Mama Bear Books: Graphic Novels and Mysteries

Hello again, Mama Bears!

I spend most of my time reading literary fiction and nonfiction, but sometimes it’s great to take a break from that and sink your teeth into some good genre reads. Summer feels like the perfect time for a departure from the standard reads. Though I certainly don’t limit myself to these books just in the summer, I have a couple of my favorite mystery series to share with you. And I’m even more excited to share some graphic novel suggestions with you! They are a relatively new discovery for me and I am thoroughly enjoying exploring this genre. I am hoping this post will inspire you to try something that maybe you haven’t tried before. Happy reading!

Graphic Novels

March by John Lewis: This three-book series allows readers to see the Civil Rights movement through the eyes of Congressman John Lewis.

Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman: The life of Polish Jews during WWII, both before and after their internment. (Two-book series)

The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi: If you don’t know anything about the revolution in Iran in the 80s and early 90s, this is a lesson to be learned.

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel: A memoir where Bechdel wrestles with her father’s death and secret sexuality while also coming to grips with her own sexuality.

My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris: This is a dark and gritty tale about a girl who imagines herself like a monster found in horror movies. She tasks herself with figuring out what really happened in the suspicious death of her neighbor, a WWII survivor. Themes include sexuality, suicide, cancer, death and poverty among other things. Not for the faint of heart, but if you’re up for it, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. P.S. Ferris began work on this graphic novel as she recovered from paralysis caused by West Nile.

Mysteries

The Cormoran Strike Series by Robert Galbraith: Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling. The series starts with The Cuckoo’s Calling. I may be biased because I love J.K., but I thoroughly enjoy the character of Cormoran Strike and his assistant, Robin.

The Flavia de Luce Series by Alan Bradley: The first book in the series is The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. Flavia is a teen girl full of spunk and a passion for chemistry who has a knack for solving mysteries. She is an absolute delight.

Lindsey Sinnwell is a married mother of four living in the suburbs in Iowa and will be contributing a monthly literary reflection on the Mama Bear Blog. After spending 12 years as a stay-at-home mom, she is returning to her alma mater to pursue her teaching certification in English. She is much cooler than she sounds and is always looking for new book-loving friends. You can find her on Instagram at @mrssinnwellreads.

Mama Bear Books: 8 Feminist Perspectives to Devour Now

Throughout my life, I would have always described myself as a feminist, but I didn’t read feminist works or take a women’s lit class in college. I didn’t think of it much beyond, “Yes, I believe women deserve equal opportunities to men. Being a woman does not make me lesser.”

It wasn’t until these last few years that I’ve really started to consider it more. It must have something to do with how freeing our 30s are. Then, Emma Watson (can I get a shout out for Hermione?!?) created a book club on Goodreads at the beginning of 2016 with the intention of reading and sharing feminist works. And so, my real feminist education began.

I need this education in women’s voices, not just for myself, but for my daughters AND my sons, and for my future students. With each book I read, I find myself considering new things, feeling emboldened and sometimes outraged, and also incredibly proud to be able to call myself a woman alongside these women. And I wear the label feminist with a boldness I never have before. My advice is to read We Should All Be Feminists first, and then keep going! There is so much more out there; these are just the books that resonated with me the most in my first year of feminist reading. Happy reading!

8 Feminist Perspectives to Devour Now

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Pick up copies of this beautiful essay and pass it out like a feminist super hero.

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay: Perspectives on feminism, race and pop culture. Very thought provoking.

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed: A collection of letters and advice issued in the Dear Sugar column. No holds barred and delightful.

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn: Do you want to know what life is like for women outside of the U.S.? Read this book.

Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape by Peggy Orenstein: If you have CHILDREN between the ages of 0 and 22ish, read this book!!

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon: Love the approach this book took to her life story. She is a serious badass and my hero!

Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou: A beautiful memoir about how her mother’s absence and presence so greatly affected her.

Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun & Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes: She beautifully gives us all permission to be ourselves!

Lindsey Sinnwell is a married mother of four living in the suburbs in Iowa and will be contributing a monthly literary reflection on the Mama Bear Blog. After spending 12 years as a stay-at-home mom, she is returning to her alma mater to pursue her teaching certification in English. She is much cooler than she sounds and is always looking for new book-loving friends. You can find her on Instagram at @mrssinnwellreads.

Books for February

Hi, Readers!

I’m so happy to be back on the Mama Bear Blog, this time with book suggestions centering on race, race relations, and race in America. February is Black History Month, so we thought it would be appropriate to share with you some of the books I have recently read surrounding the topic. The current political climate and the Black Lives Matter movement have opened my eyes to issues of race in a way they they hadn’t been previously. Why? Because they didn’t have to be, thanks to my white privilege and the fact that I live in a mostly white town. However, I don’t want to be willfully ignorant to the issue any more.

Last year, I made a conscious effort to read both fiction and nonfiction focused on race. This post include a list and short description of some of my favorite. By no means is this a comprehensive list and in no way do I want to paint myself as an expert. I am just a white lady trying to get woke and this is where I’ve started. If you’re in the same situation, maybe one of these books will spark your interest and lead you to an understanding of the Black Lives Matter movement or what people mean when they talk about white privilege.

Happy reading!

NONFICTION

You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain, by Phoebe Robinson: Funny and insightful, full of pop culture references, also a strong feminist viewpoint.

Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah: About his upbringing in South Africa and fully relevant to our current political situation.

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, by Bryan Stevenson: An absolute must read about our justice system. I said MUST read.

Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates: If you’re ready to get a hard lesson in what it’s like to be black in America, read this.

How to Be Black, by Baratunde Thurston: He uses a humorous voice to describe what it’s like to always be the “representative of blackness.”

FICTION

The Mothers, by Brit Bennett: The secret that all the characters in this book revolve around is an abortion, so it may not be for everyone, but I was mesmerized by this book.

Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Mesmerizing observations on race in America from the viewpoint of non-American Blacks.

The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead: This book takes a good, hard look at our history as it re-imagines the underground railroad as an actual railroad.

All American Boys, by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely: Not perfect, but a great place for white tweens to start thinking about the subject matter.


Lindsey Sinnwell is a married mother of four living in the suburbs in Iowa and will be contributing a monthly literary reflection on the Mama Bear Blog. After spending 12 years as a stay-at-home mom, she is returning to her alma mater to pursue her teaching certification in English. She is much cooler than she sounds and is always looking for new book-loving friends. You can find her on Instagram at @mrssinnwellreads.

What to Read in 2017

Hello, Mama Bears!

My name is Lindsey Sinnwell and you don’t know me, but Tesi does. We went to high school together and I would describe us as friendly, but not friends back then. I don’t think we thought we had much in common. But now, through one of the best aspects of Facebook, we’ve discovered we have more in common than we imagined. One of the things we’ve bonded over is books. (Also, having lots of kids, Harry Potter, movies, politics and podcasts!)

I am an avid reader and I am overjoyed when I find other readers in life. I have been writing a small, mostly unread blog since 2009 chronicling every book I’ve read. The reviews are nothing spectacular, mostly just my gut reactions to the books. (I liked it. I didn’t like it. This was good. It was missing this for me.) I keep the blog mostly for myself, so when Tesi and Leslie asked me to write a book recommendation post for the Mama Bear blog, I thought, “I don’t know if I can do that.” But, then I thought about all the dares I have listened to throughout the year on Mama Bear Dares and I told myself, “Do it!” It scares me, but here I am doing it.

I read 135 books in 2016—some old, some new. (I did say avid when I described myself as a reader. Should I have maybe used the word obsessive?) I have more free time than the average Mama Bear and I can ignore a sink full of dishes and a pile of laundry for a good book any day!

I am headed back to school this month and I am already mourning the reading time I will be giving up. But, you know what? It’s all in the name of turning my reading passion into a professional passion! Over the next several months, I will be recommending books to Mama Bear readers by category. My first recommendations will be based on my 2016 reading alone, but future months may include recommendations from my 2017 reading as well. I hope you find my recommendations helpful. Let’s ease into 2017 with some general fiction, juvenile fiction, and young adult fiction. Next month, we’ll tackle recommendations for books about race.

Happy Reading!

General Fiction

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving: Friendship, faith struggles, and lots of political commentary. I had no idea how relevant Ronald Reagan’s presidency would feel today.

The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan: A survivalist, her trans daughter and their new neighbor preparing for a coming ice age could be very dark, but was beautiful, heart-wrenching and funny with a healthy dose of swearing.

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf: A story of a new love at a point in life when both characters thought they were well past the possibility.

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss: The translation of a book called The History of Love brings three story lines together beautifully in the end.

Be Frank with Me by Julie Claiborne Johnson: Frank is a sweet and shining star in this book. He is clearly on the autism spectrum and this book definitely puts a happy face on the issue, which is probably a shortcoming, but I loved him so much that I couldn’t help but love this book anyway.

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson: Old people finding love through a shared love of literature. Sign me up!

Young Adult

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness: A beautiful story of a boy struggling with his mother’s illness and his pending grief.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: A sweet and innocent college romance for the inexperienced and scared in all of us.

Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden: Written in 1982, but still relevant today for any teen struggling with their sexuality.

Juvenile Fiction

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan: Set during WWII, a harmonica travels from a German boy to an orphan boy in Pennsylvania to a Mexican-American girl in California during the Japanese internment. Beautiful.

Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard by Jonathan Auxier: Sophie is living during a “war on culture” and she must rely on a cast of magical characters to rescue four books in order to save all the rest of the world’s stories. This is the second in a series, but can probably stand on it’s own and even better than the first book.


Lindsey Sinnwell is a married mother of four living in the suburbs in Iowa and will be contributing a monthly literary reflection on the Mama Bear Blog. After spending 12 years as a stay-at-home mom, she is returning to her alma mater to pursue her teaching certification in English. She is much cooler than she sounds and is always looking for new book-loving friends. You can find her on Instagram at @mrssinnwellreads.