Thursday, June 30, 2022

LazyDayLit's JUNE 2022 Wrap Up & Challenge Progress

Goodbye JUNE!

Hello, readers! 

How was your month?

It was hot and rainy here but we fit in a few hikes, trips to springs, and a camping trip but mostly we hung out in the garden or in the a/c because the garden is starting to wither in the 100+ (F) temps w've had.

I had a great reading month and finished TWENTY books!
Twenty is a lot for me at any time, but about half of those were graphic novels or audiobooks. I was able to get a neighboring county library card which opened up the world of available books and quite nearly three times as many hold and loans than I'm used to. I have to say, it is quite nice to be able to read what I want, when I want, without having to wait more than a week. My local library holds go on for months and months with one purchase suggestion per month. The difference is obvious! 

Books I Read in June:


Audiobooks Listened To:

Started But Haven't Finished:

Read to my kiddo:

and more! 




17 / 26

JAN: +7
C, E, G, H, L, N, V

FEB: +5
A, B, M, P, R

MAR: +2
F, W

APR: +1

MAY: +2
O, S


Damnation Spring

BookRiot's READ HARDER Challenge

JAN: 1/24
FEB: 4/24
MAR: 4/24
APR: 4/24
MAY: 5/24

JUNE: +1

17. Read a memoir by someone who is trans or nonbinary:
Gender Queer by Maia Kobabi

The52BookClub Reading Challenge

11 / 52

JAN: +5
FEB: +3
MAR: +1
APR: +2
MAY: +2

JUNE: +2

23. Author with X, Y, or Z in name:
Nizrana Farook (The Boy Who Met A Whale)

24. Addresses a specific topic:
Notes On A Nervous Planet (anxiety)

PopSugar Reading Challenge

Jan: 4 / 40
Feb: 7 / 40
Mar: +1 = 8/40
Apr: +0 = 8 / 40
May: +2 = 10/40

JUNE: +5

5. A book with a protagonist who uses a mobility aid:
White Bird

9. A book about a found family:
A History of Wild Places

20. A book whose title begins with the last letter of your previous read:
My previous read was White Bird, Challenge prompt read was Damnation Spring

37. A book about gender identity:
Gender Queer by Maia Kobabi

25. A book about a secret:
Amari and the Night Brothers


Kay/Katie O'Neill
Ash Davidson
Nizrana Farook
Steve Rinella
Cliff Sowers
BB Alston
Alice Oseman
Maia Kobabi
Stephanie Land

And that's about it for stats!

Happy reading! 


Friday, June 24, 2022

A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw (Adult Fiction Book Review)

A History of Wild Places
by Shea Ernshaw
Published by Atria Books
on December 7, 2021
Genre: Adult, Mystery, Thriller
Length: 368 pages

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Travis Wren has an unusual talent for locating missing people. Hired by families as a last resort, he requires only a single object to find the person who has vanished. When he takes on the case of Maggie St. James--a well-known author of dark, macabre children's books--he's led to a place many believed to be only a legend. 

Called "Pastoral," this reclusive community was  founded in the 1970's by like-minded people searching for a simpler way of life. By all accounts, the commune shouldn't exist anymore and soon after Travis stumbles upon it... he disappears. Just like Maggie St. James. 

Years later, Theo, a lifelong member of Pastoral, discovers Travis's abandoned truck beyond the border of the community. No one is allowed in or out, not when there's a risk of bringing a disease--rot--into Pastoral.
Unraveling the mystery of what happened reveals secrets that Theo, his wife, Calla, and her sister Bee, keep from one another. Secrets that prove perfect, isolated world isn't as safe as they believed. 

My Thoughts:

Travis Wren has the special ability to see a person's life and history when touching an object that belongs to them. With this ability, he is able to help find missing persons from time to time, which is how he ended up on the case of Maggie St. James, a missing children's book author that disappeared. Armed with only a few clues of where she was last seen before disappearing, Travis Wren sets off to find Maggie, dead or alive. 

And then the story switches to the isolated, secret community of Pastoral nestled deep in the wilderness, where the people believe the outside world is infected with 'rot' so no one ever leaves. One community member, Theo, who has been defying the leaders' rule about not traveling down the 'road' that would take him out of Pastoral, finds Travis Wren's truck and clues that he was headed for their community, which prompts Theo and his wife, Calla, to question the communities existence altogether. 

A History of Wild Places is a darkly mysterious read with lots of plot twists that I definitely did not see coming. The community of Pastoral is very cult-like, with a leader that promotes the threat of a terrible sickness if anyone leaves. 

The beginning of this book really drew me in. It starts like a true crime mystery with the possibility of a hint of horror, with Travis Wren and his ability headed deep into the woods following subtle signs that lead the way.
But then it completely switched characters, setting, etc, to give us the story from inside the reclusive community of Pastoral. I lost interest a little bit at that point and had to switch to audio to keep it going but once Theo and his wife start to catch on to the mystery of Travis Wren visiting their community, everything comes together splendidly.
I'm glad I didn't give up on it because that twist ending blew me away! 


Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Expedition Backyard by Rosemary Mosco & Binglin Hu (Children's Graphic Novel Review)

 We received a digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Expedition Backyard
by Rosemary Mosco
Illustrated by Binglin Hu
Published by Random House Graphic
on June 21, 2022
Genre: Children's, Graphic Novels
Length: 128 pages
Ages: 4 - 8

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Join two best friends--a mole and a vole--on their everyday expeditions to find beautiful plants, meet new animals, and learn more about the world around them in this nonfiction graphic novel. 

Each day, Mole and Vole venture out into the world--never forgetting their nature journal!--to see what they can find in their own backyard. From pigeons and jumping spiders to swamp milkweed and maple trees, these two explorers get to know every part of their local environment. But after an accidental move from the country to the city, Mole and Vole worry that everything will be different. As they explore, they discover plants to look at and animals to meet in their new home as well. 

The story of these two best friends brings to life a nonfiction adventure of finding wonder in nature everywhere--no matter where you live. This book concludes with fun activities for kids to do at home. 

Our  Thoughts:

Two best friends, Mole and Vole, live their best lives going on adventures and expeditions every day. No matter what happens, whether it's a scary predator or even a complete change of scenery, these two friends keep a positive outlook and face the big world head-on.  From the backyard to the city, Mole and Vole make every day a fun and educational adventure! 

Expedition Backyard is a children's nonfiction graphic novel that is perfect for nature and animal lovers! 

This is adorable!
We loved Vole's enthusiasm for adventure and Mole's tendency to nature journal all of their fun expeditions. 
The illustrations are super cute and there is some scientific labeling of flora and fauna thrown in to make it even more educational. 

There's a lot of great content at the end of the book as well, including step-by-step instructions to draw the characters and tips on how to keep a nature journal, join a community garden, learning to compost, and more! 


Friday, June 17, 2022

Damnation Spring by Ash Davidson (Adult Historical Fiction Book Review)


Damnation Spring
by Ash Davidson
Published by Scribner
on August 3, 2021
Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction
Length: 464 pages

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A stunning novel about love, work, and marriage that asks how far one family and one community will go to protect their future.

Colleen and Rich Gundersen are raising their young son, Chub, on the rugged California coast. It's 1977, and life in this Pacific Northwest logging town isn't what it used to be. For generations, the community has lived and breathed timber; now that way of life is threatened. 

Colleen is an amateur midwife. Rich is a tree-topper. It's a dangerous job that requires him to scale trees hundreds of feet tall. Colleen and Rich want a better life for their son--and they take steps to assure their future. Rich secretly spends their savings on a swath of ancient redwoods. But when Colleen, grieving the loss of a recent pregnancy and desperate to have a second child, challenges the logging company's use of herbicides she believes are responsible for the many miscarriages in the community, Colleen and Rich find themselves on opposite sides of a budding conflict. As tensions in the town rise, they threaten the very thing the Gundersens are trying to protect: their family. 

Told in prose as clear as a spring-fed creek, Damnation Spring is an intimate, compassionate portrait of a family whose bonds are tested and a community clinging to a vanishing way of life. 

My Thoughts:

Damnation Spring is the story of a logging town in the Pacific Northwest in the 1970's that is slowly starting to become aware of the effects of the local logging company's herbicides. 

Rich and Colleen Gunderson are just trying to get by and raise their only son, Chub, after a long string of miscarriages, but when Colleen's old high school sweetheart finds a link between the herbicides and the town's miscarriages and stillbirths, Colleen and Rich must make tougher choices than they've ever made before.

I started this on a whim, going in blind and having only seen one or two random people recommend it, but it was available so I gave it a go. It took me a while to get into the story and I had to switch to audio so my attention wouldn't waver as much. It's a bit slow-paced and not a lot happens beyond some family drama and community hardships. It's much more character-driven and has a heavy focus on politics and the blowback from locals when faced with science and facts that may actually save their lives and end all their woes. 

I recommend if you enjoy environmental reads, familial drama, or historical fiction about logging or the Pacific Northwest. 

Content Warnings 
Miscarriage, severe birth defects, death, violence, animal abuse, infidelity


Wednesday, June 15, 2022

A Park Connects Us by Sarah Nelson & Ellen Rooney (Children's Picture Book Review)

 We received a temporary digital copy of this picture book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


A Park Connects Us
Words by Sarah Nelson
Illustrations by Ellen Rooney
Published by OwlKids Books
on March 15, 2022
Genre: Children's, Picture Books
Length: 32 pages
Ages: 3 - 8 years

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A celebration of urban parks and the many ways they connect us to community and nature. 

This love letter to public parks depicts an inclusive and accessible space where community flourishes. Without a screen in sight, it gently hints at the adventures to be had offline and encourages readers to venture into nature and connect with their neighborhoods. 

Our Thoughts:

A Park Connects Us is a beautifully inclusive look at public parks and all that they afford us, from a place to play or ride bikes or fly kites to a place to have a family picnic or a wedding.

This picture book has a wide array of verbs included and seems to be focused entirely on what a park can do or be for all of us!

The illustrations show us many of the fun or relaxing things we can do at a park and all the beauty it holds as well. Each page is filled with active and friendly park-goers of all ages, races, cultures, and more, sharing a community space that is welcome to all. 

There's also a beautiful reminder that parks are something that we, as a community, make possible and a bit of information about popular parks around the world and what they mean to those communities. 

Do you have a favorite park that you visit regularly?


Friday, June 10, 2022

Out of the Rain (The Umbrella Lady #2) by VC Andrews (Adult Contemporary Drama Book Review)

 I won a copy of this book from the publisher via Goodreads Giveaways in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Out of the Rain
(Umbrella #2)
by 'VC Andrews'
Published by Gallery Books
on October 5, 2021
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Drama
Length: 304 pages

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Following the events of The Umbrella Lady, young Saffron Faith Anders searches for family and love in this spine-tingling gothic fairy tale. 

After escaping the trauma of the Umbrella Lady's home, thirteen-year-old Saffron Faith Anders is determined to find the father who abandoned her all those years ago. But when she finds him in a nearby town, Saffron is shocked to discover that he has married a woman he clearly had been involved with before her mother's death. Worse, her father insists Saffron pretend to be his niece so he can continue to con his new wife's family. 
Desperate for her father's love, she goes along with the farce, but it soon becomes clear that perhaps it is better to face the world alone than be trapped in a toxic and potentially dangerous family. 

My Thoughts:

In the first book, The Umbrella Lady, Saffron Faith Anders is abandoned by her father at a train station where an old woman carrying an umbrella coaxes her home. Raised and homeschooled by the Umbrella Lady, Saffron has to come to terms with the fact that her father is not going to return for her. But unforeseen events leave Saffron alone in the world again at the age of thirteen and armed with her father's new home address, she shows up on his doorstep only to find that he plans to pass her off as his niece to his newer wife and in-laws. The in-laws just happen to be one of the wealthiest and most powerful families in the area.

Stuck in a whirlwind of secrets, Saffron attempts to maneuver her father's world in the hopes that she can be with him again, but the pressure of pretending to be something she isn't for someone who abandoned her has her scrambling for the truth of her past, her mother, and the reasons behind her father's ambitious connections. Will Saffron be able to apply the education the Umbrella Lady gave her to overcome the pressures of her new world? Or will she end up just as alone as ever? 

I grew up reading V.C. Andrews' original series with their dark and twisted familial themes but have been aware that they've been ghostwritten for years now so I haven't kept up with them. My interest was piqued again when I heard about the newer biography (also from the ghostwriter) and thought I'd give one of the newer series a chance.
I was surprised by how very similar the themes are to the originals and found these to be slightly nostalgic in a way because of the similarities. 
There's the young girl with a sordid family secret that lands the girl in the care of strangers or almost strangers, which of course means mistreatment and overall trauma, and then the girl escapes only to find themselves trapped in an even stickier web of familial lies and deceit. 

I enjoyed this series so far. Saffron is a very mature character that has been through the 'wringer' but still has a good heart despite everything. These books are perfect for those that enjoy a bit of drama and suspense mixed with their life lessons and cautionary tales. 

The Umbrella Lady


Wednesday, June 8, 2022

The World of Coral Reefs by Erin Spencer & Alexandria Neonakis (Children's Nonfiction Picture Book Review)

 We received a digital copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

The World Of Coral Reefs:
Explore and Protect the Natural Wonders of the Sea
Written by Erin Spencer
Illustrated by Alexandria Neonakis
Published by Storey Publishing
on March 29, 2022
Genre: Children's, Nonfiction, Nature
Length: 48 pages
Ages: 7 - 10 years

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Coral reefs occupy less than 1% of the ocean floor, but they support 25% of all marine species with food and shelter. In this lavishly illustrated book for ages 7 to 10, marine ecologist and underwater explorer Erin Spencer provides fascinating, scientific information in a highly accessible format, including details about the types of coral, their anatomy and life cycle, where they live, how reefs develop, and the incredible diversity of marine animals that live among them, including aquarium favorites like clownfish, royal blue tangs, and sea turtles. Kids learn about the interdependent relationships between people and reefs and how human behavior puts reefs in danger, promising conservation work that scientists are undertaking, and solution-oriented ways kids and families can help in the effort. 

Our Thoughts:

This gorgeously illustrated nonfiction picture book is the perfect resource for learning about our planet's coral reefs.

Learn about the different kinds of coral, where they live and grow, what creatures depend on them for food and shelter, their life cycle, and more! You will also learn how coral reefs help us by providing a source of food, medicine, and a natural barrier from storms. 

Of course, just like the ocean itself, our planet's coral reefs need our help. This book gives great information on how our daily habits affect the coral reefs, as well as tips to help protect them.

Includes the Hawaiian creation story, a glossary, and lots of fantastic links to extra resources that include interactive videos and visual activities, games, apps, database contributions, and more! 
There's also a curriculum guide for educators! 


Tuesday, June 7, 2022

The Ocean Hero Handbook by Tessa Wardley (Children's Nonfiction Book Review)

 I received a temporary digital copy of this nonfiction book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

The Ocean Hero Handbook:
Simple Things You Can Do To Save Our Seas
by Tessa Wardley
Published by Ivy Press
on April 19, 2022
Genre: Nonfiction
Length: 144 pages

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Focusing on so much more than plastic pollution, this ahead-of-the-curve book exposes the extensive damage being done to the oceans that most of us don't know about, and what simple, everyday changes we can make to help protect our seas.

This book is a necessary call to act and educate ourselves on the damage human activity is having on our seas, and a guide to how you can help to stop it, whether you live on the coastline or hundreds of miles from the ocean. 

Shocking but enlightening, it illustrates exactly what the problems are, how they impact the ocean, why it is so important to keep our oceans healthy for our own benefit, and what we can do individually and collectively to help save our seas. 

My Thoughts:

This call-to-action handbook is perfect for young environmentalists and thalassophiles (ocean lovers). 

The Ocean Hero Handbook is an intriguing nonfiction book with seven chapters that present specific issues that the ocean faces and then shares what we can do to change the issue and why it is important for us to do so. The chapters, which cover an array of issues each, includes 'indoor', 'outdoor', 'transport', 'on holiday', 'at work', 'food & shopping', and 'clothes'. 

Learn how to reduce your carbon footprint and cut back single-use plastics. Find alternatives to waste products that clog up our waterways, learn how to reduce carbon emissions cut back on harmful chemicals.  Learn about what is destroying our land, coastlines, and waterways, and how they directly affect the ocean and the ecosystems of all the above. There's a plethora of topics from all walks of life on this planet, all aimed at helping readers be the heroes and heroines that the ocean is desperately in need of. 

   If you'd like to learn more about how we impact the earth and oceans and what you can do to make a difference, this is a great choice. I recommend it to middle-grade age readers and older. 



Monday, June 6, 2022

Ocean: Waves For All by Stacy McAnulty (Children's Nonfiction Picture Book Review)



Ocean: Waves For All
(Our Universe #4)
Words by Stacy McAnulty
Illustrated by David Litchfield
Published by Henry Holt & Co.
on May 5, 2020
Genre:  Children's, Picture Books, Nonfiction
Length: 40 pages
Ages: 4 - 8 pages

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | BookDepository

From writer Stacy McAnulty and illustrator David Litchfield, Ocean: Waves For All is a light-hearted nonfiction picture book about the formation and history of the ocean--told from the perspective of the ocean itself. 

Our Thoughts:

The 'Our Universe' series continues with Ocean: Waves For All, personifying Earth's ocean as a super-cute, free-spirited being that has been flowing around for about four billion years and rejoices in bringing its waves to all. 

Learn all about the ocean, from how old it is, to the life that began in it, to its depths, layers, secrets, and more in this fun and informative picture book! Learn about its relation to Earth, the moon, and even human beings over time.

There are a few fun extras in the back of the book that include a letter from the author, a collection of number-related facts, a fun interview with Ocean themself, and several great tips on how to be a great friend to the ocean.

We have adored every book in the 'Our Universe' series so far!

If you are looking for a way to teach your young children about the world in a way that will keep their attention, this nonfiction picture book series is perfect for you! Each book in this series personifies the subject, allowing them to explain their life and history, creating a super fun and memorable way to learn.

Be sure to check out our reviews on the rest of the Our Universe series:

Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years
Sun! One In A Million
Moon! Earth's Best Friend


Thursday, June 2, 2022

NatGeoKids Level 3 Fact Reader: Bling! 100 Fun Facts About Rocks and Gems by Emma Carlson Berne (Children's Nonfiction Book Review)

We received a complimentary copy of this Fact Reader from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

100 Fun Facts About Rocks and Gems
by Emma Carlson Berne
Published by National Geographic Kids
on January 4, 2022
Genre: Children's, Nonfiction
Length: 48 pages
Ages: 7 - 9 years

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | BookDepository


Get ready to be dazzled by some of the shiniest, most colorful, useful--and even dangerous--rocks, minerals, and gems on the planet! 

In this Level 3 reader, discover fascinating facts about the incredible rocks and minerals under our feet and deep in Earth's crust. Budding geologists will love reading about how rocks form, learning the names and features of the coolest rocks and minerals, and exploring rare and beautiful gemstones.

My Thoughts:

The level 3 Fact Readers are perfect for curious kids that are reading on their own.

Bling! features one hundred unique facts pertaining to rocks and minerals, paired with bright and colorful photographs that will keep young eyes glued to the page!  

Broken into three easy-to-read chapters, this nonfiction covers all the most important facts about rocks and gems, such as the three main types of rock, how they're formed, how they've been discovered and utilized throughout history, and more. 

There's even a handy 'Facts Roundup' page at the back of the book in case you weren't sure you caught all one-hundred facts while browsing or reading. 

There are enough facts packed into this little book to give a well-rounded introduction to the subject, making it perfect for school and home libraries or for curious little learners. 


Wednesday, June 1, 2022

LazyDayLit's JUNE 2022 TBR & Reading Goals

  Hello June! 

Here's what I might dig into this month!
Happy reading! 

For Review:

I was lucky enough to win The Cartographers from Goodreads as well as a copy of The Boy Who Met A Whale by Nizrana Farook over on Instagram and am really looking forward to both!
I also have a couple of newer MG reads to review for the publishers so these will all be my priorities for the month! 

Many thanks to William Morrow, Peachtree Publishing Company, Katherine Tegan Books, and Simon Schuster Book for Young Readers for the great new reads! 

Borrowed Books:

Libby Loans: 

These are only 2-week loans and I'm very likely to 'return' them for other readers if I can't get to them right away so this section is subject to change! 

What are you most looking forward to reading this month?

You can keep up with what I end up reading over on Bookstagram @LazyDayLit