Featured Post: Supplemental Materials

I was hoping to have actual trade books read to recommend this month,, but that did not happen.  So for this post, I want to talk about a couple of items that I’ve had a chance to look at and will be using in my homeschooling adventures.


The Scary States of America

The Scarey States of America by Michael Teitelbaum 

July 24, 2007 – Delacorte Books for Young Readers

I found this at the annual clearance sale that Half Price Books puts on.  I picked this up because I came up with a great way to use this to teach local geography. There’s a story about something weird or scary for every state in the US. Instead of using  only a map to learn the US geography, I thought that learning a local tale would make learning the states a little more interesting. While I haven’t read all of the stories, I have an idea for a game. (When that is finalized, I’ll be glad to share it. )


Discovery Kids Travel Through the Amazing World of Wild Animals: Discover the Facts! Do the Activities!

Discovery Kids Travel Through the Amazing World of Wild Animals: Discover the Facts! Do the Activities!

This is just one of the many books on many different topics that Discovery Kids has available. There’s a factivity book for Dinosaurs, Space  and loads of other topics.  For this particular book, the pictures are fun and engaging. The activities are simple but relevant and fun.  I do plan on getting more of these books, I found this one at Ollie’s, a local bargain store.


Do you have any supplemental materials that you have come to love or have unexpectedly encountered?

Always Shine!





Featured Post: Science -Professor Astro Cats Flying Eye Books

I had requested one of these books, digitally, for review, but I had trouble with the download. After talking with a representative from Flying Eye Books and talked to them about why I had selected the title for review, they offered to send me print copies of the requested titles and a couple of others. I was very happy to receive these books, even more when I saw that they are quality books.

Professor Astro Cat's Frontiers of Space

Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space by Dr. Dominic Walliman and Ben Newman

(Professor Astro Cat)

November 26, 2013

I received a copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion. 

This book gives an overview of space. It condenses a lot of information into bite size pieces. It is illustrated with engaging and fun photos. Astro Cat is the astronaut that leads you through the book. This books covers all things space, from the solar system to constellations to space exploring milestones. This makes venturing into space fun and curious instead of daunting.

Professor Astro Cat's Solar System

Professor Astro Cat’s Solar System by Dr. Dominic Walliman and Ben Newmand

(Professor Astro Cat)

March 13, 2018

I was given a copy of this book, free, in exchange for  my honest opinion. 

In this Professor Astro Cat Adventure, you are exploring just the solar system.  Professor Astro Cato begins with an overview of the solar system as a whole, and then visits each planet.  With each stop at planets, bites of information is given. Again the pictures are fun and engaging. The text is presented as bites instead of big chunks.

Professor Astro Cat's Intergalactic Activity Book

Professor Astro Cat’s Intergalactic Activity Book by Zelda Turner and Ben Newman 

(Professor Astro Cat)

December 13, 2016

I was given a copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion. 

This is an activity book that can be used with the other Professor Astro Cat books. All of the activities are science and space related. But they allow the child to work on a variety of skills from writing and decoding to drawing. There are experiments that can be done as well.

These are fun and engaging books. It is perfect for introducing these concepts to young people. Professor Astro Cat is the guide throughout the series, so it’s fun to find him through out the pages.  While, my son is too young for these books, I enjoyed them and I am sure he will as well in a few years. When I opened these books, he took them from me and flipped through the pages looking at the pictures and pointed out the pictures and everything that he could identify.

These books will be best enjoyed elementary age children, I would say second or third grade or above. Not only are they fun and informative, they are a great addition to any library.


Always Shine!


Favorites of the Summer

May –


I read 22 things in May. This month my favorites were actually a couple of short stories that I read because they were Nebula Award nominees. Since they were short stories, I have 3.

Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies by Brooke Bolander

The City Born Great by N.K. Jemisin

Playing Nice With God’s BFavoowling Ball by N.K. Jemisin

Least Favorite-

The Wand in the Word by Leonard S. Marcus – This wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t very good either. My biggest complaint was the selection of authors interviewed.  I will admit the authors were amazing in their own rights, and all are pretty well known. But they also had pretty much the same thing to say.  I have read enough fantasy to know that there are quite a few authors with varied background to want more than this.


This was another good month.. I read a total of 18 books with 2 favorites and 1 very disappointing read.


Borderline by Mishell Baker

Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

Least Favorite

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

July —

I read 16 books this month, and honestly I enjoyed them all. Except one, and that one wasn’t bad, it was pretty middle of the road.


The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee

The Crown of Embers and The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson


I read 13 books, there were a couple of stand outs, but most of the reading was just ok.


Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows

Least Favorite

When Love Matters Most by Kate James.

So far in September, I have finished 5 books ( these are books that I had started prior to the new month) and DNF’d 1. I am optimistic about this month because I am finishing up a few series that I have enjoyed tremendously and I am positive that the authors will not disappoint.


What have been some of yor favorite reads this summer?


Always Shine!

Summer Goals Check In

Yes I know that I keep switching from monthly to quarterly and now seasonally. I’ll get it together one day. Let’s just see how I did. I enjoyed most of what I read, so I’m happy about that.

The Goals I Aimed For:

#offmybookshelf –21


Complete a Series –3

Awards/List — All of the Nebula Nominees  —

Black Writers Matter–6

This is How I Did and the Stats:

Books Read –>68

Audio –>5

Print –>38

Digital –>25


Library –> 16

#offmybookshelf –>28 (Yay!)

#kindlecleanup –> 4 (I’m working on it)

Series Completed –> 3 (Yay!)

Series DNF’d –> 2

Black Writers Matter–> 6 (Yay!)

Awards/List –> I have finished reading all of the Nebula Nominess except for 2.

I will be doing a separate post about the Awards/List books that I have read, mainly because I am changing the awards that I’m reading and the way that I am doing it. But I am completely happy with this number. I plan on reading the other 2 nominees this month, so I am not too far from completing this goal.

Goals for the Rest of the Year:

#offmybookshelf –> 30

#kindlecleanup –>8

Series –>5

Awards/List –> 8

Black Writers Matter –> 6

Upcoming Posts:

Awards/List Reading Check-In

Favorites of the Summer

Featured Review #1

Always Shine!




Blog Tour Review with a Giveaway: Ban This Book by Alan Gratz


Ban This Book


Ban This Book by Alan Gratz

September 5, 2017 -Starscape

5 Stars 

I was given a copy of this book, free, in exchange for my honest opinion. 


An inspiring tale of a fourth-grader who fights back when her favorite book is banned from the school library–by starting her own illegal locker library!

It all started the day Amy Anne Ollinger tried to check out her favorite book in the whole world, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, from the school library. That’s when Mrs. Jones, the librarian, told her the bad news: her favorite book was banned! All because a classmate’s mom thought the book wasn’t appropriate for kids to read.

Amy Anne decides to fight back by starting a secret banned books library out of her locker. Soon, she finds herself on the front line of an unexpected battle over book banning, censorship, and who has the right to decide what she and her fellow students can read.

Reminiscent of the classic novel Frindle by Andrew Clements for its inspiring message, Ban This Book is a love letter to the written word and its power to give kids a voice.

My Thoughts:
I really liked this book. It was a pretty quick read, but it held so much. Amy Anne is quiet, and does what is asked of her (regardless of how she feels). She sticks to herself and dives into books.  But when her favorite book is banned from her school library,  Amy Anne comes out of her shell and soon learns to let the world see her as she truly is.
 Yes, this is about banned books. But there is more as Amy Anne, along with friends, finds ways to fight back against the books being banned. It is not easy and it is not comfortable. Amy Anne stands up to the challenge and grows into a much different person. It’s because of this that makes this such an awesome book. There is also the discussion about the right way and wrong way to protest. Amy Anne learns this because their are her consequences for what she does.One of the other things that I liked is that Amy Anne has the opportunity to get revenge on her enemy (the mom getting all of the books banned), but she doesn’t take it. When she finally stands up for herself and what she believes in, she does it with compassion and respect.
Alan Gratz

Alan Gratz‘s first novel, Samurai Shortstop, was named one of the ALA’s 2007 Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults. His second novel, Something Rotten, was a 2008 ALA Quick Pick for Young Adult Readers, and was followed by a sequel, Something Wicked, in October 2008. His first middle grade novel, The Brooklyn Nine, was one of the ALA’s Top Ten Sports Books for Youth and Top Ten Historical Books for Youth, and his middle grade Holocaust novel Prisoner B-3087 was one of YALSA’s 2014 Best Fiction for Young Readers and has won seven state awards. His latest novels are the YA thriller Code of Honor, a YALSA 2016 Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, and The Monster War, the third book in his middle grade steampunk League of Seven trilogy.

Alan’s short fiction has appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, online at Tor.com, and in the anthologies Half-Minute Horrors and Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction, which benefitted victims of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.

As the first Artist in Residence at the American School in Japan in 2010, Alan spent six weeks teaching historical fiction-writing to middle school students in Tokyo, and he was the Thurber House Children’s Writer in Residence in 2011, living and writing in James Thurber’s attic for a month while working with young writers from all around the Columbus, Ohio area.

In addition to writing plays, magazine articles, and a few episodes of A&E’s City Confidential, Alan has taught catapult-building to middle-schoolers, written more than 6,000 radio commercials, sold other people’s books, lectured at a Czech university, and traveled the galaxy as a space ranger. (One of these, it should be pointed out, is not true.)
Alan was born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee, home of the 1982 World’s Fair. After a carefree but humid childhood, Alan attended the University of Tennessee, where he earned a College Scholars degree with a specialization in creative writing, and, later, a Master’s degree in English education. He now lives with his wife Wendi and his daughter Jo in the high country of Western North Carolina, where he enjoys playing games, eating pizza, and, perhaps not too surprisingly, reading books.

Photo Credit: Wes Stitt

The Giveaway: Click here to enter!
Always Shine!

Books I Want My Kids to Read-August Picks

Each Month I plan on reading some books specifically for my kids, as I decide what I want to keep in their library and what I want to re-home.  But as I go through my own reading I may come across some books that I want to hang on, not just for re-reading but to also pass down to my kids.

These are my August picks:

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo  The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns, #1)

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (Logans, #4)  One Crazy Summer (Gaither Sisters, #1)

Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas, #1)

  1. The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee – everyone is probably tired of me talking about this book. But, I really liked it. I want to keep it to re-read, as well as pass it on to my kids because of the message in the book.  Genie Lo is a badass heroine in this story.  She has a strained relationship with her mother and is trying to get to know her father. She is doing well in school, and aims to maintain her studies despite the added pressure of being a superhero. She is capable. She is not white. She is strong, smart and funny. She is real, without having to exaggerate or overlook anything.
  2. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson- Elisa is a princess. But your normal princess, she is dark skinned and starts out with her being overweight. She is okay with that as well as honest about her relationship  with food. Throughout the series, this changes. She stands up to every challenge that she faces regardless of how she feels about it, whether or not it’s hard or scary.
  3. 3. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Milda Harris- I remember reading this and it leaving an impression. This is actually a book that I read a year or so ago, but I kept it knowing that I would read it again to my kids. It talks about racial issues, and its relevant with its history as well as impact for today.
  4. One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams Garcia- I love Delphine’s voice, and seeing the world through her eyes. She is a kid on the cusp of being a teenager. She is that nice balance between being innocent and curious. She makes some very astute observations based on her experience and what she has come to know and believe about the world and people.
  5. Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova – Alexa makes a mistake, it’s tied between a mix of wanting to protect her family and not fully accepting herself.  Despite this, and her fears, she stands up to face an enemy she didn’t believe. In the process she learns about herself, her family and her history. It is so much more than she thought it was. One of things that I love most, is that she discovers (and is told) that she is enough without her magic. She finds out that she’s stronger than she thought that she was, she learns to appreciate her magic, her family and her history.


Always Shine!