Welcome to Silver Street Farm by Nicola Davies

Welcome to Silver Street Farm
Author:  Nicola Davies
Length:  72 pages
Genre:  Children’s Literature

“Gemma says that it started with eating jelly beans on the merry-go-round in the park. Karl says no, it started with Auntie Nat’s poodles. But Meera knows that the real beginning of Silver Street Farm was their very first day of kindergarten in Mrs. Monty’s class.”  (pg.1) And so begins the story of how three children and some interesting circumstances bring about a farm in their city. Funny and creative, children will have fun reading this book.

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens


Title David Copperfield
Author:  Charles Dickens
Length:  791 pages
Genre:  Classic Literature
Content Notes:  This is a long book; but the length shows the author’s ability to really develop the characters.

In this classic novel, Dickens tells the life story of David Copperfield. He does a superb job of developing the characters and leaving no loose ends when you finish the last chapter. The novel deals with a fair bit of heavy issues:  hardship and cruelty, poverty, death, loss, scandal, and misplaced love. However, it’s also filled with themes of enduring friendship, unconditional love, forgiveness, kindness, and strength of character to overcome. This is obviously not a light read; yet, Dickens manages to make it feel less heavy at times by sprinkling in humor here and there. Don’t let the length cause you to look over this book. While there may be some wordiness at times, it’s truly a well-written classic.

Quotes from the Book

Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.

My meaning simply is, that whatever I have tried to do in life, I have tried with all my heart to do well; that whatever I have devoted myself to, I have devoted myself to completely; that in great aims and in small, I have always been thoroughly in earnest.

Robert Frost’s Poems


Title Robert Frost’s Poems
With an Introduction and Commentary by Louis Untermeyer
Length:  275 pages
Genre:  Poetry

This book is not just a book full of poems; it is also filled with commentary that gives insight into Frost’s poetry. With me not being a big poetry person, the commentary was really helpful. I didn’t like everything written by Frost that was included in this book; but this book shows the wide range of ability Frost had in crafting poetry in its different forms. What surprised me was that Frost even wrote some fairly creepy poems. Who knew he had some Edgar Allen Poe in him!

Quotes from the Book

A complete poem is one where an emotion has found its thought, and the thought has found the words.” Robert Frost  (pg. 220)

What’s Helping Me Right Now

Last week, Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy talked about what’s saving her life right now.  Then she offered for everyone to join with her in sharing what’s saving our lives right now. These are things that are breathing life into us right now, things that are helping us get through the dreary and cold days of winter.

For the past month, we’ve had day upon day upon day of grey, overcast days…some even quite darker than the average overcast day. We’ve had back to back days of rain at times too. I like to see sun shining through my windows and these seemingly nonstop days of grey skies can make a person feel just plain’ole blah. So these are a couple of things that have really helped me right now.


Reading and Talking about Books

I know I love to read and love books and read all.the.time. But especially right now, reading and talking with friends about books is helping me through these dreary, grey days. Recently, a friend and I have been texting back and forth about what we’re reading, what we’ve read, and books we’d like to read. It’s so fun!

I’ve read some good books already in January. And these grey days are good for curling up on the couch, in front of the fireplace, snuggled in a warm blanket, reading. Obviously I can’t do this all day long (wouldn’t that be nice sometimes? 🙂 )…..but I thoroughly enjoy the moments in the day when I can.


I love coffee! But there’s something about a warm cup of coffee on a dark, dreary day…especially when it’s coupled with a good book or a good movie/show!

Sunshine Moments

Here and there amidst the grey clouds, the sun occassionally tries to pop out. When it does, nothing feels better than to turn my face towards the window and the sunshine, close my eyes, and soak in that sunshine. Sometimes, the sunshine will peak through the grey and shine through the window that my desk sits in front of. In those moments, I like to just sit at my desk, close my eyes, and do nothing but enjoy that little bit of sunshiny happiness. 🙂

Trips to the Bookstore

I love going to the bookstore. Sometimes with a book in mind…sometimes just because. Just the other day, it was so grey and dreary outside that I told my daughter, “I think we need a trip to the bookstore, what do you think?” Of course she said “Yes!” She loves going to the bookstore just as much as I do. So after dinner, off we went. It was just what we needed.

These are just a few of the things that have really helped me during this winter season. What has been helping you?

What I’ve Been Reading – January 2017

This is just a quick look at books I read in January.

robert-frosts-poemsRobert Frost’s Poems
With an Introduction and Commentary by Louis Untermeyer

Reading for Growth Reading Challenge Category
A Book of Poetry, a Play, or an Essay Collection

I am not a big poetry person; so I am trying to be more intentional about incorporating more poetry into my reading life. What I liked about this book is that it contained commentary that gave insight into Frost’s poetry. While I didn’t like every poem in the book, I did have some favorites. My favorite poems were Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening, The Road Not Taken, and A Time to Talk.   READ MORE

david-copperfieldDavid Copperfield
By Charles Dickens

Reading for Growth Reading Challenge Category 
A Book That’s More Than 600 Pages

I started to read David Copperfield several years ago but never finished it. I decided it was time to pick this one back up and start it all over again. In this classic novel, Dickens tells the life story of David Copperfield. He does a superb job of developing the characters and leaving no loose ends when you finish the last chapter.   READ MORE

By Jane Austen

Reading for Growth Reading Challenge Category
A Book Published Before You Were Born

I’ve seen I don’t know how many movie/mini-series productions of Jane Austen’s works. But until last year, I had not read any of her books in their entirety. I had tried to read several of them in years past but never finished any of them. Last year, I finally read Pride and Prejudice and loved it. I found that I didn’t like Persuasion quite as much as Pride and Prejudice though. It felt tedious to read at times with its wordiness. However, the novel grew on me and I think this is one I would read again.   READ MORE

the-bookshop-on-the-cornerThe Bookshop on the Corner
By Jenny Colgan

Reading for Fun Reading Challenge Category
A Book Set Somewhere You’ve Never Been But Would Like to Visit

England, Ireland, and Scotland are all places I’ve never been to but would love to visit sometime. And The Bookshop on the Corner happens to take place in England *and* Scotland. The main character, Nina, leaves her home in England to start a mobile bookstore in a small town in Scotland. This is a lighter read but has its moments of depth. (Heads up for language, course talk, and brief racy content.)   READ MORE

welcome-to-silver-street-farmWelcome to Silver Street Farm
By Nicola Davies

This is a cute children’s chapter book about three children who end up starting a farm in their city.

Keeping a Reading Journal

Last year, I shared about Commonplace notebooks and reading journals. And recently, I shared how keeping a reading journal can enhance your reading life. I’ve noticed that for me, sometimes reading and writing about a book work together. For example, I took some time this weekend to write more about the books I’ve read in January and as I was writing about David Copperfield, I noticed that I was processing my thoughts about the book even more while I was writing. Right when I finished reading the book, I needed time to think about it…time to decide what I thought about the book, time to think about themes and characters and decisions characters made. Yes, I do this while I’m reading; but I find that sometimes there are some books I need more time after I finish reading them to just process the books more. My reading journal sometimes helps with that.


So what do I put in my reading journal? Last year, I actually created my own reading journal printables that I used and I kept them all in a binder. This year, I’m keeping it simple by using a good ‘ole basic notebook, binder, and my book reading log printable. (You can grab a free book reading log I created HERE.)

Here’s what I did. First, I printed out my book log and also the reading challenge pages from the free reading kit I received from Modern Mrs. Darcy. I grabbed my binder, put my notebook in first and my reading log next. This is the same binder that has all my pages from last year’s reading journal; so a simple tab divider keeps them separate. In my notebook, the first couple of pages are for me to jot down titles of books I’d like to read. Then after that, I  glued in the blank reading challenge pages for me to log the books I read for that. Next, I created a pocket and this is where I keep the reading challenge pages I printed off that have the various book title options I have jotted down for each category. It’s also handy to have a little pocket to put miscellaneous papers in as well. If you just want to use a binder, you could just add in a couple of page protectors to use as pockets to hold papers.

From there, it’s just blank paper for me to jot down notes for the books I’m reading. At this point, I keep the notes in the notebook until I’ve finished reading and writing about the book. Then when I’m done, I tear out the pages, type up my notes, print it, then put it in the binder. Pretty simple. And extremely inexpensive!


What kinds of things could you write about books in your reading journal? You can keep it simple by just jotting down notes about the books you are reading. Or you can include a number of different things. There’s no one right way to keep a reading journal. 🙂 I will, though, share with you some things I typically include in my journal.

Book Information

I like to write down a few basic pieces of information about the book:

  • Title
  • Author
  • Genre
  • Pages

I usually write all of this at the top of the paper. It’s handy to have all this information written down, especially if it’s a book you checked out at the library and therefore don’t have a copy of the book yourself. If you want to recommend the book to someone, you’ll have all the pertinent information handy. Some other basic information you can include are the Publisher and the Publishing Date. You could jot down if this book was recommended and who it was recommended by. Also, you can include the date you started reading the book and the date when you finished the book. I log these dates on my book reading log; but I decided to also add this in my basic book information section in my journal.


This really is the main point of the journal….getting your thoughts about the book down on paper. In my journal you will find phrases and sentences, page numbers, character names, and more as I jot down anything from who different characters are while I’m reading (which is extremely helpful with books that introduce a lot of characters at once!), to page numbers for quotes I like, to thoughts I have about something from what I’ve read. Oftentimes, I won’t actually take the time to write out quotes while I’m reading. I will just jot down the page number and then go back after I’ve finished reading and write out the quote(s). But other times, I do stop and write the quotes down right then and there.So as you can see, I include a variety of things in my notes. These are just things *I* include. Your notes are just that:  *your* notes. Include the things *you* want to include. 🙂

Short Summary/Book Review

One of the things I’m working on this year is writing up short summaries of the books I’m reading. I’m trying to work on crafting short, simple overviews. However, you might like to do a more in-depth book review. Both of these are great things to include in your reading journal. What’s interesting is that even this can help in processing the book.


You could stop every so often and do a written narration of what you’ve just read. Basically, a written narration is telling back what you’ve just read in your own words but you do so in writing. This is not the same as writing down your thoughts about the book.


These are just a few simple suggestions of what you can include in your reading journal. Remember, there’s no one right way to keep a reading journal. It is *your* journal. 😉

If you keep a reading journal, I’d love to hear what things you include in it!


This and That – January 14, 2017

January is so fun because many people are writing about reading challenges and/or what books they might read for the year. I’m always looking for good books to read; so I love to see what books people are planning to read. I also enjoy seeing what others have to say about the books they’ve already read. Of course, this means that my to-read list just keeps growing! 😉


I decided not to do a separate post about which of my blog posts was most popular in 2016 but instead just mention it today. This is my blog post that got the most views in 2016:

Keeping a Commonplace Notebook

My Notebooks

When it comes to reading, I am a highlighter. I highlight in books a lot. But I also keep a commonplace book or what can be called a reading notebook. Actually, I keep two notebooks. One for only quotes…where I write down quotes from things I’m reading (books, articles, blog posts, etc.)…things I want to remember…things that stand out to me. And then I keep another notebook where I write quotes along with jotting down notes, writing out my thoughts, and sometimes writing summaries about what I’m reading…… READ MORE


Using a bullet journal is something I have yet to try. It seems to be the big thing right now in journaling. I’m intrigued. Are you interested in bullet journaling? Are you already using a bullet journal and would like to learn how to use it as a reading journal? On January 18th, Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy is teaching an online class called “Bullet Journaling for Book Lovers”. She’ll be talking about the basics of bullet journaling, how to use bullet journaling to enhance your reading life, and more. To find out more, stop by her blog and read her post Bullet journaling for book lovers.

Do any of you use a bullet journal? Do you use it with your reading?


I’m off and running with the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2017 Reading Challenge. I’ve already completed two books so far. Here’s what I’m currently reading:

Robert Frost Poems
The Brothers Karamazov
by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown (this is one I started in 2016 but never finished)

What are you currently reading?

Ways to Enhance Your Reading Life This Year (Plus Free Printables)

It’s no secret that I love books. I have books everywhere….on my desk, in the kitchen on a shelf, in the living room, on the table next to my bed, and of course on the multiple bookshelves we have. Between my youngest daughter and myself, we read a lot of books.

I’ve noticed that there are some things that have really enhanced my reading life. Among those things are:

  • Tracking the books I read
  • Keeping a Reading Journal


Reading Life Graphic.jpg

Tracking the Books You Read

Until last year, I wasn’t so great at tracking the books that I read. So one of my goals last year, along with trying to complete a reading challenge, was to be more intentional about keeping a list of the books I read. And you know what I found? Keeping a list of the books I read throughout the year really enhanced my reading life. How? Because it helped me see not only how many books I read (which actually surprised me!), but also it reflected the variety of books I read as well. And truly, there’s something to being able to look back at all the books you’ve read. It feels like a sense of accomplishment somehow.

Also, if you want to read more, it’s a good chance that keeping a list of what you are reading will actually encourage you to read more. So this year, if you want to enhance your reading life, start with keeping a list of the books you read.

Keeping a Reading Journal

I have kept a reading journal for quite awhile now; but I don’t always write about every single book I read. I do regularly write quotes in my commonplace notebook. The times I have jotted down things I loved or didn’t like about a book, the times I made a note of my opinion of a book or wrote a summary…I am so glad I did because it just added even more to my reading of that book.

“What we write, we remember. What we summarize in our own words becomes our own.”

From The Well-Educated Mind – pg. 35

If you want to add another component that will enhance your reading life, start a reading journal. It can be simple or it can be more indepth. It’s up to you. I hear bullet journals are great for this too. I hope to do another post soon where I’ll talk about what you can journal about in your reading journals. In the meantime, feel free to check out THIS POST I wrote awhile back.

Want to give these ideas a try? I’ve created two different reading logs that you can download to help you begin enhancing your reading life by tracking the books you read.

Does the thought of keeping a reading journal feel a bit overwhelming? Then Book Reading Log A is the one for you! I’ve included a small space for each book entry where you can make a few brief comments or notes about the book. Sometimes it helps to start off by keeping it simple. You can always write more if you want. Right?

If you plan to keep a reading journal and prefer a reading log with out a section for comments, then you can download Book Reading Log B. It is simply a reading log to keep track of all the books you read with no section for comments.

Choose which Book Reading Log you prefer, download it, and print off as many pages as you need. The first page of both logs has the title on it and the second page doesn’t. I created both pages because I like to have a title on the first page but not on all the subsequent pages I print out.   🙂

2017 Book Reading Log A (With Comments Section)

2017 Book Reading Log B (Without Comments Section)

Happy reading!

2017 Reading Challenge

I finally made a decision as to whether or not I want to participate in another reading challenge or just put together my own reading list for the year. *Drum roll please*…….I am going to participate in Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2017 Reading Challenge! This will be my second year participating in Modern Mrs. Darcy’s reading challenges and I’m excited about it!

This year, there are two challenges that you can choose from OR you can do both. I will be doing the Reading for Growth Challenge. And I can fulfill my own personal reading goals for 2017 with this challenge as well! Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if I read at least some books for the Reading for Fun Challenge. 🙂

So without further ado, here’s my initial list of possibilities for the categories. These are just ideas of what I *might* read. I will be listing several options for some categories; that doesn’t mean I’ll be reading all of the ones listed. They are simply options. Also, I’m participating in a local book club this year so some of those books (that have yet to be determined) might fit some categories. 🙂


A Newberry Award Winner or Honor Book

  • A Wrinkle in Time  by Madeleine L’Engle
  • The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

A Book in Translation

  • And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman

A Book That’s More than 600 Pages

  • The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

A Book of Poetry, a Play, or an Essay Collection

  • Robert Frost’s Poems
  • Our Town by Thornton Wilder (a play)
  • The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde (a play)

A Book of Any Genre that Addresses Current Events

  • Still to be determined

An Immigrant Story

  • Mama’s Bank Account by Kathryn Forbes

A Book Published Before You Were Born

  • Persuasion by Jane Austen
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Three Books by the Same Author

  • The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
    The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay

A Book by an #ownvoices or #diversebooks Author

  • The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood
    In one of the comments on Anne’s (Modern Mrs. Darcy) post on her picks for the challenge, this was one of the books asked about if it would work for this category. Anne said she remembered that in her interview with the author, the author had said that one of the main characters was based on her own experiences as a child. So she said to go for it. So I’m choosing it for my pick for this category. I’ve been wanting to read this book for awhile now.

A Book with an Unreliable Narrator or Ambiguous Ending

  • Til We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis
  • The Story of the Treasure Seekers by E. Nesbit
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

A Book Nominated for an Award in 2017

  • Still to be determined

A Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award Winner

  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  • The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson



Even though my focus for this year is the Reading for Growth Challenge, I have jotted down a few titles I’m interested in reading that would fit some categories in the Reading for Fun Challenge. I don’t know if I’ll get to these titles or not. We’ll see. 🙂

A Book Set Somewhere You’ve Never Been But Would Like to Visit

  • The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

A Book You’ve Already Read

  • The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

A Juicy Memoir

  • A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg
  • Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist

A Book About Books or Reading

  • 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

A Book in a Genre You Usually Avoid

For me, this would be detective type/mystery novels. I might try to stretch myself in this area this year. Here’s a couple of titles I’m considering:

  • The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
  • Favorite Father Brown Stories by G. K. Chesterton

A Book Recommended by Someone with Great Taste

  • Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

A Book You Were Excited to Buy or Borrow But Haven’t Read Yet

  • The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim
  • Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

A Book About a Topic or Subject You Already Love

Well, that would be books! LOL So since there’s already a category for this, I’ll put one of the titles here. 🙂

  • The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin


My Top Favorite Reads of 2016

Do you find it hard to pick favorite books sometimes? That’s how it is for me with trying to pick favorites from the books I read this year. I enjoyed a lot of the books; so picking favorites is not an easy thing to do! But I can say there are definitely some that rise to top of the favorites list. So, today I’m going to share some of my top favorites. I give all these books five stars.

The Giver Series by Lois Lowry

Until this year, I had never read any books in the dystopian genre. Then I chose The Giver for one of the reading challenge categories and went on to read the entire series. Each book in the series was hard for me to put down. I thought that Lois Lowry did an excellent job of taking different characters and storylines in the different books and weaving them all together in sometimes very unexpected ways. My husband listened to the audiobooks for this series and we were able to discuss the books together. These books tackle some pretty weighty issues which can bring about some good discussion. Also, the first book of this series, The Giver, was made into a movie. I thought the movie was really good, even though it does differ from the book some.

The Reading Promise

The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma

I can’t recommend this book enough. This was a re-read for me this year and I enjoyed it just as much the second time around as I did the first time I read it. This book illustrates the power of reading aloud and the power of books in general. You’ll find yourself drawn into the author’s world; sometimes you’ll be laughing …and sometimes you’ll be in tears. You’ll finish this book wanting to do your own reading streak. And if you don’t know what a reading streak is, you’ll have to read the book to find out. 😉


The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

This is undoubtedly one of my top favorites of the children’s literature I read this year. The writing is engaging and creative. The main character, Milo, thinks everything is boring. But a trip in the Phantom Tollbooth changes that! The writing is clever and witty with characters such as Tock, the ticking watch dog whose body has a clock on it (pictured on the cover of the book), and places such as the Island of Conclusions which you get to by jumping. The author’s play on words and development of characters is altogether genius. My daughter loved it as well and read it in just a couple of days.


The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera

I love to read books about books and/or reading. So when I read a description of this book, I knew I wanted to read it. Miss Prim, who loves literature, accepts a post of private librarian for a man who also loves books. Yet her employer seems, to Miss Prim, to be quite contrary. Miss Prim had no idea that taking this job would change her. The book is filled with interesting characters, references to books, and cups of hot tea. I found this to be a delightful read and would totally read it again. Although, I do wish there had been more to the ending. Or better yet…a sequel!


Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I definitely have to include this on my list of favorites. This was such a fun read for me, especially after having seen some of the movie productions of this novel many, many times. Awhile back, I had tried to read Emma and ended up setting it aside because I just couldn’t get into the book (even though I love several of the movie productions). This was NOT the case with Pride and Prejudice. It was fun, engaging, and I read it in a matter of days. As I read it, I kept finding myself picturing various characters from the movies saying the lines. After having read Pride and Prejudice, I now want to try another Jane Austen novel and thus have it as one of my reading goals for 2017.

What were your favorite reads for 2016?