MrsK's K-8 Books Worth Reading

my best-reads-for-k-8 shelf:
MrsK Books's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (best-reads-for-k-8 shelf)

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The House Girl by Tara Conklin

The House Girl
ISBN: 9780062207517
Publisher's Synopsis:
Virginia, 1852. Seventeen-year-old Josephine Bell decides to run from the failing tobacco farm where she is a slave and nurse to her ailing mistress, the aspiring artist Lu Anne Bell. New York City, 2004. Lina Sparrow, an ambitious first-year associate in an elite law firm, is given a difficult, highly sensitive assignment that could make her career: she must find the “perfect plaintiff” to lead a historic class-action lawsuit worth trillions of dollars in reparations for descendants of American slaves.

It is through her father, the renowned artist Oscar Sparrow, that Lina discovers Josephine Bell and a controversy roiling the art world: are the iconic paintings long ascribed to Lu Anne Bell really the work of her house slave, Josephine? A descendant of Josephine’s would be the perfect face for the reparations lawsuit—if Lina can find one. While following the runaway girl’s faint trail through old letters and plantation records, Lina finds herself questioning her own family history and the secrets that her father has never revealed: How did Lina’s mother die? And why will he never speak about her?

Moving between antebellum Virginia and modern-day New York, this searing, suspenseful and heartbreaking tale of art and history, love and secrets, explores what it means to repair a wrong and asks whether truth is sometimes more important than justice.
"On the open page of her notebook, Lina wrote,
'Nature of the harm----slavery.'"
MrsK's Review:
In 1852, Josephine knows she is going to run. There are so many freedoms that Josephine wanted to experience. Simple every day choices like eating when she was hungry, choosing what to wear, smiling and loving... all of which a slave can not do. 

Mister and Missus Lu have a tobacco farm, Bell Creek, in Virginia. So much has gone wrong, yet the Mister was not a man Josephine had pity for. He was a cruel man. Missus Lu is much worse and even her art work can not keep her from the sick bed. Every moment in which she is not sleeping, she is relying on Josephine.

In 2004, Lina Sparrow is a litigation associate at Clifton & Harp LLP. Lina's father is an artist whose living has always been meager. Her mother is only a memory. A memory in which Lina isn't sure if it is a true memory or perhaps a desired memory. Her father has kept all things about her mother a secret until he decided it was a good idea to begin painting her mother. And now, he wanted her to view them. With so much on her mind and in her schedule, she was not prepared for a new case. Especially one of reparation. A reparation that would be offered to the fourth or fifth generation of slaves or ex-slaves.

Written with characters whose voices echo within your heart, settings that are vividly portrayed, and masterfully crafted emotions true to "real-time" experiences you will be beckoned with in the story itself. Uniquely woven between Lina's personal life and her litigation research is a design in which, you become the story's weaver with each thread of Josephine's story as soon as Lina discovers it.
The message is as moving as the story, timely and yet powerful. As an educator this story caused me to ponder what we have forgotten when raising the next generation. In today's world, would any of our children or grandchildren care about Josephine's story or just the reparation pay out?
"The harm is immeasurable."
Inspiring, yet unsettling.
Be prepared to sense a calling towards doing your part in making the world better!

Meet the Author:
 Tara Conklin Tara Conklin was born on St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands and raised in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. She is a graduate of Yale University, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and New York University School of Law. A joint US-UK citizen, Tara now lives with her family in Seattle. The House Girl is her first novel.

"I received this book for free from the Fiction Guild for this review."
Thomas Nelson

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Murder on the Moor by Julianna Deering

Murder on the Moor (Drew Farthering Mystery #5)
ISBN: 9780764218286
Publisher's Synopsis:
At the urgent request of an old school friend, Drew and Madeline Farthering come to Bloodworth Park Lodge in the midst of the Yorkshire moors, a place as moody and mysterious as a BrontE hero. There have been several worrisome incidents out on the moor--property destroyed, fires started, sheep and cattle scattered--and worst of all, the vicar has been found dead on the steps of the church.

Drew's friend is obviously smitten with his bride of eight months, though it's hard to imagine what she sees in the awkward man. Drew can't help wondering if her affections lie more with the man's money and estate, while her romantic interests focus on their fiery Welsh gamekeeper. As the danger grows ever closer, it's up to Drew to look past his own prejudices, determine what is really going on, and find the killer before it's too late.

MrsK's Review:
At Farthering Place, Drew and Madeline are relaxing before the library fireplace "nestled in" while reading Jane Eyre. There was no indication that there had been any murder, no conversations about old friends. Just a relaxing night in, until Drew receives a phone request to come investigate the murder of a Vicar in Bunting's Nest. It has been years since Drew had spoken with "Beaky" Bloodsworth, it would be "rather interesting" to visit his family's lodge and investigate the Vicar's death.

Beaky Bloodsworth is quite distraught about the death of their Vicar. His bride, Sabrina, is getting more unsettled with imaginings about hauntings, sheep with throats torn out, and the barghest legend. Given her "feelings" of being watched while she is on the moor is very disturbing for Beaky. Just what or who is behind these unusual and unsettling capers?

Sabrina Bloodsworth is a new bride, new to Bunting's Nest, new to her husband's family lodge, and quite new to the warnings about the moor. Although she appears to have no concerns about the "hauntings," she is unsettled whenever she returns from her walks on the moor. Even more unsettling for her are the large paw prints found in the upper floor area of the old north wing.

Given another murder, the discovery of a mysterious hideout on the moor, and the attempted sabotage to Sabrina's car, Drew and Madeline are quickly discovering that there are many suspects and only one logical explanation as to the connection between Sabrina, these unfortunate events, as well as the identity of the possible villain.

The moors... what images do you have of Yorkshire moors? Do you sense the chilling mists? Is there a feeling of impending doom? Do the winds push you stumbling into areas that seem haunted? If you are familiar with mysterious happenings on the "moors," then this is a must read!
"Bad company corrupts good morals."

Delightfully enjoyable!
This husband and wife detective team is unbelievably entertaining!
I felt like I was back in the day with Topper!
Meet the Author:
 Julianna Deering  JULIANNA DEERING has always been an avid reader and a lover of storytelling, whether on the page, the screen or the stage. This, along with her keen interest in history and her Christian faith, shows in her tales of love, forgiveness and triumph over adversity. A fifth-generation Texan, she makes her home north of Dallas with three spoiled cats and, when not writing, spends her free time quilting, cross stitching and watching NHL hockey. Her new series of Drew Farthering mysteries set in 1930s England debuts with Rules of Murder (Bethany House, Summer 2013) and will be followed by Death by the Book (Bethany House, Spring 2014) and Murder at the Mikado (Bethany House, Summer 2014).

"I received this book for free for this honest review."
Bethany House

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir
ISBN: 9781101906750
Publisher's Synopsis:
As England enters World War II's dark early days, spirited music professor Primrose Trent, recently arrived to the village of Chilbury, emboldens the women of the town to defy the Vicar's stuffy edict to shutter the church's choir in the absence of men and instead 'carry on singing'. Resurrecting themselves as "The Chilbury Ladies' Choir", the women of this small village soon use their joint song to lift up themselves, and the community, as the war tears through their lives.

Told through letters and journals, The Chilbury Ladies' Choir moves seamlessly from budding romances to village intrigues to heartbreaking matters of life and death. As we come to know the struggles of the charismatic members of this unforgettable outfit -- a timid widow worried over her son at the front; the town beauty drawn to a rakish artist; her younger sister nursing an impossible crush and dabbling in politics she doesn't understand; a young Jewish refugee hiding secrets about her family, and a conniving midwife plotting to outrun her seedy past -- we come to see how the strength each finds in the choir's collective voice reverberates in her individual life.

"Just because the men have gone to war, why do we have to close the choir?
 And precisely when we need it most!"
MrsK's Review:
During the early days of WWII, this small English village will become astonished by the determination of the Ladies' choir. Not only will they defy the local Vicar, they will face many of their own struggles as they prepare for a competition in which men are a requirement. Five women will provide background knowledge, insights, point of views, and ultimately the culminating truth about the joys and sorrows of a small village and its war efforts. 

Mrs. Tilling knows first hand what war "feels" like. Her son David has just enlisted and now that the reality of funerals has come home to Chilbury she will find herself linked to war efforts beyond the headlines. She heard that writing your thoughts in a journal will help in times of stress. Her journal will provide a framework, one in which we will view all of the living within the village.  She can be the force behind the Ladies' choir if she is willing to step beyond her comfort level and embrace living. Of course she will get a supportive nudge by a renter known as the Colonel.

Edwina Paltry is a midwife. She has dreams of buying back her childhood home for her sister Clara. Through a series of letters to Clara, we discover the depth of her desired goal and at what cost will she be influenced to attain that goal. Her voice is disturbing. Her deceptive behavior keeps you on guard.

Kitty Winthrop comes from an affluent family. She has one older sister, Venetia. Her older brother was killed in the North Sea. Her father is a Brigadier and occasionally travels to London. In her diary entries, the village, the people, and the choir is vividly portrayed. Her ambition is to be singing before an audience in London and Paris. The war will bring a maturity to her young voice, yet some choices will create an ugly outcome in which Kitty will need forgiveness.

Venetia Winthrop is a young adult who has decided that she wants more than what Chilbury can offer. An inspiring artist, Mr. Slater, has come to Chilbury and entices Venetia to be his portrait model. Venetia agrees and becomes hooked in all of the wondrous thrills of young love. For her, the war efforts and the choir will be less important. Through a series of letters to her friend Angela, Venetia will reveal the truth about young love. When Mr. Slater vanishes, Venetia will face a crossroad in which she will choose the support from those whom have been in her life all a long. 

Silvie is a young cousin who has been sent to live out the war at the Winthrops. Through her diary entries, with the candid voice of a youngster we learn what happens within the Winthrop's home. Her descriptions of the air-raids and bombings are reminders that this war was in fact reality.

As with any historical fiction about war time, a reader expects certain depth in characterization and plot. There are many fractured lives in a village that wasn't prepared for the devastation of war-time occupation. 
Worth reading!
Meet the Author:
 Jennifer    Ryan  Hello, I'm the author of The Chilbury Ladies' Choir, which came out in February, 2017. It is my very first novel. Before becoming a writer, I was a nonfiction book editor, editing books about politics and economics, travel and health, and biography and memoir. I worked in London before moving to the Washington, DC, area ten years ago with my husband and two children.

I was born in a village in Kent, England, not too far away from the fictional village of Chilbury. The novel is based on the stories of my grandmother who was twenty when the Second World War began, mostly hilarious tales about bumping into people in the blackout, singing in the air raid shelters, and the freedoms women had during the war years--the excitement and romance. She also belonged to a choir, and her choir stories dramatized the camaraderie and support they all took away; the knowledge that they weren't in this alone. The Chilbury Ladies' Choir uses my dear grandmother's stories as its backdrop.
"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."
Penguin Random House

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

It Happened in Scotland by Patience Griffin

It Happened in Scotland (Kilts and Quilts, #6)
ISBN: 9780451476401
Publisher's Synopsis:
After pulling herself out of a three-year fog of grief over the loss of her husband, Joe, Rachel is bringing their five-year-old daughter to see his hometown of Gandiegow and visit with his grandfather. But Rachel wasn’t planning on running into Joe’s cousin, the man who made her have second thoughts at the altar...

Brodie has come home to help his grandfather’s fishing business, but he’d prefer not to see Rachel. Although she did break his heart six years ago, the grip she has on him hasn’t faltered. If they can stop butting heads long enough and learn to overcome the past, they may find new love in the new year.
Christmas in the sleepy Scottish fishing village of Gandiegow this year is a time for quilting, 
patching up broken hearts, and rekindling an old flame...

MrsK's Review:
Rachel Granger has brought her daughter to Glasgow. Even though this is a trip she doesn't want to make, she knows it is time for Hannah to meet her great-grandfather. It had been years since she had been back in the village, a time when marriage to Joe was interrupted by a love not forgotten and the unwanted moment when she buried Joe. Neither time brought peace, nor a village that was kind to her. Yet, here she was. Would she find the elusive peace, joy, and love that her heart once walked away from? If confronted with a second-chance decision will she embrace it or walk away? 

Cait is the owner of the Kilts and Quilts retreat. During the plane trip, Cait befriended Rachel and has helped to alter more than hotel accomodations. Just what can one open-invitation of friendship do in someone's life...plenty!
"Ye're back."
Why hadn't Brodie's friend let him know that Cait was on the plane? Once again Brodie Wallace would have to move beyond his feelings, after all Cait is just another "heartless woman." Why is she back in Gandiegow? Years ago he gave his heart to Cait, now that she is back his unrest will bring either the greatest gift of a love rekindled or that of complete frustration with a decision to escape.

Abraham is Brodie's grandfather, a man respected by many but guilty of many life-changing judgements. Cait must stay with them for Christmas, now is the time for him to correct those past hurts.

Since this is my first book in the Kilts and Quilts series, I must say that I couldn't have been more surprised with these characters. They are strong-willed, they are "quirky" and they are so comfortable. Although quilting isn't the main subject, the value and passion for quilting is woven throughout the storyline with a final project that honors the tradition of a quilt to be treasured. Their lifestyle and village is a destination you want to come "home" to again and again.

Thank you Patience for such a wonderful retreat!
Very enjoyable!
The type of journey you need every once in awhile,
especially when you want to feel like going on
a retreat with a friend.
Meet the Author:
Patience Griffin
Award-winning author Patience Griffin has been writing and sewing her whole life but didn't discover her love of quilting until her late thirties. She decided the best way to acquire her first quilt was to make one for herself. At nearly the same time, she started commuting three and half hours a day for her dream engineering job. To pass the time on the long drive, she got hooked on audiobooks-especially books with love stories. Within a couple of years, she was writing stories of her own. It was no surprise to her family and friends when she combined her love of quilting, her small town roots, and her obsession with Scottish romances into novels. She has gained some recognition with her September 11th Story Quilt which has toured the country as the property of the Pentagon. She has a master's degree in nuclear engineering but spends her days writing stories about hearth and home, and dreaming about the fictional small town of Gandiegow, Scotland.

"I received this book for this honest review by the author."

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Water and the Wild by K. E. Ormsbee

The Water and the Wild
ISBN: 9781452128818
Publisher's Synopsis:
For as long as Lottie can remember, the only people who seem to care about her have been her best friend, Eliot, and the mysterious letter-writer who sends her birthday gifts. But now strange things and people are arriving on the island Lottie calls home, and Eliot's getting sicker, with a disease the doctors have given up trying to cure. Lottie doesn't know what she can possibly do—until a door opens in the apple tree. Down through the roots is another world—a world of treacherous, beautiful, impossible magic that just might lead to a cure for Eliot.

MrsK's Review:
"A green apple tree grew in the heat of Thirsby Square..."
No one knew why Mr. Yates III would have planted this tree in their neighborhood. But it fell upon Mr. Yates IV to keep it alive. Of course his wife could have chosen to put the apples to good use but she was not kindly at all. Unlike Mrs. Yates, Mr. Yates had a "knack" when it came to being nice. Including taking in an "orphaned, lemony-haired baby."

When Mr. Yates died, Mrs. Yates turned their home into a boarding house in which "no pets, no football, no noisy behavior" would be allowed. I'm sorry to report that things would not be pleasant for the little orphan girl since Mrs. Yates felt she was a bother and quite "maddening."

By the time Lottie Fiske was twelve, she discovered three treasures that would bring her joy each day. The first was her "apple tree," it grew right outside her bedroom window and greeted her every morning. It brought her a friendship that was strong and true. Her second treasure was in fact a school friend. Eliot was every bit as "odd" as Lottie but he was also a very sick young soul. The third treasure is in fact a small copper box. What's so special about this copper box? It all began when Lottie began receiving treasures and letters inside her copper box. 
"If you should ever need anything, write back."

And so Lottie's adventure begins... Lottie not only receives treasures from the apple tree, she will soon discover an opening into an amazing world. Lottie discovers friendships, the truth about her parents, her talents, and her mission. As Eliot's health begins to deteriorate, Lottie fears that they are running out of time for his healing. If she can locate Mr. Wilfer, the healer, she knows he could help Eliot. The quest will be challenged by so many, the serum will be elusive, and Lottie will need to trust in her own gifts.  
The Doorway and the Deep (The Water and the Wild, #2)
Since Lottie's return from New Albion, Eliot has had the best prognosis. Eliot's father has sold his business and moved. Their previous adventures lead Lottie into the discovery about her talent. Yet, now was the time for Lottie to return to New Albion in a quest to "sharpen" her "keen." With the understanding and approval of Eliot's father, they both re-enter the world beyond the apple tree and are created by their friends in Wisp Territory. Knowing what your "keen" is and being trained in its use leads Lottie to discouragement and impatient decisions. Just when Lottie thinks nothing will change... she discovers a key in her pocket.  

 With delightful characters, inviting settings, and various... seriously life-threatening quests, Lottie will become a heroine that you will always want to re-visit!

Fantastical adventures are awaiting you, enter within these covers and discover your newest friendships,

Enjoyable series!
A must have for every classroom and library!
Meet the Author:
K.E. Ormsbee  K.E. Ormsbee's Middle Grade debut, THE WATER AND THE WILD, is a fantasy published by Chronicle Books. Its sequel, THE DOORWAY AND THE DEEP, comes out October 4, 2016. Standalone fantasy THE HOUSE IN POPLAR WOOD publishes Fall 2018.

She also writes Young Adult novels as Kathryn Ormsbee. Her YA debut, LUCKY FEW, published with Simon & Schuster in Jun 2016, and her next YA, TASH HEARTS TOLSTOY, comes out Summer 2017.

K.E. Ormsbee likes clothes from the 60s, music from the 70s, and movies from the 80s. She is from the 90s.
"I received this book for free for this review."
Chronicle Books

MrsK's Reading Bio

Reading is important! No questions asked, not even a blink of the eye from any student I grew up with. On the first day of the First grade, we were given our first books. Day two we all read aloud, round robin of course. Day three we were place in our first basal, now known as a lit circle group. Books were so important, publishers designed new curriculum so that every student was reading by the end of the first week. These early readers had images that looked like what we could see in the classroom, beyond the classroom, even on the big screen. Reading is important, throughout history every generation has believed that “Reading” opens up the world for endless possibilities.

I adore the 1950’s Dick and Jane books. Actually, most reading specialists and experienced (45+) educators believe that every student learned to read with Dick and Jane. Since these books are being re-issued, I have heard many parents, grandparents, and students claim that Dick and Jane stories of repetition does teach students to read.

Early influences from my mother influenced my desire to read. I would watch her read and we would go on “secret” excursions to the library. The library became my playground. I owned every book I could carry home, of course they needed to be taken back to their home after visiting with me for a week or two. My first book that I could pull off of the library shelf and read was, Father Bear Comes Home. I only saw my dad on Sundays for a few hours. I would pull this beginning reader off of the library shelf every week. Every week I would try to read the first chapter. Every week I got further in the story. My mom would let me check it out, only if I could read it myself (She didn’t like the illustrations therefore she didn’t want to take time to read it to me). One day, I pulled the book from the shelf and when mom came to get me from the children’s corner, I realized that I had read the whole story. I ran to the check out desk and the Librarian KERCHUNKED the checkout card. My mother, brother and neighbors read. My teachers read. We all read aloud all day long in school. The Priest read aloud every day at mass, even in Latin. Everybody in the Doctor’s office read. People on the bus read. Dad’s waiting in their cars as the Mom’s and children grocery shopped, read. In fact, once you could read and write, Sunset Magazine considered you a reader and sent you mail every day.

Reading is important; I’ve spent my life reading. I’ve traveled around the world and into space through books. My favorite genre is whichever book I have open at the time. Children’s Literature is my passion. Book clubbing is one of the best past times, especially if food is involved. In fact my friends of old are in a book club and we are about to embark on a beach trip to “read” and discuss our newest selection.

My “home-run” book story has helped every student find his or her own “home-run” reads. Every year, I have shared my, Father Bear Comes Home, and every year my students have brought in their “home-run” books. That’s the “diving board” into our Lit. Studies.

In “Growing Up Digital,” Tapscott’s insights into the new generations enthusiasm for the Net reminded me of my generation’s enthusiasm for reading, movies, TV, parties and our driving permits. The Net-Generation, as Tapscott describes, “are learning, playing, communicating, working, creating communities, and enforcing a social transformation.”
N-Geners are interactive “techies” who are always looking for a way to “work it” verses the TV Generation of “Baby Boomers” who started out looking for “how it works.” Reading development is tougher today, society moves too fast to invest their “non-working” free time into a book or even “home work.” Since I stepped into my own classroom, I have seen students being told to read, being forced to read, and threatened into reading. Homework is not any longer the vehicle for students to gain their future lifestyles or careers with. Yet, the Internet does create an enthusiasm for learning. Since I have been enrolled in these courses, I have used the computers in every subject. My students are using the newest technology in the classroom because I am giving them investigative sites to use as they learn from each other and books. I agree with Tapscott, in order to bridge the gap with this up and coming generation we must “live and learn with them.”

FTC Required Disclaimer: I receive these books from the publishers. I did not receive monetary compensation for these reviews. These reviews have been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at


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