Release Day Review: The Girl of the Lake by Bill Roorbach

This collection of ten stories is a wonderful literary homage to relationships, with each story being incredibly unique and in some way a statement on the human condition. Roorbach hits a vast array of topics, from a young child exploring Russian history with an elderly neighbor to a lustful online dating encounter between a farmer and a former member of the clergy, among many others.

Regardless of the topic of each story, they are all hopeful and thought-provoking shorts – in my reading life, they were perfect as palate cleansers between longer novels.

My favorite story in the collection is the title story, “The Girl on the Lake” which takes readers to a lake cabin with the 17-year-old narrator as he spends the summer with his widowed grandmother. It instantly made me reminisce for the lake cabin of my own childhood and I fell in love with Chick, his grandmother and the entire lake property.

Thanks to Algonquin for the advance review copy of this title – all opinions are my own.

Vacation Review: The Windfall by Diksha Basu

Last vacation review of the trip! This one is out on June 27th in the US – put it on your new release purchase list NOW…..

A thoroughly satisfying social and class satire set in Delhi and New York, “The Windfall” tells the story of a family grappling with newfound wealth and attempting to find their place in their new suburban life. Marriage and parenting adult children are portrayed in such an honest way, and the descriptions of ostentatious expenditures are described with just the right balance of vulnerability and humor.

I loved the dialogue between the Chopra and Jha couples and cheered for Rupak as he attempted to figure out his true identity and path in life. My favorite character in the whole book, though, was Mrs. Ray – her quest for happiness as a young widow is so touching and authentic. 

I highly recommend this new title from Diksha Basu to anyone looking for a witty and smart commentary on class and culture in India and the US. 

Thanks to Net Galley for the digital review copy – all opinions are my own. 

Vacation Review: Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan

Coming to you from the car en route from Tennessee home to Wisconsin!


An absolutely glorious commentary on motherhood, marriage, grief, faith and forgiveness. As a mother and daughter, I made note of so many passages and thoughts that hit me especially hard, particularly those that pertained to children actually knowing a mother’s whole self. This isn’t a funny novel, but there is certainly wit, and as it is buried in grief and loss, it hits you even harder and catches you by surprise. A beautiful family saga that makes you ache for the victims of words unsaid throughout generations. Highly highly recommend. 

Vacation Review: The Child by Fiona Barton

This one comes to from Tennessee where we are visiting family on our way back to Wisconsin. And the book comes out on June 27th!

4 Stars!

Loved this one! It’s a smart thriller and I always like reporters solving crimes, so I was set up to connect with the story. I can’t review it very well without spoilers so I’ll just say that it very much kept me guessing but also wrapped it all up for me at the end. A very enjoyable and fast-paced read! If you read The Widow (I haven’t) by this author you will love this since lots of other reviews are saying this one is even better!

Thanks to Edelweiss for the digital review copy – all opinions are my own.

Nerdy Book Club – Picture Books about Yoga

Screenshot 2017-04-07 15.17.36

I’m on Nerdy Book Club again today, and this time the post is a round up of picture books about YOGA! Head on over and take a look!

If you are interested in my other Nerdy Book Club posts, here they are!

#ownvoices, Windows and Mirrors

10 Picture Book Series for Read Alouds




Vacation Review: City Mouse by Stacey Lender

 We are currently smack in the middle of Tropical Storm Cindy while in Gulf Shores, AL – not great for beach time, but great for reading! 

Remember, my vacation reviews don’t have links – you know where to buy books, right?

City Mouse falls perfectly and satisfyingly into the genre I call Mommy Lit – books solidly about and for the moms in the world. It is both an engaging and entertaining story of motherhood and marriage, but also a love letter to New York City and urban life as Jessica and her husband wrestle with the decision of where to live with young children. 

Jessica and Aaron are like so many parents who are desperately trying to do what they feel is best for their family but sometimes end up sacrificing their own sense of self and happiness in the process. And in this case, suburban drama and humor enter the picture as Jessica realizes that the ‘burbs are nowhere near as quiet and boring as she thought they would be! 

I identified so closely with Jessica’s working mom woes and laughed out loud at some of the predicaments she found herself in, but the part that sealed the 4th star for me was the addition of the Hamilton subplot. It is such a timely and smart part of the story and ties in perfectly with Jessica’s job as a Broadway advertising executive. 

Highly recommend this book for all my mom reading friends and especially for those who appreciate NYC and the theater world. I can’t wait to read more from this author!

I received a finished copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes – all opinions are my own. 

Vacation Review: The Sisters Chase by Sarah Healy

Vacation reviews mean I’m not supposed to be blogging and should be back on the beach! No official descriptions or links – you know where to find all that, right?

This was a great beach read ~ I finished it in one long beach session!

Some books grab me right away and won’t let go, and this one certainly was that kind of book for me. I love books like this that are quietly suspenseful without being shocking and books with characters I just get right away. 

I connected instantly with Mary and her life of growing up way too early and having to do anything, ANYTHING, to keep her sister safe, fed and secure. While things she did were shocking, I understand her motivation completely. 

A tale of family, tragedy, and doing the absolute best you can when life is stacked against you. 

Highly recommend to readers of family drama. 

And my choice to read it while on vacation in the Gulf was perfect since a lot of important scenes in the book take place here!

So glad I chose this as one of my Book of the Month Club picks for June!

Vacation Review: White Fur 


Vacation Review #1 

I’m not providing official book descriptions in vacation reviews ~   I trust you know where to find it if you want it!


So, let me preface this with the fact that this is NOT my normal read and I know many of my read-alike friends might not want to follow me on this sordid and graphic-sex-laden trip down the rabbit hole that is Elise and Jamey’s relationship……BUT. BUT. 

Sometimes reading outside and waaaay past our comfort zone stretches our world and more importantly our empathy. I actually hated this story, while very much appreciating the writing, for the first 100 pages……and then as soon as the story moved to NYC Elise started getting under my skin. And then more of her history was revealed. And then I’m like, oh NOW I know who she is and why she is. And then I grew to love her fierce determination to MAKE IT, damn it. 

And then I couldn’t stop reading through the madness and finished this book with the last 25 pages spent with my phone flashlight lighting the pages with a pillow over my head so it wouldn’t disturb my husband driving in the dark because I HAD TO find out how it ended.

 I can honestly say I’ve never read a book with c u next Tuesday (c’mon, I’m a school librarian- I can’t even speak that word!) used so often and it jarred me…..but jarring can be good when it’s accompanied by literary force as this is. 

Anyway, if you are willing to make the commitment to riding the White Fur emotional roller coaster, PLEASE tell me what you think of it!

Thanks to Blogging for Books for this review copy!

VACATION plus some Instagram YA Reviews

We are leaving on vacation later today and I am completely out of time and have zero sitting or blogging stamina in this state of excitement (and also still have to drive the hedgehog and border collie to their respective vacation homes – MY LIFE)……..

So, with that being said, here are my YA reads from this week Instagram-style……..if you can’t see them for some reason in your email or your reader, I know the review text shows up in the browser so try that!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5 ~ YA out June 13 ~ Add this to high school required reading lists IMMEDIATELY. A story of the boy soldiers captured by Joseph Kony's rebel army in Uganda. Eye opening and heartbreaking, Soldier Boy is not a book we want to exist, given that it's a semi-factual account of horrifying events (Ricky's account is true, while the other narrator Samuel is a compilation of the thousands of boy soldiers Ricky has helped). However, given that these child soldiers are real and suffering, and Ricky Richard Anywar is a real person doing real work to help rehabilitate these child soldiers, this book needs to be read. It's not an easy read, given the graphic depictions of killing, rape and mutilation, but it is a fast read in the sense that you want to keep turning the pages. It's written at a perfect level for high school, as well as for adult readers like me who are new to reading about this ongoing tragedy. While the descriptions may be graphic, the events happened and need to be understood by more people worldwide. If we expose US students to book after book about the horrors of the Holocaust, it is our duty to share this story as well. Please read this. You will squirm and cry and want to believe this is fiction. You may need to spread it out over several days because it's so heavy, but please read it. •*•*•*•*•*•*•*•*•*•*•*•* Thanks to the publisher for sending me an ARC of this title – all opinions are my own. @fsgbooks #ya #ireadya #youngadult #highschool #coffee

A post shared by Kate Olson (@theloudlibrarylady) on

🍑 FOUR STARS ✨ "Faith is important to a lot of the world and for far too many queer youth, growing up with religion can be a painful experience. I wanted this novel to be something a young queer person of faith could hold on to as a bright spot while they navigate the waters of finding themselves" (from the author's note at the end of the book). •*•*•*•*•*•*•*•*•*•*• BRAVO! Anything we can do as teachers, parents, authors, faith leaders, ANYONE to reassure youth that it is okay to be who they are, is vital in this time of political uncertainty about acceptance and rights for all. •*•*•*•*•*•*•*•*•*•* Jo's story is both tender, funny and fairly racy, while also being incredibly faith-oriented. This is something I rarely, if ever, see in mainstream-publishing YA. (Note: I am not a practicing Christian, but I do read a LOT of YA and try to cover a diverse range of religions). It is a wonderful example for teens that faith doesn't demand perfection and faith should be about acceptance rather than hate. Jo and her friends are delightfully Southern and also raunchy and just………well, teens. Coming out in a small Southern Baptist town has probably never been quite so delightful, but I certainly wish it could be so! •*•*•*•*•*•*•*•*•*•* "And if you are an ally reading this book, stand up for your queer friends and don't make room for hate in your belief systems." 👏 (also from author's note in book) #readproud #lgbtq 🌈 #ya #ireadya #youngadult #church #religion @jayerobinbrown

A post shared by Kate Olson (@theloudlibrarylady) on

Not sure if I will blog at all while on vacation, but if I do it will be quick and easy and probably picture-style! Stay tuned to my Instagram (especially my stories, I have fallen in love with Instagram Stories!) for vacation pictures and my vacation reads!

In addition to my HUGE bag of books I have packed, here is my Kindle Vacation TBR!

Oh, and 1 more thing – an AMAZING NEW MIDDLE GRADE book by Abby Cooper is out on July 3rd and I have teamed up with a giant group of bookstagrammers to spread the word with a giveaway starting July 2nd! If you haven’t read Abby’s first book Sticks and Stones do so NOW. Bubbles is coming out on July 3rd!!!! Also, my daughter and Abby have become pen pals and it is the best thing ever. See M’s review of Bubbles below! Mine is up on Goodreads (5 STARS) and will be posted here on July 2nd!

File_000 (6)

And now………..


Before We Were Yours Giveaway 

Yes, ANOTHER giveaway! This one is for one of my favorite recent historical fiction novels – I reviewed it here last week, but I’m sharing the description and my opinion again below! Giveaway information at the bottom of the post.

Also, the publisher has released a brand-new digital book club kit for Before We Were Yours which you can download here. The kit includes:

  • A Note from Lisa
  • Historical Images
  • Food & drink ideas for book club events
  • Q&A with Lisa
  • A music playlist for book club events
  • Discussion questions


BeforeWeWereYoursBefore We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
(Ballantine – June 6, 2017)


Two families, generations apart, are forever changed by a heartbreaking injustice in this poignant novel, inspired by a true story, for readers of Orphan Train and The Nightingale.

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize that the truth is much darker. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together—in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions—and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation . . . or redemption.

Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals—in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country—Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.


Heartbreaking and historically accurate, this story 100% lives up to the descriptions of being for fans of Orphan Train and The Nightingale. This is being added to my “Best of 2017” list, as well as my “Best Historical Fiction” list – I anticipate it being a top book club pick for years and years to come.

Wingate has done a phenomenal job of creating a fictional family to entwine with the true story of Georgia Tann and her despicable methods of obtaining (stealing) children for profit through the Tennessee Children’s Home Society from the 1920s-1950s. The Foss family, as Wingate describes, are entirely fictional, as is Avery Stafford and the Stafford family. However, they represent the demographics of the families involved in this little-known horrible part of US history, and help this story reach an untold number of new readers. There is a very thorough author’s note (more like a chapter) at the end of the book answering the inevitable question, “How much of this story is true?” that will satisfy the most curious of readers (like me!).

Required reading this summer – order it or request from your library now!

Thanks to NetGalley for the digital ARC – all opinions are my own.


Yet again, we are running the giveaway on Instagram – here is the link and all the info to enter – good luck!!! It runs through Thursday, June 15 2017 at midnight CST.

🎉 GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED – THANKS FOR ENTERING! 🎉 I have teamed up with the lovely @prose_and_palate yet again – this time for an amazing giveaway of the brand-new novel "Before We Were Yours" by @author_lisa_wingate ! We are SO EXCITED to have 2 advance reader copies of this book to give to our reading friends here. This book was published on June 6 and is featured in this week’s People magazine as one of The Best New Books out now. Many thanks to @penguinrandomhouse for providing us with these copies! *•*•*•*•*•*•*•*•*•*•*•* We have both read this 5 STAR incredibly powerful historical fiction novel and can't wait to share it with you – it will break your heart and you WILL need tissues handy……. •*•*•*•*•*•*•*•*•*•*•* To enter, please do the following (open to addresses in US and Canada only): *•*•*•*•*•*•*•*•*•* 1) Follow @author_lisa_wingate @theloudlibrarylady @prose_and_palate (yes, all 3 of us!!!) 2) like this post 3) Comment in the section below and tag two reading buddies. You can enter as many times as you'd like, just have to tag 2 different people each entry. ***for an extra entry, also like and comment and tag on the giveaway post on @prose_and_palate account too! ***another way to get an extra entry is by sharing our giveaway posts in your IG stories, tagging us, and sending your #bookstagram friends to our giveaway posts! •*•*•*•*•*•*•*•*•*•*•*•* The giveaway will run through midnight CST on Thursday, June 15th – enter now, this is a short one!. This giveaway is not affiliated with Instagram. GOOD LUCK!

A post shared by Kate Olson (@theloudlibrarylady) on