Top Ten Tuesday: Back to School Freebie

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

What’s up everyone! I know you are all nursing that crick in your neck from looking up for so long at the solar eclipse yesterday afternoon but we are gonna come back down a little closer to home and talk about books again! We have another Top Ten Tuesday hosted by those awesome gals over at The Broke and the Bookish. Now last week we talked about ten book recommendations for students, more specifically required books while we were in school, since most schools are starting up right now. Well, we didn’t realize this week was a Back to School Freebie, so we are going to change it up just slightly this week. Our top ten books this week are going to comprise of books we think should be required to read in school.


My choices are definitely more geared towards high school students. I am thinking upperclassmen, and maybe even in to those entry level English classes you are required to take your freshman year of college. Most of these books are of the historical genre, but I think sometimes that is where we do our biggest growing. They deal with some rather tough topics, but it’s because of some of these books that I learned a little bit more about things completely outside of my world. Obviously some of these books might be a bit triggering for some students, but I think the lessons in these books and the worlds they show are so incredibly important for us. I think students would be even more set on the road of becoming better people by reading and really digging in to these books.

The Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticat | In the Time of Butterflies by Julia Alvarez | In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer by Irene Gut Opdyke | A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness | Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys


My choices are also geared more towards high-schooler’s. While I wanted to include a few classics in here, I do feel like some more modern books were worthy of being a required read for a student. There are so many lessons that can be taught from these books and its not just about right and wrong. It’s life lessons that can affect you not only in your childhood but in your adult life. I think these books can help students understand how their choices can affect others and hopefully it helps them become better people.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak | One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus | The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot | The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom | The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Question: What are some books you think should be required to read by students?

Throwback Thursday: Tunes on Repeat

Throwback Thursday

Welcome back to another Throwback Thursday. If you remember, a couple weeks ago we said that this is something we would do a few times throughout the month. Two weeks ago we talked about some of our favorite fantasy books from our childhood (and excluded Harry Potter because that’s just a no brainer). Today we are throwing it back to some of the music that we could not stop playing. The music that made our moms yell at us to turn it down and then continually share with the world how obnoxious our music was (PS we love our moms!).

So, what cd do we remember playing constantly until everyone in the house was sick of it?


Oh gosh, what do I even pick? Well…as a middle schooler I went through a lot of changes. I know most middle schoolers go through changes, but not all also have their dad die. So yea, I had a lot going on. After my dad passed I started to get a little “emo,” if you can call it that really. I started listening to stuff that I thought was super dark and songs that I felt just really got me. I loved my pop music, but it just wasn’t doing it for me anymore. I think this was the beginning of my journey into the pop punk and emo genre. It all began with…Good Charlotte.


I was 100% obsessed with these albums, but once they hit album number 4 I had decided they sold out. Yep, I was that kid. I decided that they got me and that I was doing better because I had their music. My mom hated them. My sister loved them (which is good because we shared a bedroom at the time). We got to go to a concert when I was in 10th grade and I thought it was the best thing ever. So yea. Here are a few songs just to make you smile. Because I bet you wanted to listen to Good Charlotte today.


So I have been debating all day on what cd/artist I was going to pick. Would I go with a boy band that tore up my heart (*wink wink did you see what I did there) or would I pick some good 90’s country artist. Well I decided neither of those and went with a classic group who most people love and I am so glad that my parents made me listen to their music…the amazing Queen.

So many good memories listening to Queen on road-trips with my family. Asking my parents to play the “thunder bolts and lightening” song, which was what we called Bohemian Rhapsody or singing along to We Are the Champions when our sports team won a big game! I am so glad my parents shared all their great music that they grew up to with us as kids. There music is so unique and has so much power behind it. They were on a whole different level and there will never be another artist like Freddy Mercury. Ever. So to make your day a little better, here is a few songs to jam out to on your fabulous Thursday:

Question: What are some cds or artists that you couldn’t stop playing?


Lets talk about….The Waking Land by Callie Bates

the waking landLady Elanna Valtai is fiercely devoted to the King who raised her like a daughter. But when he dies under mysterious circumstances, Elanna is accused of his murder and must flee for her life.
Returning to the homeland of magical legends she has forsaken, Elanna is forced to reckon with her despised, estranged father, branded a traitor long ago. Feeling a strange, deep connection to the natural world, she also must face the truth about the forces she has always denied or disdained as superstition powers that suddenly stir within her.
But an all-too-human threat is drawing near, determined to exact vengeance. Now Elanna has no choice but to lead a rebellion against the kingdom to which she once gave her allegiance. Trapped between divided loyalties, she must summon the courage to confront a destiny that could tear her apart.

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I received a copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not sway my opinion in any way.

My Initial Reaction:

While this book wasn’t a huge hit with me, I definitely wasn’t mad that I read it. I saw a lot of potential throughout the book and I really did enjoy the magic and the basic premise of the story. The only thing I wasn’t so keen on was that I had a hard time falling in love with the characters.

My Overall Reaction:

The main premise of this book is that Elanna, our main heroine, is a girl who grew up as a political prisoner in a country that has taken over her homeland. She now considers the King who captured her more of a father then her actual father (we will get to this a bit later). The one thing nobody knows though is that she has hidden powers that allow her to control the earth around her. I enjoyed this form of magic that she portrays throughout the book and (without giving away too much) I love how she grows into these powers. I also like that she wants to be a botanist and learn about plants, which goes along with her powers. But all of these plans she sees for herself are thrown out the window when the king is mysteriously killed and she is blamed for it. She is now thrown back into the life she thought she would never know and goes on a wild adventure to prove her innocence and free her homeland from the country she thought was home.

This story had a great base to it but I felt at times it fell flat. I wasn’t as keen on all the relationships throughout the book, I didn’t feel like I wanted to root for any one character or relationship to happen. She flipped/flopped a lot with how she felt about characters. For instance, it seemed that Elanna wanted a good relationship with her father one moment and at other times she would totally forget about him and act like he never mattered to her. It was confusing at times. I did enjoy her adventure throughout the land though, and how she had to meet all different types of people in her homeland, it helped her rediscover the place she was born and was meant to be in. It also helped her discover the magic that has always lived inside her.

Another downfall for me was that the story itself sometimes felt like it was being dragged along and some parts probably could have been cut out or condensed. Mostly this was because of repetition of thoughts and feelings over one character that I felt could have been summed up in a couple pages, when in fact, it took a few chapters. But all in all, a good writing style that helped build a good picture in my mind. Overall I gave this book 3/5 stars. While it wasn’t my favorite book, I would definitely read something again by Callie Bates in the future.

This book came out July 4th, 2017, I think it deserves a chance if your looking for a book to read.

Question: Have you read this book? What are your thoughts?



Top Ten Tuesday: Book Recommendations for Students

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

Hey everyone we are back!!! And we are so happy to be doing another Top Ten Tuesday hosted by those lovely ladies over at The Broke and The Bookish. This week the theme is ten book recommendations for a group of our choosing. Since we are getting into mid-August (I know we can’t believe summer has gone by this fast either!), we decided to do ten book recommendations for students. More specifically we are going to each do five recommendations of our favorite required reads from when we were in school. We don’t know about you but we definitely had a few really good reads that were required when we are in school, so we hope that you can enjoy them too!



The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald | The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis | To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee | Was God on Vacation? by Jack Van Der Geest | Beowulf by Unknown


The Outsiders by SE Hinton | The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi | The War of the Worlds by HG Wells | The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien | Frankenstein by Mary Shelley


Question: What book did you most enjoy reading in school?


Words We Read (3)


Words We Read is a feature that we created to share various book quotes we read that really mean a lot to us. For more information and past posts you can head over here.

This week I am sharing a quote from a book series that I absolutely devoured. I was very into dystopian type of books, and the Legend series by Marie Lu really hit me at that time of my life. I loved the action, the intensity, and the characters. The relationships that develop between the main characters and the drama that is happening all around them…this made it an absolute page turner for me. I binge so few series, and this was on that I dove into and didn’t leave until I was done.

Today’s quote is one that has hit me a lot lately. The past few weeks have been pretty miserable for me. I have really struggled mentally and felt like I was dragging everyone else down. I had found myself stuck in a vicious cycle of negative thinking and I couldn’t get out. This quote reminded me that I can. That each day is a fresh start and with each fresh start comes the opportunity to try again.

Each day means a new twenty-four hours. Each day means everything’s possible again. You live in the moment, you die in the moment, you take it all one day at a time.

Legend by Marie Lu


QUESTION: What is one of your favorite quotes from a dystopian book?


Throwback Thursday: Fantasy Week

Hey everyone!


Sorry we have been gone lately, been pretty busy with outside life. We recently had a little brainstorm session and are excited with some of the ideas we came up with to move this awesome page forward. Good thing is, you don’t have to wait long to see some of the new stuff we are going to do here at Midwestern Book Nerd. Welcome to….THROWBACK THURSDAY!

Throwback Thursday

We were inspired by that fantastic social media trend of sharing some type of throwback on Thursday. We can’t even begin to tell you how often we have participated in it in other places, so why not do it here? We are going to go back and talk about everything that we enjoyed as kids whether that be books, movies, music or even some random topics. We always love to talk/reflect on things we loved doing as kids and we want to share those awesome memories with you!

To start things off… in honor of Fantasy week in the book world, we are telling you about our favorite Fantasy novels we read as kids.


the lion the witch and the wardrobe

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis – Growing up, I always loved the book fair at school. Tons of different books I could choose from and my parents would let me get a few books each year. Well I remember having to read this in the 5th grade and I got the whole box set for the Chronicles of Narnia from the book fair. I absolutely loved them and will definitely be reading these to my kids someday. There was something magical about going to another land where you become kings and queens and help stop an evil queen from ruining the lives of everyone. We even got to go see the play after we read the book. I always recommend this book to kids in elementary school because it is a great story that they can easily read or can read along with parents. It definitely makes my top 5 list for best Fantasy series ever written!


24337Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine – I have said it time and time again, I am a sucker for fairy tales and retellings. If I had to pick a book in my childhood that started it all I would have to say it was this one. My mom picked this book up for me on a whim, knowing that it sounded like a totally Emily book (I was a BIG princess fan as a kid). She was 100% right. I fell completely and totally in love with Ella of Frell. I was hooked instantly and found myself immersed in her world, laughing with her and cheering her on as she worked her way out of terrible situations. This was also the first time I had a fictional crush (thanks Char) and found myself swept away by a romance that I knew just needed to happen! After I finished this book my mom bought me more books by Gail Carson Levine and after I devoured those I searched the shelves of the library, because those books made me feel so good and I wanted that feeling again. To this day I still list it as one of my favorite books. I may not have LOVED the movie adaptation (they ended up being two totally different things with a few similar elements) but I loved the book and shoved it into the hands of anyone interested.

QUESTION: Do you have a favorite fantasy book from your childhood?

Make Me (Emily) Read It!

Hey everyone! I have been struggling in my reading life as of late. Not really sure what is going on, but I just can’t seem to sit and focus on my reading. I absolutely love the books that I have read this summer, so you can see why I am so confused.

Thankfully this really cool readathon was brought to my attention. The Make Me Read It Readathon is hosted by Val at The Innocent Smiley and Ely at Tea & Titles. This is my first time participating in it, but their 3rd year of doing it. I am super excited for this.


Basically, for the week of August 6th-August 13th I will read the books that YOU choose for me. In my poll I have 5 listed and am HOPING to read the top 2, but will continue on to the rest if I find I am flying through these books. It was tough to decide what to put in this poll, because there are so many books that I am dying to read. But with me being unable to decide this is the perfect challenge to join. I picked a random 5 books from my TBR that I own and am leaving them in the poll below for you to pick.

My poll closes the day before the readathon starts, so vote away my friends! Thanks for your help. I am super excited about this!


Words We Read (2)


Words We Read is a feature that we created to share various book quotes we read that really mean a lot to us. For more information and past posts you can head over here.

This week I am sharing a quote from a book written by a favorite actress of mine, Lauren Graham. I absolutely loved her in Gilmore Girls and I have tried my hardest to follow her throughout her career elsewhere. I read her debut novel, Someday, Someday, Maybe, and really enjoyed it. Her nonfiction, Talking As Fast As I Can, really hit me.

Throughout the book she shared the ups and downs of life, the struggles of trying to make it and failing every now and then. In this book she became a real person to me, and someone that I kind of found I could relate to. It was amazing to listen to her talk about what it was like to film the reboot, and I think that gave me a whole new perspective on it and what it meant to everyone who was a part of it.

While reading, well actually listening, to this book there was one quote in particular that stuck me. To this day it is something I think about as I deal with various things in my life.


QUESTION: What are some of your favorite quotes from a memoir?


3 Reasons to Read: No Good Deed by Kara Connolly

no good deedEllie Hudson is the front-runner on the road to gold for the U.S. Olympic archery team. All she has to do is qualify at the trials in jolly old England. When Ellie makes some kind of crazy wrong turn in the caverns under Nottingham Castle—yes, that Nottingham—she ends up in medieval England.

Ellie doesn’t care how she got to the Middle Ages; she just wants to go home before she gets the plague. But people are suffering in Nottingham, and Ellie has the skills to make it better. What’s an ace archer to do while she’s stuck in Sherwood Forest but make like Robin Hood?

Pulled into a past life as an outlaw, Ellie feels her present fading away next to daring do-gooding and a devilishly handsome knight. Only, Ellie is on the brink of rewriting history, and when she picks up her bow and arrow, her next shot could save her past—or doom civilization’s future.

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*We both received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way changes our thoughts.*

Our reactions after finishing:


I am a fanatic when it comes to any kind of retelling. And when I saw the description for No Good Deed, I knew I would need to read it. Especially it being Robin Hood. I mean, who doesn’t love adventures in the medieval times with some awesome archery skills included! I have to say this was a different retelling then I am used to…but I really enjoyed it and I was entertained by all the characters in the book. Whether I was laughing out loud at Will Scarlett, or holding my breath when Ellie decided to try a crazy shot with her bow, there were many enjoyable moments in Nottingham. And with that, here are my 3 reasons you should grab this book.

  1. Humor: There was a good bit of humor, especially in the scenes with Will Scarlet. Oh there were a few times that I was actually laughing out loud. I really enjoyed all the scenes with Robin’s “Merry Men” and even had a few giggles when Ellie had to try and explain herself because of how she acted (the darn time travel).
  2. Main Character: Ellie was a very relate-able and cool main character. She is a competitive athlete in archery and is actually in the Olympics at the beginning of the book, which was a good set up for this story. I was immediately drawn to her and really loved her witty sense of humor when communicating with other characters. I also really enjoyed how she adapted to the time travel, being a 21st century young adult in the 1200’s would have seemed impossible for me!
  3. Setting: I am a sucker for stories set in England/The United Kingdom. I have always loved that area of the world and especially the folktales that come from that area during the medieval time period. It seems like it is always a good adventure going on and this book was no exception. Camping out in the woods, being in a convent, or even the Nottingham castle where the infamous sheriff lived, there was a lot of different places explored in the book. All the descriptions transported me across time and places, and I never felt bored.


Time Travel + Robin Hood retelling!? Sign. Me. Up. I am a sucker for Robin Hood retellings and just knew that I had to read it. Honestly…I was not disappointed. This was a very unique and fast paced retelling that had me constantly guessing. I read this book in just a few short sittings, which is not normal for me. I was completely sucked into this version of Nottingham and the adventures that Ellie had. So…what are my 3 reasons that you should pick up this book?

  1. Time Traveling Robin Hood: Ok, I know I kind of already said that but hear me out. This book started in the modern day with Ellie at an archery  competition. In a twist of events Ellie finds herself back in the time of the Robin Hood legend in wonderful Nottingham. Time travel is tough for me, but this one really got me. I love that we didn’t get a plot where Ellie just magically fit in. We see her struggle with being much more modern than everyone else. Her speech, her verbal expressions, everything was a bit too much for the time period. I think that this really added to the story and to Ellie as she worked her way through this story.
  2. Strong characters: I really found that I came to love Ellie. It’s not shocking that I love the characters of the Robin Hood legend (remember…I’m a sucker for it), but Ellie was a struggle. At the beginning I was none to thrilled with her. I thought she was kind of whiny and just not handling things well. Throughout this book we ended up seeing Ellie grow, and in turn she started to become my favorite character. She learned so much and became a stronger and more independent character that we had seen at the beginning of the book.
  3. Adventure: This book really just felt like I was going on an adventure. I felt like I was sucked in with Ellie running around Nottingham and hanging out with all those characters I have read about so many times. It made me think that I should really learn archery, and it really gave me the urge to get up a do something. Because of this book such an adventure I felt the pacing was perfect. It moved constantly with the plot which really helped give it that adventurous feel. This book was a great getaway from the real world, and if that is something that you want then I highly recommend it!

We think it’s safe to say that we both really enjoyed this book. We weren’t entirely sure what we would get when diving into this book because this Robin Hood tale is so special to us, but we were pleasantly surprised. This book comes out on July 18th! You should definitely get your hands on a copy soon!

QUESTION: What are some of your favorite retellings?

Let’s Talk About…The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord


When it all falls apart, who can you believe in?

Everything is going right for Lucy Hansson, until her mom’s cancer reappears. Just like that, Lucy breaks with al


l the constants in her life: her do-good boyfriend, her steady faith, even her longtime summer church camp job.

Instead, Lucy lands at a camp for kids who have been through tough times. As a counselor, Lucy is in over her head and longs to be with her parents across the lake. But that’s before she gets to know her coworkers, who are as loving and unafraid as she so desperately wants to be.

It’s not just new friends that Lucy discovers at camp—more than one old secret is revealed along the way. In fact, maybe there’s much more to her family and her faith than Lucy ever realized.

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Initial reaction upon finishing:

Wow. I really am not even sure where to start this. Originally I wasn’t going to post anything, but this book hit me so close to home that I really can’t help but share. I closed this books with tears in my eyes, tears that found another book that I could relate to so much. Throughout this story you follow Lucy as she is trying to navigate her life after finding out her mom was diagnosed with cancer for a 2nd time. To have your world rocked a 2nd time…that would be tough. The 1st time is hard enough as is, but to know the possibilities of everything all over again is something I cannot even comprehend.

Now…I will try to put into words a few of the things that I absolutely loved about this book.

  1. I could relate to this book so much. My father was diagnosed with cancer when I was 13, and the feelings and emotions that Lucy has in this book are exactly what I have had. I felt betrayed just like Lucy. I questioned God and why in the world He stopped listening to my prayers. My relationships with people changed and my outlook on life changed. If you haven’t been through this experience I would highly suggest this book for that reason alone. The topic of faith and religion wasn’t over the top, and though I am a religious person myself I don’t think that it was at all in your face. On top of that, the depiction of someone fighting with cancer seemed real to me. There were no ribbons, no walks, but sickness. Because people with cancer are sick. They lose their hair and lose weight. They throw up because chemo makes them sick and foods just stop tasting good. Though this book doesn’t go into the nitty gritty, it does give you that image of things not being perfect. This book got real in those areas and I think that was really important.
  2. There were some awesome characters. I related to Lucy so much in so many ways, as I have already said. But Lucy is so much more than her grief and her situation. Throughout the book we see Lucy grow, discover, and learn so much about her life and the world around. She becomes a strong individual, ready to tackle any of life problems. This growth is definitely in thanks to her friends that she makes at Daybreak. All of these characters felt real to me. They broke down and took breaks. They were sarcastic but also serious. They were there for each other no matter what happened. Each one has a complex background filled with challenges they had to overcome, but none of that seemed forced. Everything flowed and their relationships really worked so well together. I just adored this group and I want to be a part of it.
  3. Emery Lord just has a way with words. Within the first few pages I was sucked in. The words flowed and they hit me. They hit me in so many ways that I found myself diving in for more. A few of my favorite quotes…

    “Here’s what I am learning: Sometimes, the bg changes seem to happen in small, fast moments. A diagnosis. A breakup. A crush. But usually, there was something there – underlying, building up – all along.”

    Hasn’t Daybreak shown me, day after day, that people can outlast unbelieveable pain? That human hearts are like noble little ants, able to carry so much more weight that you’d expect.”

    “It is not the type of love that ends.”

In the end, this book was everything I wanted and an excellent reminder of why I love Emery Lord’s books. I felt like this book was written directly for me. It gave me so many things to think about and almost gave me a little bit of closure on old wounds that have been there for a long time.

I think everyone needs to read this book. It will give you an account of grief that you can’t find in a lot of places. It will give you something real, raw, and something that I went through (as well as many others). Definitely pick up this book.

QUESTION: What are some of your favorite contemporaries?