright reason, but if you are interested, here is the link to the recipe. They are delicious.


Wishing you all the best for the holidays.


This week’s book talks 12/10-14

14 Dec


The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamoro by Pablo Cartaya




To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han



Untwine by Edwidge Danticat



The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten



Girl Rising by Tanya Lee Stone




2019 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award Finalists

13 Dec

As promised, here are the finalists for the 2019 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award. As with the Morris Award nominees, I’ve read all the titles. They, too, will be announced at the Youth Media Awards in Seattle. These authors will also present at the same ceremony as the Morris finalists.


  • The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor written by Sonia Sotomayor
  • Boots on the Ground: America’s War in Vietnam written by Elizabeth Partridge
  • The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler written and illustrated by John Hendrix
  • Hey, Kiddo:  How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt with Family Addictionwritten and illustrated by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
  • The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees written and illustrated by Don Brown

My heart is with Hey Kiddo,  which I wrote about here. I am also excited to see Faithful Spy on the list.

You can read more about all five finalists on the 2019 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award page.


2019 Morris Award Finalists Announced!

12 Dec

The William C. Morris YA Debut Award, first given in 2009, honors a book published by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature.  The winner is announced annually at the ALA Youth Media Awards with a shortlist of up to five titles named in early December.

For the first time ever, I have already read all of the Morris Award finalists before they were announced. Here they are:


  • Blood Water Paint written by Joy McCullough
  • Check, Please! written and illustrated by Ngozi Ukazu
  • Children of Blood and Bone written by Tomi Adeyemi
  • Darius the Great Is Not Okay written by Adib Khorram
  • What the Night Sings written and illustrated by Vesper Stamper

They are all fantastic books, but my heart is leaning towards Darius the Great Is Not Okay. But I’d also love to see Blood, Water, Paint,  a novel in verse, win. It is hard to know what the discussion about these five, very different books will be like, or say who will win. I will be at the Youth Media Awards in Seattle when the winner is announced on Monday, January 28th. I will also attend the awards presentation afterwards to celebrate  all five finalists and whichever book wins. You can read more about each book on YALSA”S Morris Award page.

Stay tuned the Nonfiction finalists should be announced soon.



Old and new traditions

11 Dec

“It smells like Christmas.”

Either Paul Hollywood or Mary Berry says this at least once a bake as I re-watch Christmas episodes of The Great British Baking Show Master Class. This is a new holiday tradition for me, as I came late to the GBBS game. But I’m all caught up now!

As I watch, I think of all the holiday bakes from my childhood and plan out some old and new things I’d like to bake this year. I am not doing any baking until this weekend. I have my annual physical on Thursday and I don’t want to be all sugared up before my blood test!

Seasonal tea has long been a part of my suite of holiday traditions. there are some old standbys, but I love discovering new ones. This year I have discovered two that are new to me. The first is Celestial Seasonings’ Cranberry Vanilla Wonderland. The second in Stash Tea’s Christmas in Paris.

The first blends cranberry, rooibos, hibiscus, cinnamon, and vanilla. The second swirls a chocolaty flavor with mint and lavender. Both are herbal blends, so I like to sip a cup in the evening as I knit that days portion of my Advent knitting project. And each of these teas make me echo Paul and Mary’s words, “It smells like Christmas” .

This week’s book talks 12/3-7

7 Dec

The week started of strangely as we began processing last Friday’s lockdown. Returning to the routine of the school day was remarkably helpful.


The Biggest Poutine in the World by André Poulin




Whatshisface by Gordon Korman



You Don’t know Everything, Jilly P! by Alex Gino



A Possibility of Whales by Karen Rivers



Guest Blogging at The Hub today

6 Dec

I’m guest blogging at The Hub today, where I talk about books inspired by Lucy Maud Montgomery and Anne of Green Gables. Click here to go on over to see what I got up to.

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