Favorite Book Series for Your Upper-Elementary Readers!

My daughter is a girl after my own heart. She always has a book with her, and I’ve even had to keep her from running into things at the grocery store. What a cutie! Finding the right books for her, that she will not only enjoy but will keep pushing her in her reading can be hard. Knowing what kids will like or be able to read is just a hard thing in general. Today the graphic novel is king, and while they are fun, reading a traditional book is a skill that is so important. So, while your kids may love and beg you for those graphic novels make sure to get them some real books y’all! Here are some of our favorite books (I’ve included some silly, more graphic novel style books too because….balance!).

Baby Sitter’s Little Sister Series

Nancy Drew

A note for this! There is a graphic novel version that I have seen girls read. That’s a big nope for me! I don’t mind the graphic novels but they just shouldn’t replace the reading of real books. And even though these seem a little old fashioned for girls they are such great books and have been a hit for my daughter.

Bobbsey Twins

These probably fall in the same category as Nancy…kids look at the books and think “Oh those are old, they must be lame.” My best suggestion would be to read it with your child. Either get a second copy or actually read it together. It is such a fun experience and a great conversation starter.

Hollow Earth

We learned about Hollow Earth last year at AwesomeCon. It is written by one of my daughter’s favorite Doctor Who characters – Captain Jack Harkness – played by John Barrowman, and his sister. This is such a great book that encourages the imagination and challenges kids who read it. The characters in this book are 12, but both my 10-year-old daughter AND my 12-year-old son loved this book. I’m even considering reading it to my youngest. A book that can capture the attention of the different ages like that is a winner in my book! In this book twins, Matt and Emily, can bring art to life and enter worlds through paintings!

Ivy + Bean

Ivy + Bean is a super cute series about two girls who are so different but find a close bond! I love this series and these two zany girls! They go on adventures searching for ghosts in the school bathroom, digging up bones in the bathroom and helping each other out of one pickle after another.

Choose Your Own Adventure

There are so many “Would You Survive” or “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. My daughter started bringing some home from the school library. So if you’ve never seen any go to your local public library and ask, or have your child talk to their school librarian. I was super excited to go to our regular used book store and find that they had some of the original ORIGINAL Choose Your Own Adventure books! One example of a newer one my daughter got at her school’s library is called Survivor Diaries. I have three of the original series in the main picture. Those are a little tougher to find, but a little digging online or in a used book store and you might just hit the jackpot like I did.

Ramona Series

A classic series that I read as a kid and I’m happy my daughter has started up with these as well. Hopefully one day her daughter will as well. Some books remain timeless, and books by Beverly Cleary are exactly that.

Chi Book Series

This is one of those fun, silly books that aren’t a complicated chapter book BUT are super loved by my daughter and her friends. My youngest also loves these books as well. They are a graphic novel/comic book style and are super cute.

What Was… {Book Series}

If your kids were fans of the Who Was… series of books, and are now a little bit older, they might really like these. Currently my daughter is reading about the Underground Railroad. I really believe it is important that kids have the opportunity to read non-fiction books at a young age. Books about Anne Frank, sports heroes and other people from history, broken down into kid-sized abilities will lead to a love for those kinds of books as they get older. I know that it did for me and I hope it does for her. My favorite one as a kid was Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. I remember the author coming to my school in elementary school and I still have that signed copy.

I’d love to hear your favorite upper-elementary reader books! Share with me here on the blog or find me over on Facebook or Instagram and let me know what your kids love!

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Rhe’s Bookshelf ~ A Military Romance, a 2017 Summer Must-Read and a Presidential Challenge {book review}

Book Reviews by Rheanna, Rhe's Bookshelf

This summer has been such a good reading summer for me. I know how important reading is for my self-care and mental health, and I’ve really been trying to devote time to that. Bonus is that my kids are reading more WITH me, which is such an awesome thing. Creating independent readers has always been something I’ve wanted for my kids. If you are new to the blog and my bookshelf posts there is one thing you need to know. I’m one of those people that reads three or more books at a time. I know, its totally crazy!! Or perhaps its not so crazy and you’ve finally found someone as crazy as you. So, let me present to you my last multi-read group of books. A military inspirational romance from a repeat author for me. Please support Debby Giusti because not only is she a phenomenal writer, she has donated books to me for military spouses in the past and I just love that. I also try to read books (rather informally) with my good group of girlfriends here in the neighborhood. We had a tough time finding a book we could all request at the library, so I had the idea of searching last summer’s must read list. That is how we ended up with a rather interesting historical fiction book that I ended up truly loving. Lastly, my mom gave me the idea that inspired this latest read. I decided to read a book about each president. While I fancy myself a history buff, there is also something to be learned.

{click to purchase}

Colleen Brennan has one goal—take down her sister’s killer. But chasing after evidence leaves her in the path of a tornado and stranded in an Amish community. With the killer nearby, Colleen must depend on the kindness of Special Agent Frank Gallagher. Although the army officer is recuperating from a battlefield injury, he wants to help the beautiful woman he rescued from the tornado’s fury. He can tell she’s hiding something important. But getting her to reveal her secrets may be his most dangerous mission ever. {Debby Giusti Website}


This is my second Debby Giusti book in the “military investigations” series. This book combines Debby’s affinity for military and amish writing. Her books always keep me on my toes and have a great twist in the end. What I also love about the books is that faith plays a constant, but subtle role in the books. Being weaved in and out of the characters, slowly pulling at their hearts in a way that really speaks to me. She makes it feel so naturally a part of the characters lives, which I think is such a realistic way of doing it. I’ve read many inspirational novels and there is definitely a wrong way to do it, where it is just rammed down your throat in such a way that you forget about the story that you are reading. The reality of the emotions that the character of Frank was going through, as a soldier recovering from wounds sustained in battle, were very real. Debby always delivers when it comes to the reality of military aspects of her books. As a reader, who also happens to be a military spouse, it is difficult for me to read books that have blatant discrepancy or do not ring true. While I do read books for fun, I expect books with military aspects to be accurate. {PS: I am available for consults – i take free books as payment, LOL}

This is a book I would read again so it gets by coveted 5 out of 5 stars rating!!

{click to purchase]

Raised among wealth and privilege during America’s fabled Gilded Age, a niece of famous novelist Edith Wharton and a friend to literary great Henry James, Beatrix Farrand is expected to marry, and marry well. But as a young woman traveling through Europe with her mother and aunt, she already knows that gardens are her true passion.

How this highborn woman with unconventional views escapes the dictates of society to become the most celebrated female landscape designer in the country is the story of her unique determination to create beauty and serenity while remaining true to herself.

Beatrix’s journey begins at the age of twenty-three in the Borghese Gardens of Rome, where she meets beguiling Amerigo Massimo, an Italian gentleman of sensitivity and charm—a man unlike any she has known before. {Goodreads Synopsis}


It’s been awhile since I’ve read an historical novel. I’m fairly certain it was The Other Boleyn girl (which by the way is an amazing read). This book was on 2017’s summer must read list. I discovered it by perusing around on the internet looking for 2018 summer reads. It was then I realized that trying to find enough copies at the library for me and my friends to check out would be difficult for any of this summer’s must reads. That is how I found this amazing book. I’m a succor for a good cover and this one is lovely!!! From the losely swept up red hair to the beautiful gown that I can literally feel swaying as a I look at it. It caught my attention and drew me in. Beatrix Farrand is the focus of the story, however I would argue that our narrator is one of the characters that might have been intended to be secondary but ended up being the someone I wanted to read about just as much as our lead. Beatrix is a real person, and also happens to be on of the first female landscape architects {you go girl}. Its safe to say that I had never given that one thought, but I learned a lot about that line of work. What I truly loved about this book is that it really helped me picture the sweeping french landscapes, the bustling city life, Rome and the colosseum. And like any true Jane Austen fan, I love to get indigent about societies rules for love and men and women. A good romeo and juliet type love thrown in there makes for epic storytelling. Jeanne Mackin’s attention to detail and devotion to showing the trueness of the time and the characters showed in her writing. Seeing an author take on a real person with respect, while also creating a realistic story that is enjoyable takes talent. Its too easy to take on something like this and runaway with it.

Three and half out of five stars

{click to purchase}

In this thought-provoking look at George Washington as soldier and statesman, Richard Brookhiser traces the astonishing achievements of Washington’s career and illuminates how his character and his values shaped the beginnings of American politics.

Brookhiser recaptures the real George Washington in this against-the-grain biographical study that chronicles a remarkable quarter-century career in public life—a record of achievements that is virtually unmatched by any modern leader. Brookhiser recounts Washington’s heroic deeds as general and president, his temperament and training, and reflects upon his legacy.  {Goodreads Summary}


I hadn’t done any research on what to read or what is recommended. I just went to the library and started looking around. I snatched this one because it wasn’t overwhelming in size really.  This was such a great book and I learned a lot about our first president that I didn’t really know. What I love about the idea of reading a book about our Presidents (especially our early ones) is that they should be known for more than simply being the first one or first ones. So often they are relegated to that title as being the only reason we should remember. We get very little about them beyond that. When we moved to Virginia I really wanted to take all of that in, and this book was a great addition to that education. I can’t wait to move on to President Number 2!! Join me in this challenge and snag this book from Amazon or your local library. Its easy to read but full of information, the perfect balance for those that consider themselves history buffs or those that would like to dip their toe in the history deep end. 

Four out of five stars

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9 of My Favorite True Crime Books {Genre Lovers Should Read}

*this post contains affiliate links*

7b19a1ac0f1dc41fa6ae1fbe96f9ce742284a615170155e786 Maybe a couple weeks ago Buzzfeed had an article with eighteen true crime books listed. Of course being a self-appointed “True Crime Buff” I clicked. A lot of the books I agreed with, but there were some that were missing that are SO good!!!! So, if you happen to be a fan of the genre you should definitely check some of these books out.

1. The Bone Garden – This one makes me particularly excited because it took place in my home town. I’ve been to the house, my mom took a tour, and it was a part of my growing up. Dorthea Puente was a female serial killer, one of the rarest of types and completely fascinating to me. She killed people, took their welfare and buried them in their yard. FASCINATING or creepy depending on who you ask.

2. A Sniper in the Tower – This one is both heartbreaking and fascinating. The story of Charles Whitman is almost a curious case. He killed his wife, mother, and decided to go up into the tower at the University of Texas and pick people off. In a very interesting time of police work, where there were no radios like today, they were outgunned, and so much more.

3. Body Parts – Wayne Adam Ford killed four women in Humboldt County, and walked into the Sheriff’s office and confessed it. Caitlin Rother is a fantastic author and has written several other crime books. This may not be the most memorable of crime stories, but I just find it particularly fascinating. Ford was sentenced to death. 
4. Fatal Vision – probably my favorite crime book. So much so that my one of my besties gave me a first edition for my birthday and wrote me a note in it. Is that weird? For two people going to school for Crime related things its not so weird, trust me. This is one of those kind of unsolved, but not really unsolved cases. Jeffery McDonald was in the Army, when his entire family was horribly murdered in base housing. While there was enough evidence to convict, the question has always remained. Joe Guinness is the author of this and he spent a significant amount of time with Jeffery during the trial. Fascinating stuff. There’s also a really good tv movie.

5. Hush Little Babies – Another argued “unsolved” where you so desperately want to believe its untrue, and you are conflicted by reading it. It’s crazy to think about how many of these types of cases are around like this. This one in particular is creepy because it involves a mother killing her children. But the mystery involved, the time it took, the fact that her husband was also in the house. Its a really good book and an intriguing story. There have been several good shows on the story.
6. From Cradle to Grave – This book needs very little introduction other than what is on the book cover. I mean, she was caught almost red-handed smothering her child. Then you realize she had eight other children who died. And THEN you realize she was a nurse with suspicious deaths in her wake. Whoa!

7. The Night Stalker – This particular book is probably one of the most creepy and scary true crime books I’ve ever read, and I’ve read a lot. Whenever I talk about this book I tell the story of my mom who couldn’t even finish it, it was so creepy. Richard Ramirez is one freaky dude. I mean, the way he just looked over at the cameras during his trial, his smile, his almost rock star persona. Totally creepy. Also, as a little aside, the dude totally got married in prison. Someone married this guy! There is no question that he committed these crimes people. Nonetheless, its up there as one of my favorite true crime books.

8. Most Evil – So this is a very interesting book because Steve Hodel believes his father to be the perpetrator of many unsolved, or “uncertain” crimes, including the Zodiac murders and the Black Dahlia. It is extremely fascinating and I finished the book definitely seeing how what he was saying could definitely be true. As a side note, the two Zodiac books are really good to read before this one. 
9. Women Who Kill – Women Who Kill is a complication book, incorporating stories of female serial killers, and one-shot killers as well. In college female serial killers, and just female murderers, were very particular fascinating to me. At the time it wasn’t talked about much; and in fact I had a paper that was going to be submitted to a journal but was turned down because talking about women in such a way was deemed too controversial. You will find a ton of good stories like Lizzie Borden, Aileen Wuornos and even Agrippina. 
Are you a true-crime buff, or a just a fan of non-fiction, and have 
a favorite book in this genre? Tell me about it.

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10 Books for MilSpouses {during deployment or anytime}

Books have always been my escape in life. Its relaxing, comforting, educational and I love it. During hard times in my life as a military spouse I’ve turned to books, both military related and not military related. These are some of my favorite military related books to read while the hubby is gone, or just when I need a milspouse pick me up.

1.  Right Side Up -Right Side Up by the awesomely cool Judy Davis is such a great book, and I can not say it enough. Judy is a fellow blogger and downright inspirational lady. Judy’s goal in writing the books was to provide motivation and encouragement so that milspouses view the life of a military life as an opportunity, not a burden. Judy’s book is the perfect gift for yourself or a new milspouse.

3. The Power of a Praying Wife: Military Edition – This is simply the military edition of Stormie Omartian’s book, “The Power of a Praying Wife.” Stormie Omartian’s nephew is a service member and this book was made available to chaplains across the services and can usually be found through them. It is a wonderful encouragement for wives, especially for those like myself who love direction and advice for prayers when it comes to my marriage and my husband. The Power of a Praying Husband is also available.

4. Faith Deployed…Again – This is the second in this series (Faith Deployed). These books are filled with wonderful stories of faith and encouragement from military spouses across the branches. I just happened to be a little partial to this one because one of my amazing friends is one of the authors. What is so wonderful about a book like this is you can pick it up and read it for hours, or choose one or two stories for a quick encouragement.

5. Psalm 51: Military Edition – Peggy Joyce Ruth has a whole series of Psalm 51 books, including Motherhood and Teen Editions. Along with the specific text of Psalm 51 there are encouraging words from Military personnel. While not specifically for the military spouse it is a great read and makes a great bible study, especially during a deployment.

6. Olive Drab Pom Poms – Kori Yates is the author of this motivational milspouse books from a Christian perspective. Military spouses spend a good chunk of our lives being cheerleaders for our families, sometimes with our Olive Drab {or Air Force Blue for me} pom poms. Finding our place in this crazy military life can be difficulty at times, and I know for me personally, my faith has played a huge role in getting me through some of the most difficult times.

7. Confessions of a Military Spouse – from the awesomely cool Mollie Gross comes this real, and almost certainly hilarious, view of milspouse life. How do we deal with life, all the twist and turns and ridiculousness of this life? The true confessions in this book will attempt to answer those questions and will probably have you rolling on the floor in no time.

8. The New Testament for Military Spouses – Along the same lines as the Psalm 51 book, but specifically for military spouses. It includes devotionals meant just for us, written by military spouses that have been there.

9. American Wife – There isn’t much introduction needed for this book by Taya Kyle, wife of Chris Kyle. But its included in this life for a very good reason. It is a story we are all familiar with, but the book is about so much more. Its about a life we, as military spouses, can all relate to. It touches on our worst fears and our best moments. I still can’t get over how emotional it was to meet her and to hear her speak. This book is a really intense extension of that. You can read about my experience here.

10. The Five Love Language: Military Edition – Another special edition of book, written just for military families. The stories is this book are real and, at times, intense. I was curious how well this book would be written, but the authors did their homework. The books takes the principals and advice for the original and adds a military twist. I’m currently working through this book more carefully then my original review read through and I can’t wait to update ya’ll on how it goes.

This is a great start for all you amazing military spouses out there! Deployment and separations suck! Even the day to day of military life has its struggles. But I know for me I’ve always found encouragement in the stories of others who have walked before me, or who are walking right along with me. It is that comraderie, either in person or in the pages of book that is true diamond in the rough of military life. Stay tuned for more lists like this.

do you have an awesome military book that provided some encouragement to you? Tell me about it!
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Finding Your Inner Writier with Now Novel *review*

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial. Writing a book has been something that has been on my “list” for several years.  Ideas have come and gone, pages have been written, tossed, and written again; but nothing has ever stuck.  Whether it be the kids, another kid, crazy Mr. Air Force work scheduling issue or just life in general, it just hasn’t happened.  Then I came across Now Novel.  It is perfect for someone who wants a little something else in their writing experience. 

Some people have been known to go old school, write on a type-writer, some can hole themselves away in their office, or bedroom, and type out their thoughts on their computer.  Now Novel does it a little differently.  It’s like a full-fledged support group, on top of being a place to write.  It keeps track of your word-count and overall progress right there on the side panel.  There’s a blog, forum and even a place to get some of your worked critiqued, and no one would have to know who the heck you were.  That is pretty cool.  That is one of the parts I absolutely dread about writing.  Submitting that work to someone to edit it.  I know that I’ll have to do it eventually, and submitting it to someone I know has both good and bad points.  For one, its kind of nerve wracking to basically soul your perverbial soul to someone (okay, maybe not that dramatic).  I’d always be wondering what they thought of me, if they thought I was crazy, whether it was awful…would they really tell me the full truth?  So much stress right?  For those you ( like me!) who enjoy watching things being explained, here’ s short video about the Now Novel process.

Some other cool things about Now Novel is that it really helps almost anyone to write a book.  Some people, like myself, don’t have extensive training or a college education that has to do with writing.  However, what many people do have is a story to tell.  You want to be able to put all your words on paper in a way that reads well to a large audience.  Not everyone will like it obviously, different strokes for different folks, but you want to be able to put your words down in the right way.  A way that will get the most out of it.  With this very cool website they can help you develop your book with a blueprint and expert guides.  Help you get that jumble of thoughts out and looking organized. 

All that being said, Now Novel doesn’t come cheap.  You did get a portion for free, you can create your mood, find your central idea and test that it is the way you want to go.  After that you have to pay for the program.  With that you get access to everything, all the time, as well as a mentor to help you through the process.  There are different levels of programs you can purchase, based off what you believe your needs will be.  For the DIY Writer ( knows what they want and doesn’t need a lot of support) you are looking at $99 for six months, no editing and no mentor.  The programs go progressively up to $599.00 for six months which gets you your mentor, phonecalls with them and editing of up to $3,000 words a month.  So there’s something for everyone.  The FAQ section has a lot of information in it and answered many of my questions about the program.

All in all its a super neat and very unique program.  I could see purchasing something like this if I was super committed to writing and knew that I could finish it in six months; or maybe if I didn’t have three small children running around and was litterally watching my time and money disappear before my eyes.  But you get what I’m saying.

If you’re serious about book writing, and have the cash to do this program I think it would be an awesome opportunity.

Any of my readers writing or considering writing a book?! I’d love to hear about it.  What genre?
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