Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Genius Summer ~ a book review


book reviews, YA fiction, Pamela Woods-Jackson


Millie Olson is smart, driven, and insecure. Being a soon to graduate 16 year old high school senior is only fueling Millie’s insecurities. It seems everyone she meets wants to know which of the many colleges she has been accepted to is her choice for this fall. Going to class, studying, and taking tests are the things Millie excels at. Choosing a college, dating, and being away from her family are the unknowns that she fears.

Genius Summer is a work of YA fiction where author Pamela Woods-Jackson takes the reader along on Millie’s journey of self-discovery. This intriguing story of Millie’s summer adventures would be best for ages 14-18. The writing quality is good and I was pleasantly surprised that this story does NOT have the profanity, violence, and sex so often found in fiction marketed to this age group.

Millie, the oldest of three, must balance the demands of her schoolwork, helping with her younger siblings, and her volunteer position at a local history museum. Their parents are both professionals, a writer and a lawyer. Millie was given a car for her 16th birthday with the understanding that she would use it to get herself and her siblings to school, sporting events, and to run errands for her mom, as their part-time housekeeper does not drive.

Throughout the book Millie struggles to fit in with her classmates, not just because of her younger age, but also because she has discovered a universal truth. Being a really smart girl often makes you the opposite of popular. I have seen this truth multiple times in my own life. I’ve worked with our own daughters to encourage them to not hide the brains God has gifted them just because it might make someone uncomfortable. This is one of the lessons Millie is learning during her Genius Summer.

Another lesson Millie learns is that people change. Shortly after graduation Millie and her siblings leave Indianapolis and travel to Oklahoma to spend a few weeks with their grandmother. While there, Millie has to change her perception of her grandmother’s neighbor Zach MacMillan from what she remembers about him from past visits to who he is today. Millie learns the truth that while she was growing up, other people were as well. 

In a trunk in her grandmother’s attic, Millie finds a journal written by a young girl her own age from the 1860’s. The young girls’ story sets Millie on a quest, with some help from Zach, to learn more about her life. 

That’s all I’m going to tell you about the plot because the rest would be spoilers! I will recommend this book as a great summer read. The characters are thoughtfully written and you will walk away believing they truly exist. 

During her Genius Summer, Millie learns a lot about friendship and choosing her own path for the future. These are great lessons for any teen, and the message is well wrapped in this story.


Genius Summer is available on Amazon, either in print or Kindle format.



I received a copy of Genius Summer in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine. No other compensation was received. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Where have you been?



thoughts from mom to mom


I did not mean for more than a week to pass between posts here on the blog...but it happened. 

I've been living life. What have you been up to? 

A few years ago someone asked me what I planned to do when the girls had both graduated and I was finished homeschooling? I jokingly answered "nothing for at least six months." My husband said "maybe six days." 

Finishing one season of your life and moving into the next is sometimes simple, and other times quite complex. I would have to say that this transition period has been rather simple, and I am so very thankful for that! 

A lot of small changes have added up to make some big differences. I've switched day jobs, and that has been so refreshing! The family is starting to realize that we won't all always be home for dinner, and that is okay. Also, it is a good thing that spring is turning into summer soon because we've been having dinner around 7 p.m. lately, so hooray for later sunsets!

I've also taken some time for reflection. That has not happened much along the way for the past few years. With this reflection has come an incurable urge to purge things from our home. That means last week Arlene and I spent all of our days off getting things out of the house. To me, that was much more important than writing a post just to have written one. I hope you'll understand. :)

What happens next? Some home improvement projects, more purging, and a lot of fun adventures! Spring is my favorite time of year, even if the rain occasionally makes you change your plans. 

In June I am blocking out additional time for writing my book. There may not be as many posts here as there were in the past, or there may be just as many because I need a diversion - we will just have to wait and see. 

In the meantime, I wanted to share with you a post that a friend sent me. This mom writer nailed how so many of us feel at this time of the year - spread thin and worn out. To all you other middle season mama's out there - hold on - summer is right around the corner! Find it here

One day soon, probably sooner than you think, those teens and tweens will be grown up. They'll have their own cars, their own jobs, and their own true friends. They will also start buying their own movie tickets and their own groceries. Cherish the long days that you have now with them!

Big Mama hugs to you all!