June is for reading :)

I’ve been reading, 190 books so far this year. For these first 11 days in June I watched one movie based on a book I read in February (The Sun Is Also A Star) and read 17 books, 8 of them picture books by or about the celebrated illustrator Jerry Pinkney. I also read 4 fiction/thrillers, 1 play, 1 chapbook about aliens, 1 non-fiction, 1 YA fiction, and 1 kids fiction. I’ve really needed the fiction escape it seems!

The first 5 on this list (I’m counting all of the Pinkney books as a whole) I would heartily recommend.

The Woman in the Window
The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Anna is agoraphobic, which began after a trauma the year before. She’s separated her family, has one therapist/frend, and access lots of alcohol and medication. She also has a camera and likes to keep an eye on her neighborhood. When new neighbors arrive at her doorstep, Anna’s carefully crafted (sad) life begins to unravel.

A fast-paced thriller perfect for summer. I really liked it. She’s an old movie buff, which I loved, and I need to go back and make a list of all the movies she mentioned so I can watch them (without a bottle of wine and pills).

The Last Flight
Last Flight by Julie Clark

Two women on opposite coasts are both in dangerous situations. They switch identities and flights and hope to evade the men sure to come looking for them. But one of the flights crashes.

Two compelling women with two compelling stories. I liked the back and forth and the switch between then and now. I was even surprised at the end (but probably shouldn’t have been).

I had a fun time with this one.

The Boy at the Top of the Mountain
The Boy at the Top of the Mountain by John Boyne

I picked up John Boyne’s young adult historical and breezed right through it. He has the rare talent of writing unlikeable characters and still putting together a compelling story. A Ladder of Years is my favorite, but others will remember The Boy in the Striped Pajamas best.

In this short (260 pages) book, 7 year old Pierrot loses both parents, his best friend, and his home city of Paris as he sent to an orphanage. His aunt finds him and brings him to Berghof, where she is head housekeeper. Of course, this is also Hitler’s home in the Bavarian Alps. Hitler takes a special interest in the boy and Pierrot’s fate is sealed.

Can he recover from the things he did while so young? A good book about how any child’s future is shaped by their circumstances as well as their spirit. A tragic story but not one without hope.

I will read anything he writes.

The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes
The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain

I loved this one! A teen who had no support, a man who needed her for a kidnapping scheme, death, stolen babies, changed identities and a lifetime of guilt. What’s not to love? And I really love the cover ❤️

Jerry Pinkney by Lisa M B Simons, The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney, A Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech That Inspired a Nation by Barry Wittenstein, The Three Bill Goats Gruff by Jerry Pinkney, The Talking Eggs: A Folktale from the American South by Robert D San Souci, John Henry by Julius Lester, Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman by Alan Schroeder, The Further Adventures of Spider: West African Folktales by Joyce Cooper Arkhurst

Philadelphia born artist Pinkney has won numerous awards for his illustrations of children’s books, novels, magazines, and even a series of postage stamps starting in 1977. He’s still sharing his passion with the world at 81.

The Talking Eggs was my favorite. A sister is abused by her mother and sister, but is rewarded with her pure heart. It was a little more detailed than the other retellings of this Creole folktale and I loved it.

My other favorite was the classic John Henry, also different than other versions I’ve read, but I’m always up for a story about the legendary man. The song I learned as a kid still goes through my mind every time. Anyone else?

They’re all good. A Place To Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech That Inspired a Nation is his most recent work (2019) and the first time he used collage. And The Lion and the Mouse (2009) is a wordless book that tells one of Aesop’s fables. And I always love reading the African tales about that wily Spider 🕷

I Survived the Joplin Tornado, 2011 (I Survived, #12)
I Survived: The Joplin Tornado, 2011 by Lauren Tarshis

I Survived The Joplin Tornado, 2011 was our before bed book for the week. I thought it was scarier than the last one we read about the Chicago Fire. At the end of a few of the chapters I wasn’t sure he’d make it – then I reminded myself the book I series is called I Survived 😆

The writing is simple and the books have a few pictures for interest and that makes them something Gage enjoys. So, for that I am grateful. Finding books that he is interested in reading continues to be a bit of a struggle and this series is a safe bet.

Tornadoes scare me. Have you ever experienced one firsthand?

This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance!
This is Your Life, Harriet Chance by Jonathan Evison

I both listened a read and much preferred the audio. I liked that it was different, but I can’t say I loved the book.

Harriet, 79, is a recent widow with a shaky relationship with her kids. Her marriage was meh and she’s stuck in a rut. Enter the Alaskan cruise her late husband had won and his visits from beyond the grave and you have the start of an interesting story. I just didn’t care for the this-is-your-life way the story moved from one time to the next.

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Strange Land by The Poet’s Haven

Strange Land from Poet’s Haven Digest, 2017 is a chapbook given to me by a friend at the library who just happen to write the very first poem, #greenlivesmatter. There were poems and stories all with a different take on our alien friends and their feelings on us Earthlings. Made more interesting by the government’s recent acknowledgment of UFOs 👽 It was a fun, fast read perfect for the unofficial start of summer.

A Streetcar Named Desire
A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

I was hoping that this would provide insight into the classic movie, which I don’t like at all. Unfortunately, I ended up disliking the characters even more 😂

Blanche comes to live with her sister Stella and Stella’s husband Stanley. The three of them bump into and around each other in a small apartment until damage is done. Unlikeable characters in a sad tragedy of a story. But, hey, it’s a classic for a reason, so what do I know?

What’s been your favorite June read so far? Anything I need add to my reading list? Extra points if it’s on the shorter side 🙂

This Week (a month later)

It’s been a month since my last update, but it’s been a busy month.

Highlights of the week

We finished homeschooling on May 28th and I don’t know who was more excited, Gage or his teacher 😉 We are going to do it one more year, and that means that we started 5th grade this week. No rest for the weary! We’re only doing 2.5 hours a day, so it’s really the best of both worlds. In July we’ll do 1 hour a day, and back to 2.5 in August, before the full day (5 hours). This schedule will allow more full weeks off during the year (summer included) while still giving us way more school hours than required (900).

We had friends over for Memorial Day. We made it an outdoor get together and it was much needed after the last year. They have a pool so Gage is especially looking forward to more time together. They look so serious here playing chess but they spent most of the day playing badminton, and I took no pictures of that. I was too busy chatting with friends and it was glorious 🙂
Yesterday we put carts outside the library for the first time in an attempt to have a small book sale for the kids coming to sign up for the library’s summer reading program. This picture was set up, there were more carts later. I’m hoping to do this more often since some parents still prefer outside to inside, especially since the mask mandate was dropped this week.

Currently reading

May Reads My top 5 post is here.

On the tv

We are between series right now, so our hour of tv at night is spent watching season 1 of the Great British Bake-off, which we’ve never seen.

Movies

I’m going to do a book/movie comparison post this week.

Plans for the weekend

Nothing fun is left, lol. I’ve got a long to do list today and need to get through it so I can have an organized week.

I’m linking up with the Sunday Salon.

May Favorites and June Intentions

May brought us snow, rain, and 90 degree days. Welcome to Cleveland. We finished up our 4th grade homeschool year on Friday, but are starting half days today for the month of June. Mainly fun stuff and short worksheets, so I can assess what we need to work on next year.

May also gave me 32 books to add to my book a day totals, giving me 173 for the year. I added two bookish movies this month bringing that yearly total to 5.

My top category was kids non-fiction with 7, followed by 6 adult fiction, 6 non-fiction picture books. 4 thrillers, and 3 historical romances. Other categories included kids fiction, memoir, poetry, and fiction picture books.

My Top 5 in May

Our Souls at Night
Our Souls At Night was a lovely surprise. Seventy somethings looking for an answer to loneliness find more than they’d hoped for. 179 pages. Highly recommend.
Find Her (Detective D.D. Warren, #8)
Find Her is the 8th in a series but the first I read. Flora had been kidnapped for over a year before being found and now she must come to terms with the bad things that happened in the best way she can. More character depth than I anticipated for as fast as it read.
Seduce Me at Sunrise (The Hathaways, #2)
Seduce Me At Sunrise is a historical romance set in England with Romani men as heroes. Kleypas is becoming my favorite romance author.
Dawn
Dawn is a follow-up to Wiesel’s autobiographical book Night, but this one is fiction. Elisha, a Holocaust survivor is a Israeli freedom fighter (calling themselves the Movement) in British-controlled Palestine. He has been tasked with executing a British hostage at Dawn. It’s a short, introspective book (100 pages) about war, becoming a murderer, and how, we as a society, got to this point.
The Undocumented Americans
The Undocumented Americans is more than a memoir of her undocumented life, more than a series of interwoven stories of people living in fear, more than what gets printed by news sources. Its’s authentic. It’s raw. It’s impactful. It’s her truth and you don’t have to like it. 
My flag, of sorts, represents my short stack of books I’ll be looking at to choose my books this month. Last month I only read 17 of 35 from my May stack, but it’s nice to at least pare down some options from the beginning.

What was your favorite read in May?

Finishing up May

As the homeschool year was winding down, I found it harder to focus on reading, so Jason and I watched two bookish movies this week. We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Woman in the Window. I wrote a post comparing the book and movie, We Have Always Lived in the Castle. So, two movies and 9 books to finish up the month.

2 thrillers, 2 fiction, 2 kids non-fiction, 1 non-fiction picture book, 1 kids fiction, and 1 cult classic.

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
Our Souls At Night by Kent Haruf

What a lovely book! I flew through this story about living boldly and making your own second chances. A quiet, spare book with a big heart.

Addie and Louis, both in their 70s and widowed were lonely. One day Addie walks around the block, knocks on his door, and asks Louis if he would like to spend nights in her bed. No funny business, just talk and sleep. He showed up at her house with his pajamas and a toothbrush in a brown paper bag after dark, they drank one glass of wine and a friendship began.

It’s not a love story, it’s a life story. It didn’t end as I expected or even hoped but I loved this book!

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
We Have Always Lived at the Castle by Shirley Jackson

 I loved the narration by Bernadette Dunne. She captured Merricat perfectly.

There’s a village and an estate that rules them all, at least in the mind of Merricat who lives the big house with her older sister Constance and ailing Uncle Julian. The rest of the family had been poisoned six years before and Constance had been acquitted of their murders, but now she never left the estate.

It was ominous and creepy, two things that go well together. I felt a little let down by the ending, but after some reflection and reading a few reviews, I saw things that I had missed initially. It made the story richer, but only after the fact 😁 It would be a fun group read with friends, and at 146 pages it would appeal to non-readers as well.

2034 by Elliot Ackerman
2034 by Eliot Ackerman and Admiral James Stavridis

In 2034 the US has a woman president who isn’t affiliated with a political party. So, right off the bat, things are good, but we barely hear from her. This global conflict is told by military and political personnel from the US, China, Iran, and India.

I really liked getting a taste from the different countries and the four main characters were interesting. Are nuclear weapons in the next world war inevitable? It’s a sobering look at what lies ahead. Written by an ex-Marine and Admiral.

This was a fast, exciting read.

Who Was George Washington Carver? by Jim Gigliotti
Who Was George Washington Carver by Jim Gigliotti

George led an inspiring life. Born into slavery, being left for dead as a baby, taken in and raised by the Carver’s, George left at 13 years old to walk to a town that would teach blacks in school. He lived this way, getting town to town looking for more educational opportunities for much of his young life. He became the first black to graduate from Simpson College and the first college graduate and faculty member at Iowa State.

It was his years at Tuskegee Institute that made him famous and led to awards and accolades. He cared about the earth, the farmer, the food we eat, and doing his best to leave a positive mark on the world. He most certainly did that.

Who Was Milton Bradley? by Kirsten Anderson
Who Was Milton Bradley by Kirsten Anderson

Milton Bradley loved games, as a way to be social (he had dinner parties almost every night), to fill the time (he made special game sets for soldiers during the Civil War), and to teach (he became very involved in the kindergarten movement and toys for teachers).

He was always creating. He also took a nap everyday and shut down the machines in the company so he could do so in quiet 😂. He loves a good nap even more than I do and I’m a huge nap proponent. He worked hard, he played hard, and he stuck up for the things that mattered to him. A great read and one that reinforced our discussion from the movie Soul.

Pie Girl by Ellen Potter
Piper Green and the Fairy Tree: Pie Girl by Ellen Potter

 This is the fifth in the Piper Green series, Pie Girl. I didn’t know this was part of a series when I requested it from the library, but we enjoyed the 126 page book anyway. Piper lives on an island of the coast of Maine and the ship that comes with the doctor once a year is set to arrive. The town hosts a potluck every year and this is the year she gets the coveted Pie Girl title. She also has a secret fairy tree and the latest gift from the fairies is an eye patch, so she becomes Pirate Pie Girl. Cute story with lovely illustrations for early elementary kids.

Earmuffs for Everyone! by Meghan Mccarthy
Earmuffs for Everyone; How Chester Greenwood Became Known as the Inventor of Earmuffs by Meghan McCarthy

Earmuff For Everyone was how Chester Greenwood became known as the inventor of the earmuff, a parade being held in his hometown every year. Only he didn’t invent them, but did improve upon the design. This is such a great lesson for kids to learn about researching and seeking out the truth. Loved this one.

The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa
The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa

 I listened and read the book. I really liked the narration, but wish they’d had someone else read the story within a story to.make it less confusing. I’m so much looking forward to what everyone has to say about it! This was originally published in Japan in 1994, but only translated to English in 2019.

Things are slowly disappearing from the island. Roses, hats, birds are all being taken away from the inhabitants and the militant Memory Police are ensuring compliance and sniffing out those few who remember everything. Our narrator decides to hide her editor in her home before the Memory Police take him away and kill him, like they did her mother.

Is it dystopian? Sci-fi? A cautionary tale? Surrealist? I found it all of these things. I liked the idea of it and I liked the writing and that was enough for most of the book, but in the end it sort of fell apart for me.

Personal by Lee Child
Personal by Lee Child

Personal, the 19th in the Jack Reacher series, takes us abroad in search of a skilled marksman that Reacher put away many years ago, it who is now taking shots at world leaders.

The book was good, not likely one I’ll remember, but I always enjoy spending time with Reacher.

May’s Movies and Money for Charity

A decent movie month. What about you? Anything I need to see?

You know the drill, add your 5 words (or less!) to mine in a comment and earn $1 for charity. Once we get to $100 the person with the most reviews will choose the charity. Click here to see the past winners, the charities they chose and the other reviews you can add to. Anyone is welcome to join in at any time. Click here to see past movie posts.

We’re at $76 right now.  Your charity could be next 

Soul Poster.jpeg
Soul, 2020 (Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Graham Norton, Rachel House, Alice Braga, Richard Ayoade, Phylicia, Rashad, Donnell Rawlins, Questlove, Angela Bassett) Grade B+

Each day is a gift.


MitchellsMachinesPoster.jpg
The Mitchell’s vs. the Machines, 2021 (Abbi Jacobson. Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Eric Andre , Olivia Coleman, Fred Armisen, Beck Bennett, John Legend, Chrissy Tiegen, Blake Griffin, Conan O’Brien) Grade B

Weird saves the world.


JumanjiTheNextLevelTeaserPoster.jpg
Jumanji: The Next Level, 2019 (Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Karen Gillan, Nick Jones, Awkwafina, Danny Glover, Danny DeVito) Grade B

Same game, additional characters.


The Woman in the Window.jpg
The Woman in the Window, 2021 (Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Anthony Mackie, Fred Hechinger, Wyatt Hawn Russell, Brian Tyree Henry, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Julianne Moore) Grade B

Just Crazy or Crazy but right?


Thunder Force 2021 movie poster.jpg
Thunder Force, 2021 (Melissa McCarthy, Olivia Spencer, Jason Bateman, Bobby Cannavale, Pom Klementieff, Melissa Leo, Taylor Mosby, Marcella Lowery) Grade B-

Super smart woman makes superheroes.


We Have Always Lived in the Castle.jpg
We Have Always Lived in the Castle, 2018 (Taissa Farminga, Alexandra Daddario, Crispin Glover, Sebastian Stan) Grade C

Kept in the castle by fear.


An obese man in a tweed suit and glasses, reflected in the mirror is a skinny man wearing a skintight leotard
The Nutty Professor, 1996 (Eddie Murphy, Jada Pinkett Smith, Dave Chappelle, James Coburn) Grade C

Testosterone is a real turn-off.


Things Heard and Seen poster.jpeg
Things Seen & Heard, 2021 (Amanda Seyfried, James Norton Alex Neustaedter, Kristin Griffith, Natalia Dyer, F Murray Abraham) Grade C

Spooky and psychotic marriage.

Book vs. Movie – We Have Always Lived in the Castle

We Have Always Lived in the Castle
1964

VERSUS

We Have Always Lived in the Castle (film) - Wikipedia
2018

I listened to audiobook of the cult classic by Shirley Jackson last week and watched the movie with Taissa Farmiga, Alexandra Daddario, Crispin Glover, and Sebastian Stan last night on Netflix last night. I always try to be as spoiler free in these comparisons, but make no promises. Read at your own risk.

Story/Plot Merricat, an 18 year old girl, lives with her older sister, Constance, and her Uncle Julian in the big house at the top of the hill. Only Merricat ventures to the village for food and library books, with ridicule thrown at her every step of the way. Uncle Julian is wheelchair bound and sickly and through his ramblings we learn that Constance never leaves the house because she has been ostracized after she was acquitted of killing the rest of her family members six years earlier. One day cousin Charles arrives and the balance in the house shifts. Merricat, who has always practiced spells of protection, must find a way to get rid of Charles. The plot and storyline was virtually the same in both, EXCEPT for two major points near the end. I’m not going to spoil them. My husband didn’t read the book, but watched the movie with me and when I told him what the two differences were said, “Good. Those were the only two interesting parts of the whole movie.” He’s not totally wrong. I think the movie missed the mark by not having more narration by Merricat. Thumbs Up – Book

The Visual I think the movie stayed mostly true to the book, but I did picture it darker and and little more menacing considering the items Merricat was burying around the property for protection. Thumbs Up- Tie

Characters vs Actors Alexandra Daddario’s Constance was spot on. She channeled the vacuousness perfectly. Although, Farmiga did a fine job as Merricat, I don’t think the movie really showcased her because of the lack of narration I mentioned earlier. Being privy to more of Merricat’s thoughts would have benifited this character. There was more emphasis on Connie and Charles in the movie. Crispin Glover as Uncle Julian was fine and Sebastian Stan as Charles was really good, but the two big things they changed in the story did change the character. I’m still undecided if it was better or worse, just different. Thumbs Up – Book

The Ending Well, the two big changes near the end of the movie don’t really change the end. The ends are the same. Thumbs Up- Tie

And the easy winner is… the book!

Other book vs. movie polls you can still vote on: (Good Morning, Midnight/The Midnight Sky) (Before I Go To Sleep) (The Little Prince) (Charlie St. Cloud) (Far From the Madding Crowd(The Girl on the Train) (Tuck Everlasting)  (Northanger Abbey) (Me Before You) (And Then There Were None) (Still Alice) (The Blind Side) (The Fault in Our Stars) (The Hound of the Baskervilles) (Gone Girl) (Jack Reacher) (Ender’s Game) (Carrie, the original) (Under the Tuscan Sun) (The Secret Life of Bees) (The Shining, the original)

164 Books This Year

With the 8 books I read this week my total for 2021 stands at 164 books and 3 movies based on books. My reading a book a day this year challenge is successfully chugging along. This week I read 2 non-fiction picture books, 2 fiction, 1 historical romance, 1 thriller, 1 poetry, and 1 kids fiction. I did manage to read 3 new books so that’s an improvement 🙂 Have you read any of these?

Here they are in roughly the order I liked them best. It’s hard to do this since they are so different!

Seduce Me at Sunrise by Lisa Kleypas
Seduce Me At Sunrise by Lisa Kleypas

I read Seduce Me At Sunrise by Lisa Kleypas (#2 in the Hathaway series, but I didn’t read the first and still loved this one). A historical romance set in mid 1800s England with a quirky, but proper family who welcomes two Gypsy men into their fold.

This was steamy, but also had an interesting mystery surrounding the two men’s matching tattoos. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will continue on to the third book. 360 pages.

Dawn by Elie Wiesel
Dawn by Elie Wiesel

Elie Weisel, Holocaust survivor, author, and activist. I read his autobiographical Night 6 years ago and loved it, this is considered the second book in that trilogy although it is fiction.

Elisha, a Holocaust survivor is a Israeli freedom fighter (calling themselves the Movement) in British-controlled Palestine. He has been tasked with executing a British hostage at Dawn. This book takes place from dusk til dawn of that day.

It’s a short, introspective book (100 pages) about war, becoming a murderer, and how we as a society got to this point. So much to unpack and I’m sure I’ll read it again.

“I was beginning to understand. An act as absolute as that of killing involves not only the killer but, as well, those who have formed him.”

“We say that ours is a holy war, that we’re struggling against something and for something, against the English and for an independent Palestine. That’s what we say. But those are words; as such they serve only to give meaning to our actions. And in our actions seen in their true and primitive light, have the odor and color of blood. This is war, we say; we must kill. There are those, like you, who kill with their hands, and others-like me-who kill with their voices. Each to his own. And what else can we do? War has a code, and if you deny this you deny its whole purpose and hand the enemy victory on a silver platter.”

This was written in 1960 and, sadly, felt like it could have been written yesterday. I didn’t read this book to connect with the current conflict, but, man, it sure did hit a little harder because of it.

“War is like night. It covers everything.”

The Perfect Couple by Jackie Kabler
The Perfect Couple by Jackie Kabler

Can you spot the perfect couple? Always smiling, touching, sharing private jokes? Maybe they’re both tall and beautiful or have great laughs. Or, perhaps, you are past your teen years and realize there is no such thing.

I’m on the @tlcbooktours today (thank you very much for the book!) and was surprised at how caught up I got in this thriller. It’s not perfect, but it kept me reading every chance I got.

Gemma and her husband move from London to Bristol and one day the husband disappears. The police think it might be the work of a serial killer or even Gemma herself.

I wasn’t surprised by the ending but enjoyed the journey. The author has previously written cozy mysteries and you can feel that influence although this is definitely darker. Fun ride.
Seeds of Freedom by Hester Bass
Seeds of Freedom: The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama

The city was a bit ahead of the curve in the equal rights department in that they were able to change sooner and as peacefully as possible at the time. The first black student to attend an all-white school happened there in 1963 and a private school became the first reverse-integrated in the state when 12 white students started a traditionally black school a week before. Really liked this one, especially the last few pages with additional information and photos of the real people who were there.

The Switch by Beth O'Leary
The Switch by Beth O’Leary

I listened to and read The Switch by Beth O’Leary and while it has nothing to do with cemeteries, the event that drives the story is the death of a sister and granddaughter the year before. Workaholic Lena is forced to take a 2 month sabbatical from work and her grandmother Eileen wants to heal the relationship between her daughter and granddaughter. So they decide to switch places. Lena takes over her grandmother’s village house and responsibilities and Eileen moves into Lena’s London flat with two roommates.

I liked the audio with Daisy Edgar-Jones and Alison Steadman reading the dialing storylines. I loved the indomitable 79 year old Eileen and her London takeover. The story as a whole was sweet.

Impossible Bottle by Claudia Emerson
Impossible Bottle by Claudia Emerson

I read a book of poetry last night l, based solely on the cover. I lucked out that the poet, Claudia Emerson, was actually a Pulitzer Prize winner. This book was published after her death of cancer in 2014. She writes about her experiences with the illness and the everydayness of life that we often miss. I was moved by many of the poems and am happy I took some quiet time to experience the talent and and truth found here. 65 pages

“The World is not Conclusion.” – Emily Dickinson

The One Thing You'd Save by Linda Sue Park
The One Thing You’d Save by Linda Sue Park

“Imagine that your home is on fire. You’re allowed to save one thing. Your family and pets are safe, so don’t worry about them.” This is the assignment Ms. Chang gave to her class on the first page of The One Thing You’d Save.

The author used sijo (an ancient form of Korean poetry) structure in the 65 page picture book. I loved the discussion between the students -it felt very genuine- but I wish the illustration heavy story had been in color.

The answers range from a ratty sweater and iPhone to a rug and autographed baseball program.

A fun story and conversation starter. Gage is still trying to decide on his item, he needs some and told me he’d let me know by the end of the week 😆. For me, it would most likely be a bin full of family history stuff. What about you?

The Teachers March! by Sandra Neil Wallace
The Teacher’s March by Sandra Neil Wallace

This was a nice history of the civil rights period in Selma. I found it dense for the format, but it was nice that many of the events it mentioned we have already read about.

TLC Book Tour – The Perfect Couple

The Perfect Couple by Jackie Kabler, published 2021, 422 pages

Can you spot the perfect couple? Always smiling, touching, sharing private jokes? Maybe they’re both tall and beautiful or have great laughs. Or, perhaps, you are past your teen years and realize there is no such thing.

I’m on the @tlcbooktours today (thank you very much for the book!) and was surprised at how caught up I got in this thriller. It’s not perfect, but it kept me reading every chance I got.

Gemma and her husband move from London to Bristol and one day the husband disappears. The police think it might be the work of a serial killer or even Gemma herself.

I wasn’t surprised by the ending but enjoyed the journey. The author has previously written cozy mysteries and you can feel that influence although this is definitely darker. Fun ride.

Top Ten Tuesday – Sentence Me to a Library

This week’s challenge is 10 titles that are complete sentences. Once again, I found these in my TBR stacks. I read Seduce Me at Sunrise and will be talking about it on my IG today.

Have you read any of these? Which one would you like to read?

Seduce Me at Sunrise by Lisa Kleypas

I Live in the Slums by Can Xue

Where There is Love, There is God by Mother Teresa

Don’t Tell Me You’re Afraid by Giuseppi Catozzella

Expect a Miracle by Sandy Petrovic and David Petrovich

How I Learned to Hate in Ohio by David Stuart Maclean

Are We There Yet? by Kathleen West

We Are Watching Eliza Bright by A E Osworth

The President is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson

We Are Explorers by Kari Herbert

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Be sure to check out her weekly post to find other participants.

A so-so reading week

I read 8 books this week, but only two really stood out for me. Maybe some of my dissatisfaction is stemming from too many kids books! More adult reading on the way 🙂 This brings by yearly total to 156 books.

2 kids fiction, 1 graphic memoir, 1 historical romance, 1 non-fiction, 1 picture book-fiction, 1 picture book non-fiction, 1 kids fiction

Listed in the order I like them best with my thoughts. Have you read any of these?

The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo  Villavicencio
The Undocumented Americans. Published in 2020, 208 pages

“This book is a work of creative nonfiction, rooted in careful reporting, translated as poetry, shared by chosen family, and sometimes hard to read. Maybe you won’t like it. I didn’t write it for you to like it. And I didn’t set out to write anything inspirational.”

“This book is for everybody who wants to step away from the buzzwords in immigration, the talking heads, the kids in graduation caps and gowns, and read about the people underground. Not heroes. Ransoms. People. Characters.”

This book is more than a memoir of her undocumented life, more than a series of interwoven stories of people living in fear, more than what gets printed by news sources. Its’s authentic. It’s raw. It’s impactful. It’s her truth and you do t have to like it. But you will probably gain some insight if you read this slim book. She travels from Ground Zero to Miami, Flint, Cleveland, and beyond.

Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women. Published 2016, 211 pages

 I had fun reading through this international list of strong women, sharing some with Gage when we were sitting together.

Each woman had a bio page and another page with a beautifully drawn portrait. The artwork is where this book shined. I’m considering getting my own copy for that reason alone.

I met women I’d never heard of along with women I’ve long admired. I think the bio pages were okay, but wish they’d felt more complete. But since this is for younger girls they are probably great for whetting the appetite for more exploration.

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn
The Duke and I (Bridgertons #1). Published 2006, 384 pages

After watching the Netflix series, Bridgerton, I thought I’d give the book series it was based on a try. I listened to the audio of The Duke and I and really enjoyed the performance.. Most things in the book are in the series, but not the other way around.

The Bridgerton’s are a large English family that enjoys a life of privilege in London. When Daphne, the fourth born but first daughter, is facing pressure to marry she forges a ruse with her brother’s best friend, the Duke of Hastings.

I liked the book, but really missed the all of the extras from the series. I admit that I missed that larger than life Queen. I missed some of the other friendships that showed up that weren’t in print. I don’t know if I’ll continue to read the series. I may be content enough to catch it onscreen.

Walt Whitman by Nancy Loewen
Walk Whitman. Published 1991

 On the left are his bio pages and on the right are excerpts from his poetry. At 47 pages it’s a pretty book for your shelves and to use as an introduction to Whitman for middle schoolers.

There is one about political parties that is particularly timely.

A fun edition to read on a sunny day and I learned more about Whitman’s life than I remember, particularly his role of caring for the wounded during the Civil War.

Courage for Beginners by Karen Harrington
Courage for Beginners. Published 2014, 320 pages

Seventh grader Mysti has a mother who has agoraphobia, a dad who is in a coma, a best friend who is going to ‘pretend’ to ditch her so he could be popular, and if she doesn’t walk the mile to the grocery store, she and her sister would have nothing to eat. I love the new friendships she forged and the way that she held her family together. This book captured the painful growing that happens in junior high and I liked it. It was fun to read a book that I wouldn’t normally have picked up.

A Giraffe and a Half by Shel Silverstein

A Giraffe and a Half. Published 1964, 48 pages


Gage and I read some Shel Silverstein poetry, watched the 1973 Giving Tree movie by Shel Silverstein, and read A Giraffe and a Half. Gage loved this story much that he read it again to his dad. It was funny, ridiculous, and had an unexpected conclusion. What boy doesn’t want to see a rat, a snake, a skunk, a dragon, and a whale being carried by a giraffe?

The Great Chicago Fire, 1871 by Lauren Tarshis
I Survived the Great Chicago Fire, 1871. Published 2015, 112 pages

We read a chapter or two before bed every night (were lucky there were no nightmares) and immediately after finishing it, Gage started looking to see which one he wanted to read next. He LOVES this series. The book was good, my favorite part being the last 8 pages with facts. Did you know that the deadliest fire in US history took place the same day as this one but was actually 250 miles north in Peshtigo, Wisconsin? Chicago fire killed 300. Peshtigo? Between 1,500-2,500! I need to read more about that!

Mallko & Dad by Gusti
Mallko and Dad. Published 2018, 120 pages

This is a journal/sketchbook by the author/artist Gusti about his son with Down Syndrome. I wanted to love it, and there were pages that hit me with their honesty, one whole two page spread is covered with the words I DID NOT ACCEPT HIM. I was expecting more introspection about how he got from there to the words on the last pages, written largely across the pages “ACCEPTING“ IS WILLINGLY AND GLADLY RECEIVING WHAY WE’VE BEEN OFFERED. The other pages are filled with drawings by dad and son, photos, and some snippets by mom and brother.
It was creative and sweet. It was translated from Spanish and missed something in translation for me but appeals to others given its high GR rating 😁