2016 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge, Book Reviews

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

This book has been on my to-read list for quite a while. I had downloaded the Kindle book a while ago and when I logged on to Audible, I found I could get the audiobook for free since I had purchased the corresponding Kindle book. I am quite glad that I read the book. I added it to my list of books to read before you die. It quite an uplifting story and would be great for anyone to read.

The story follows 10 year old Miss Mary. She grew up in India with her parents until cholera wiped out her household. When she was little, she was raised by her nurse and was given anything she wanted. Everyone had to listen to her and do what she said. So when everyone was gone, she didn’t really know what to do. She was sent to live with her uncle in England. Her uncle was very hands off and left her to her own devices. Between her maid, the housekeeper, and a gardener, she slowly transitions from a spoiled, bored, sickly child to a rather independent, lively child who enjoys gardening. She is encouraged by everyone to spend as much time outdoors to improve her health and strength. She meets Dicken, her maid’s brother who has a strong affinity for animals and talking to him helps her see the world differently. She finds her way into a garden that has been shut-up and hidden for a decade. Between her and Dicken they begin to bring the garden to life and the changes they make there begin to reflect themselves in the spirits and health of the young ones. Mysterious crying in the house leads to a new discovery the helps to bring the magic of the secret garden completely to life.

I think the story is a great message to everyone. It teaches about the importance of not being spoiled and lazy. It shows acceptance of disabilities and illustrates the power of thoughts. I found the story to be highly enjoyable and engaging. The writing was simple and fun to read. The language was not extremely difficult but it did provide vocabulary that most children now-a-days do not hear very often. It is also told from the child’s point of view so it will be very easy for children to relate to. Even as an adult, I was able to connect with the story. The simple lessons taught throughout that I mentioned before are relevant even to an adult’s life and it helps to see the world through their eyes. I highly recommend this book if you have never read it before.

My rating:

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 12.27.43 PM

2016 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge, Book Reviews

Anne of Greene Gables by L. M. Montgomery

I love the Anne of Green Gables series. I fell in love with it about a year and a half ago when I first read the stories on the recommendation of a friend. I loved them so much my husband bought me the box set for Christmas LOL. When I ran out of audiobooks, I found that I still had the first Anne of Greene Gables on my iPod so I just started listening to it. I forgot how good the book was. Anne is such a fun, imaginative, and energetic character. It would be so hard to not like her. She sees life in such an interesting way it is hard not to be thoughtful about how you think life compared to Anne. She is so open-minded and imaginative that it makes you begin to think things would be like in your life if you follow her example.

The story follows Anne after she is adopted by Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert. Throughout the five or so years the books cover you see her grow from a fascinating young girl into an interesting young woman. She makes a series of amusing mistakes and gets into a lot of scrapes. She makes friends, learns about herself more, and becomes loved by the town. She read about her growing relationships with her adoptive family, her best friend, and the rivalries she develops at school. Throughout it all, Anne renames places to make them more interesting, talks about her dreams and desires, and uses her imagination to create such interesting stories it is hard not to enjoy.

The is a wonderful coming of age novel that demonstrates the value of being yourself and following your dreams. Anne is a great role model for young girls and the book is light-hearted throughout, even in the sad places thanks to Anne’s interesting thoughts and insights. I highly recommend this book to anyone, even adults. It’s one of my favorites and I think everyone could find some value in it, the least of which is wholesome, clean, and light-hearted entertainment.

My rating:

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 12.27.43 PM

Book News, Random Thoughts

Billion eBook Giveaway!


Reading is Fundamental! has teamed up with UsTyme to give away a billion digitally remastered and drawn e-books to be read online or on most mobile devices. It is entirely free. Here is the link: https://www.billionebookgift.org/index.html#create-account. I actually went on and downloaded them myself to practice my Spanish since they have them all in Spanish as well. The books are beautifully drawn. The phone app allows you to stream a video of yourself and child reading the books right in the app. When you register an account you immediately get 50 children’s book classics. Will James at GeekDad.com wrong an article about the program: http://geekdad.com/2015/12/givingtuesday/. With more and more children using technology, it is important to help foster literacy through that technology. Here is a way for the children to use the tools they are familiar with, that give them that instant gratification we are becoming addicted to, and to foster a love for reading. I think it is a great program and am hoping to spread the word so that children everywhere have access to books.

Here are some images of the app. Stop by the website and check it out!


Book News

Congratulations to the 2016 ALA Award Winners!

Article originally written by Alice at Vamos a Leer: Congratulations to the 2016 ALA Award Winners!

We are thrilled to share the news that this year’s American Library Association (ALA) awards recognized several amazing Latin@ authorsamong outstanding children’s and young adult books. These authors have played an important part in the diversification of children’s and young adult literature and we are excited to see that their contributions have been acknowledged with such prestigious awards. Never before has the ALA awards recognized such breadth and depth of Latin@ and Latin American culture in a given year!

As author Meg Medina writes, “It has been a HUGE day for Latino authors and illustrators all the way around.  A ceiling-shattering day.  A day that represents such an astounding shift in respect and perception that it brings tears to my eyes as I am typing this. For the first time, we have Latino winners and honor books in so many of the major awards – the Feldman, the Seilbert, the Printz, the Caldecott, the Odyssey, non-fiction awards and the very highest one, the Newbery.”

This year’s 2016 winner of the John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature is Last Stop on Market Street, written by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson, and published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons. According to Latino USA, “For the first time in 94 years, a Latino author has won the John Newbery Medal for literature, considered one of the most important honors for American children’s books.” According to School Library Journal, de la Peña has said of his work, “‘Part of what I’ve been trying to do with my books is just focus on moments of grace and beauty in working class neighborhoods,’ he said. ‘This book maybe is about a kid learning to see himself as beautiful—his world as beautiful.’Last Stop on Market Street was also named an Honor Book for theRandolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children and was additionally deemed an Honor Book for the Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award.

Echo, an acclaimed young adult novel written by the talented author Pam Muñoz Ryan and published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., was also named as a finalist for the John Newberry Medal.

Other Latino/a winners, finalists, and honorees include: Out of Darkness, written by Ashley Hope Pérezand published by Carolrhoda Lab, was named as an Honor Book for the Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults; Written and Drawn by Henrietta, published by TOON Books, and written, illustrated, and translated from the Spanish by Liniers from Argentina, was named as an Honor Book for the Mildred L. Batchelder Award for an outstanding children’s book translated from a foreign language and subsequently published in the United States; and Echo, produced by Scholastic Audio/Paul R. Gagne, written by Pam Muñoz Ryan and narrated by Mark Bramhall, David de Vries, MacLeod Andrews and Rebecca Soler, selected as an Honor Recording for the Odyssey Award for best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults, available in English in the United States.

Undocumented: A Dominican Boy’s Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League by Dan-el Padilla Peralta, published by Penguin Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC won an Alex Award for the 10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences.

This year’s recipient of the Pura Belpré (Author) Award honoring a Latino writer and illustrator whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience was Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir, written by Margarita Engle and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers. Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir was also a finalist for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. Two Belpré Author Honor Books were named: The Smoking Mirror, written by David Bowles and published by IFWG Publishing, Inc.; and Mango, Abuela, and Me, written by Meg Medina, illustrated by Angela Dominguez, and published by Candlewick Press.

This year’s recipient of the Pura Belpre (Illustrator) Award is Drum Dream Girl, illustrated by Rafael López, written by Margarita Engle and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Three Belpré Illustrator Honor Books for illustration were selected: My Tata’s Remedies/Los remedios de mi tata, illustrated byAntonio Castro L., written by Roni Capin Rivera-Ashford and published by Cinco Puntos Press; Mango, Abuela, and Me, illustrated by Angela Dominguez, written by Meg Medina and published by Candlewick Press; and Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras, illustrated and written by Duncan Tonatiuh and published by Abrams Books for Young Readers.

Finally, Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras by writer/illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh was again recognized when it won the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award for most distinguished informational book for children.

Congratulations to all the winners, finalists and honorees! We are so delighted to join in the chorus of acclaim and recognition that you deeply deserve!!!

2015 Pop Sugar Book Challenge, Book Reviews

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

I have a friend who absolutely LOVES Alice in Wonderland. I’ve never seen the animated movie and I’ve watched snippets of the Sy-Fy Channel’s Alice movie. So when I saw the audiobook on sale in the iTunes store, I thought “Why not?”.

Let me begin by saying the audiobook I downloaded was actually done extremely well. It was made by an acting group – the Wizard Academy Press , so each character had a different voice actor. I loved the narrator and the woman who played Alice. There was music and sound effects as well. For an audiobook, it was very engaging.

I knew it was going to be a little strange going in, but I was quite surprised by how strange. Science Fiction is usually not my thing, not that this is exactly science fiction, but neither is it fantasy. I usually like fantasy, but this book was just not my cup of tea. I do give the author credit for creating a very vivid and crazy world that created a comprehensive story line though. It was well written and to most people probably quite interesting. It did grow on me some the longer I read it, especially once Alice got out of the hallway and to the White Rabbit’s house.

The story follows Alice after she falls down a rabbit hole. She goes through many adventures and meets numerous characters. She initially meets the White Rabbit, following him down the rabbit hole. Then she meets a few animals as she is swimming in the Pool of Tears. There is also the Hatter, the March Hare, the Dormouse, and the members of the pack of cards, with the King and Queen of Hearts as their leaders. Throughout it all, Alice is constantly growing and shrinking to fit the needs of the different environments and situations she ends up in.

If I were to listen or read it again, I would probably go with the written book just to make sure. However, I’m not sure I’m likely to read it again. Like I said, it wasn’t really my version of an interesting book, just strange. Also, the majority of the time I spent criticizing Alice for being idiotic in my opinion. So like I said, not my thing, but I’m sure others really enjoy this book. I don’t think I’d really let children under probably 12 or 13 read it because there are drug references, violence, and some more advanced topics, such as a philosophical discussion on time, that are scattered throughout the book.

My rating:

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 12.29.41 PM

2015 Pop Sugar Book Challenge, Book Reviews

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder


This book written from the point of view of a seven year old, so it was a little too young for me to connect with the characters. The story follows young Laura Ingalls through about two years living on a settlement in the middle of the woods. All her highs and lows and the joys of living you only can see through a child’s eyes. You see the simple life that people lived and how the appreciated the simplest of gifts and play. There were no X-boxes, and the best gifts you got for Christmas were a new dress or doll – not both usually. It gives you a new respect for what is truly important in life.

You do learn a lot about frontier life and what it took to survive. The book covers storing food, making butter, drying fruits and vegetables, canning, and storing meats. It also discusses the different dangers surrounding the settlers, such as bears and severe weather. Also, they cover collecting sap and making syrup. The book further emphasizes how much the settlers relied on each other and how they would help each other to prepare for the cold winter months. Furthermore, you learn how the settlers had to plan each week out so that everything got done – Cleaning on Monday, butter on Tuesday, Baking on Friday, Bathing on Saturday, etc. Everything they did was for a specific purpose that would help them survive. Faith and religion are also strongly reinforced and held in high respect.

It is a great story for learning about frontier living, but it is written for much younger readers. I did enjoy the information I learned and would be interested in reading the other books in the future to learn more about frontier life. The book does help you to look at your current life in a new way and to appreciate what you have.

My rating:

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 12.29.30 PM

Random Thoughts

Attention All Readers: World Education’s Pages 4 Progress Charity

Attention All Readers: World Education’s Pages 4 Progress Charity. – by Ajoobacats

I have recently become aware of a very worthy charity and cause called World Education’s Pages 4 Progress, who believe literacy is the gateway out of poverty.


This inspiring charity is trying to raise three million pages read and registered around the globe by World Literacy Day, September 8th 2015, to raise awareness and money for literacy programmes. I think this is a fantastic way to make your summer reading count towards something very worthwhile.



So if you enjoy reading pop over to Pages4Progress and share what you’ve read by registering your pages and join in this summer to do something positive from your favourite reading nook simply from logging the pages of a book, newspaper, magazine or webpage. It all counts!



Reading is important on a basic level in order to learn and assimilate information and to pass it on. Recreational reading fuels the imagination and creativity. Reading is necessary in most careers and is an infinite pathway to getting new experiences.


This is a hard one, I learnt about how attention to detail is important in conveying messages to an audience from films in the book I am currently reading and that my friend did not like the red velvet cake she tried for the first time today.


I have so many books I have read and loved but so far this year Mark Edwards’ Follow You Home gave me the most chills so far. It was scary and full of suspense to satisfy a thriller junkie like me.


Taking part in the Pages4Progress reading challenge and promoting it here on my book blog so that fellow bloggers join in to raise awareness is a good start. I would like to pledge as many pages as I can and also donate money to this worthy cause, continue to support Pages4Progress and follow the progress they make.


There are so many factors that affect education from some States not having the funds to implement primary school education, to cultural differences in the way girls and boys are educated, shortage of teachers to health issues among children who are among the poorest in the world. Marginalization is a term often thrown around to describe children who find themselves in the margins of society, both in developed and developing countries, and do not benefit from learning that would help them develop intellectually and socially. Children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds are stuck in a cycle of illiteracy.


For every page read and logged there are match donors contributing to the Pages 4Progress fund, which will be used to make access to literacy easier.


I have many favourite memories of being totally lost in books and welcome the wonder and escape books provide me.

2015 Pop Sugar Book Challenge, Book Reviews

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Harry Potter #1) by J. K. Rowling

Even though I was the prime age when Harry Potter was first released, I had never actually read the books. I’ve even see the first four movies, but I never read them. So for my banned book challenge, I decided I would actually read one (and I got it for 50 cents at Goodwill…). I was actually quite surprised by it. It was boring, it kept moving, and since I had seen the movie, I could picture the characters easily. The movie is actually quite close to being spot on. There wasn’t much deviation from the book to the movie.

The story follows Harry Potter, a young lad who doesn’t know he is a wizard. His parents are killed trying to defeat the evil lord Voldomort when he was a baby. Harry was Voldomort’s only victim to live, leaving him with a scar on his head and no parents. He is taken to live with his aunt and uncle, who are Muggles, or non-magical people and hidden away from the magical world. On his eleventh birthday he receives an invitation to attend the private Hogswarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He makes friends and learns about his magical lineage. He has numerous adventures with his new friends, often getting them into trouble, especially when they are fighting with their nemesis Draco Malfoy. However, they learn of a hidden article that Lord Voldomort is after in the school and attempt to stop him. The book covers all these events as they occur through the first school year.

The story line was solid, there weren’t any gaping holes or anything. Some of the occurrences you would think “No, he wouldn’t actually be that lucky” but you let that go and continue with the story. It keeps you engaged and it moves along well, not going too fast or too slow. I would have liked to have seen more depth to the characters and get to know them better, but it is a young adult book and as it is a series I’m sure that will come in time. I identified most with Hermione and Professor McGonagle. I don’t actually have a whole lot to say bad about the book. I would like my children to read it when they are old enough. There is a lot of good lessons on loyalty, trust, friendship, and doing the right thing. There are also lessons on meanness and revenge. I have a feeling the more the series continues the more the characters and life lessons will develop. I do not think I will read them all, however. They seem to get very dark and depressing from what I hear. I guess we shall have to see.

My rating:

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 12.29.30 PM

Random Thoughts

Reading Inspired Crochet

I am an avid crocheter. I usually make blankets for new babies, but lately there have been a lot of babies and little time LOL. I decided to make the little baby cocoons and hats because they are quicker. I found a pattern that was inspired by The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Once I finished that, I decided to make another Eric Carle inspired set, but I made the pattern, so there isn’t a link to the pattern I used. Enjoy!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Cocoon and Hat


Pattern Available: Oui Crochet Caterpillar Pattern

Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What do you see? Cocoon and Hat


I made the pattern up as I went, but I did it similar to the caterpillar cocoon without the ripples in the bottom.

Random Thoughts

Getting children to read

I personally think it is very important to have children love to read. I loved to read as a child and I think it helped me an immense amount through my school and educational career. I wanted to take a little time to share some ideas and resources that help to aid teaching children to read. Anybody can do these with kids, but it’s mainly for parents. I thought they were simple and a great way to encourage children to read with out rewarding them with gifts for reading or nagging them, but to help them find fun in reading.

  1. Read to them early on in their life, and keep reading to them
  2. Set aside time to read with them, aloud or just together, during the week
  3. Fill their rooms with books, leaving reading materials laying around for them to find (especially in the bathroom! LOL)
  4. Get them a library card and take them to visit the library regularly, even just to walk around and browse
  5. Let them see you reading
  6. Let them read ANYTHING – comic books, magazines, cartoons, etc.
  7. Show them the usefulness of reading – recipes, directions, road signs, instructions, etc.
  8. Ask them about what they are reading and share your thoughts on what you are reading
  9. Let them read as long as they want
  10. Play reading-related or word games for fun
  11. Find books that match their interests
  12. Encourage them finding new books
  13. Find fun books to read in between the more serious reads – joke books, comics, riddles, or a funny story or newspaper article

Here are some links that review these ideas and offer other topics of interest you may want to look into:

If you don’t have children or want to help other children around the world, here are a few charities I found that help getting books to children.


First Book – http://www.firstbook.org/

First Book is determined to see that all children, regardless of their economic conditions, can achieve more in school and in life through access to an ongoing supply of new books. With the help of our partners, donors and dedicated volunteers we have provided more than 125 million new books to schools and programs serving children in need. Yet millions of children are still waiting for our help. Together we can make a difference in children’s lives. Together we can provide new books and critical resources that elevate the quality of education for children in low-income families. – See more at: http://www.firstbook.org/get-involved#sthash.wzr5FJ1X.dpuf


Books for Kids – http://www.booksforkids.org/

The mission of the Books for Kids Foundation is to promote literacy among all children with a special emphasis on low-income and at-risk preschool-aged children. Books for Kids creates libraries, donates books, and implements literacy programs to develop the critical early foundation and skills which young children need to be successful in life.

Books for Kids was created in 1986 by a group of New Yorkers who recognized that children who do not have adequate access to books must surmount enormous disadvantages when entering school.

What began as an informal project to collect and distribute 1,000 books to needy children for the holidays quickly took on much greater dimensions when we gave away 2,000 books in the first year and 9,000 in the next. It was clear to our founders that an organization providing access to age-appropriate books for low-income children with little or no resources was desperately needed.


Pajama Program – http://www.pajamaprogram.org/

Pajama Program provides new pajamas and new books to children in need nationwide, many of whom are waiting to be adopted. These children live in group homes, shelters and temporary housing facilities and are shuffled often from one place to another. Many of them have been abandoned, abused or neglected. Most of these children have never enjoyed the simple comfort of having a parent tuck them in at bedtime with warm, clean pajamas and a bedtime story. Some of the children are living with their families below the poverty level, in desperate need of food, clothing and shelter. These two simple gifts of pajamas and books let the children know that someone cares – sometimes these are the only new things they have ever received.