Carolina Breeze by Denise Hunter

Carolina Breeze

Carolina Breeze. Finished 11-10-20, 3.5/5 stars, romance, 320 pages, pub. 2020

Rising Hollywood star Mia Emerson is looking for a safe place to land in the wake of a public breakup and scandal, and she finds it in the lake town of Bluebell, North Carolina—the location of her canceled honeymoon. She wants nothing more than to hide and wait for the tabloids to die down.

Soon after her arrival at the Bluebell Inn, Mia meets Levi Bennett, who runs the inn along with his two younger sisters. Drawn to one another from the start, Mia trusts Levi to keep her location from the press, and Levi confides in Mia about the financial state of the inn—a secret he’s been keeping from his sisters.

When Mia and Levi discover an old journal that hints at a rare diamond necklace hidden in the inn, they set off on a treasure hunt to find the long-lost heirloom. What they don’t expect to surface are feelings they thought were safely locked away. Mia and Levi must decide if falling in love again is too big a risk—or if it will uncover a treasure of its own instead. from Goodreads

This is a Hallmark movie time of year and this book will fit right in with those plans. It’s all the things you find in the Christmas movies without the Christmas. Mia escapes from the big, bad city (Los Angeles) to hid away in a sweet small town, Carolina inn. The inn is owned and run by three siblings (each having their own book in this trilogy) and Mia falls for the brother. Since she’s beautiful, famous, rich, and sweet, he can’t help but fall for her too.

I liked this one and it was exactly what I needed around stressful election time. There’s a bit of a mystery and some real relationship and personal growth issues to deal with, but in the end you knew everything was going to be okay. Which is what we all need to feel this year especially.

I didn’t read the first or last of the trilogy, but didn’t feel like I was missing much. This works as a standalone. It also serves as a cautionary tale if you are even considering taking over an inn.

October’s Movies & Money for Charity

October was busy so few movies and all were watched while we were on vacation, lol. We are currently watching a few other things like The Haunting of Bly Manor and The Great British Baking Show.

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.

We’re at $55 right now.  Your charity could be next 

The Croods poster.jpg

The Croods, 2013 (Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Duke Clark, Cloris Leachman, Randy Thom) Grade B

It’s not the end of the…oh, wait, maybe it is.

Really surprisingly great. Sold me. (Michelle)

Sweet: family and letting go. (Heather)

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Lost husband.jpg

The Lost Husband, 2020 (Leslie Bibb, Josh Duhamel, Nora Dunn, Sharon Lawrence, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Herizen F. Guardiola) Grade B

Kinda slow but still sweet.

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The Big Wedding Poster.jpg

The Big Wedding, 2013 (Robert DeNiro, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, Katherine Heigl, Amanda Seyfreid, Topher Grace Robin Williams, Christine Ebersole, Ben Barnes) Grade B-

The all-star cast was fun.

With Gage – Mommy Laid an Egg OR Where Do Babies Come From? by Babette Cole

Mommy Laid An Egg: Or, Where Do Babies Come From?

Mommy Laid An Egg

This was Gage’s favorite book of the week. Let me start by saying that I made an error in throwing this in with other picture books in his basket. I didn’t look closely enough or I may have been prepared for the book (or maybe not since it was more graphic than I’d thought it should be. One review called a few of the pages in the middle the ‘ crayon kama sutra’ and they were spot on). But as we snuggled up on the couch and Gage started to read to me I thought I was safe, the parents telling the story were clueless. Then the kids took over and all of the information, with crayon pictures drawn by the kids, came out.

Gage already knew a bit (enough I thought) about where babies come from, but this was another level. After he finished I asked if he had any questions and he flipped back through the pages and asked a few. In the end, I think this was a good fit for Gage’s 10 years. Could younger kids read it? Depends on the kid, as always. I’m glad we read and even thankful for the somewhat crude but funny illustrations.

Gage’s thoughts...

The mom and dad tell their kids where babies come from, but the mom and dad did not tell the truth. The kids know where babies come from and they tell where babies really come from. I liked this book because it has facts about where babies come from. I would recommend this book. 4 1/2 stars.

Dance With Me by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Title: Dance Away with Me (Signed Book), Author: Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Dance With Me. Finished 9-11-20, 4/5 stars, romance, 400 pages, pub. 2020

But instead of peace and quiet, she encounters an enigmatic artist with a craving for solitude, a fairy-tale sprite with too many secrets, a helpless infant, a passel of curious teens, and a town suspicious of outsiders, especially one as headstrong as Tess. Just as headstrong, is Ian North, a difficult, gifted man with a tortured soul—a man who makes Tess question everything.

When life throws her one setback too many, midwife and young widow Tess Hartsong takes off for Runaway Mountain. In this small town high in the Tennessee mountains, surrounded by nature, she hopes to outrun her heartbreak and find the solace she needs to heal. from Goodreads

I love Susan Elizabeth Phillips and pretty much everything she writes. She infuses her stories with larger than life characters, lots of humor, and real romantic sparks. Her latest had all of those things, but there was also a heaviness to the story that was somewhat surprising. Tess and Ian are a great couple and their love story was very satisfying, but there was a lot of loss along the way. The book felt very 2020 even though I know it wasn’t written this year. Fans of SEP and romances set in small town will love it.

Seeds by Ken Robbins

These are the books Gage finished this week. My favorite was The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read by Rita Lorraine Hubbard and Oge Mora, about a woman, born a slave, who learned to read at 116 years old. Highly recommend.

Gage’s favorite was Seeds by Ken Robbins and I highly recommend it as beautifully done introduction to seeds for kids.

Gage’s thoughts…

This book is about all kinds if seeds. I liked the interesting facts about seeds because I love nature. I never heard about sticktight seeds and they are sticky. Maple tree seed wings are called samaras. The photos are incredible. I recommend this for anyone who is interested in seeds or great photos.

A Family Fun Game in a Book – You’re Pulling My Leg! Junior by Allen Wolf

You're Pulling My Leg! Junior Book
You’re Pulling My Leg! Junior

I accepted this book for review, something I’m not doing much anymore since I’m so limited on reading time, because it’s a book AND a game and that sounded like a great combination to me. This was everything I’d hoped it would be. I’d hoped that it would help Gage learn more about how to tell a story and it so did in a fun and creative way. He absolutely loved it and Jason and I loved watching his mind work. He was also good at guessing whether we were telling the truth or lying. I felt like he got so much out it that I counted it for some school time this week 🙂

How it works… The book gives you the ‘cards’ with three stories to choose from. Card one choices are a job you would like to have in the future, something silly you have done, and an animal you thought might bite you. The storyteller secretly flips a coin (not provided) to figure out whether to tell a truth or a lie. They tell the story and the players individually vote on if it true or false. The storyteller gets a point for anyone they fool. Then the next person tells the story and so on until someone gets 21 points and wins the game.

This is based on the board game and put into book form just in time for those 2020 Zoom calls! It was nice to be able to throw it in a suitcase and take it with us on our road trip. There are variations on the rules you can try. Each 3 cards even has a place where you can record funny highlights so the book can become a memory book of happy times the more times you play.

Reactions from the boys. “I loved it! It was so much fun. Can we play again tomorrow?” “I loved being creative and telling stories. Educational for kids.”

I recommend this for any family with kids. Kids learn what makes a good story, how to decide what to risk (they risk 1, 2, or 3 points each time), and how to come up with a story quickly (something Gage often struggles with). We’ll be making this a weekly family fun activity!

Morning Star Games has more fun games I want to check out.

You’re Pulling My Leg! Junior

Thanks to PR by the Book for the complimentary copy.

With Gage – The Haunted Castle by Geronimo Stilton

Title: The Haunted Castle (Geronimo Stilton Series #46), Author: Geronimo Stilton

Every Friday Gage will choose his favorite book from the school week and write a short review of it. Sometimes he’ll write two if his teacher makes him 🙂

The Haunted Castle by Geronimo Stilton, 128 pages, published 2011

Geronimo Stilton (author) is the pseudonym for Elisabetta Dami from Italy

The book is fiction since Geronimo is a mouse.

This is book #46 out of 65.

Geronimo goes to a ceremony at the castle but he doesn’t know what it was. Two mice fall in love and more. I really liked the Stingysnouts, Geronimo’s family because they were crazy. I liked the part where Geronimo figures out that the ceremony is fake. I like the end where Geronimo faints. I would recommend this book to kids who like mouse stories.

Mom’s honorable mention…

Explorers: Ancient Egypt

Explorers: Ancient Egypt by Jinny Johnson. This was a nice precursor to our Ancient Egypt studies. Heavy on the photos and text in small, easy to read bites. This is not comprehensive in any way but a starting place to generate interest.

With Gage – Bunnicula by Deborah and James Howe

Bunnicula

Bunnicula. Written by Deborah and James Howe and illustrated byAlan Daniel. Finished 8-7-20, 5/5 stars, children’s literature, 144 pages, pub. 1979

Oh, how I loved Harold and Chester. And the Monroes. And everything else. This book is a warm blanket on a cold winter’s night. There was humor and intelligence for both you and a child. I appreciated some of the humor more than Gage did, but Chester’s antics had him laughing. A children’s book not to be missed.

Gage’ thoughts…

Bunnicula was a bunny found at the Dracula movie by the Monroes. Chester (the talking cat) thought he was a vampire because he was turning vegetables white, was out of his cage at night, and slept all day. Chester tried starving him, putting a steak (instead of a stake, lol) on his chest. and doused him with water. Chester was right, but not in the way you think. Harold (the talking dog) tells the story.

August & September 5 Word Movie Reviews and Money for Charity

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.

We’re at $53 right now.  Your charity could be next 

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri poster.png Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, 2017 (Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Abbie Cornish, Peter Dinklage, John Hawkes)         Grade A

Hard lines softened and disappeared.

Powerful. One of the best.  Michelle


Enola Holmes poster.jpeg Enola Holmes, 2020 (Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, Sam Clafin, Helena Bonham Carter)     Grade A-

So much sister Sherlock fun!

Delightful! Perfect fourth wall breaking.   Michelle


The Kissing Booth 2 poster.jpg The Kissing Booth 2, 2020 (Joey King, Joel Courtney, Jacob Elordi, Taylor Zachar Perez, Molly Ringwald)   Grade B

Satisfying follow-up to fun original.


21BridgesPoster.jpeg 21 Bridges, 2019 (Chadwick Boseman, Sienna Miller, JK Simmons, Stephan James, Taylor Kitsch, Keith David)   Grade B

Detective on hunt in NYC.


Da 5 Bloods poster.jpeg Da 5 Bloods, 2020 (Delroy Lindo, Jonathan Majors, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Chadwick Boseman, Melanie Thierry, Jean Reno)                               Grade B-

Veterans in search of  Vietnam fortune.


How It Ends (film).png How it Ends, 2018 (Theo James, Forest Whitaker, Grace Dove, Kat Graham, Mark O’Brien)  Grade C-

Our world is maybe ending?

Didn’t live up to expectations.   Michelle

Last Gage reviews from September Challenge

Gage successfully completed the book-a-day challenge in September. Woohoo! I found it increasingly difficult to keep up here and on IG near the end, but we made it. I do plan on having Gage pick a few favorite books of the week and review them here on Fridays. I think we can both manage that.

Thank you all for reading and commenting. It has meant a lot to Gage 🙂

To save time and aggravation I’m posting our last Instagram posts with the book pics.

I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James, 32 pages, published 2020.

I adored this book. A love letter to African American boys about everything good they are and all of the great things they will become. It did not specifically name a race, but all of the gorgeous illustrations were of black boys. I read this story to Gage twice telling him that it was the way I felt about him and he felt that. A nice thing to pick up when your boy is having a bad day.

Gage’s thoughts…

What do you think sums up this book?

“I am not what they might call me, and I will not answer to any name that isn’t my own. I am what I say I am.” (a quote from the book)

Did you like this book?

I loved it.

I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic, 1912 by Lauren Tarsis, art by Haus Studio, 112 pages, pub. 2010.

Gage’s obsession with the Titanic and her sister ships continues. This one, while long, was a fast graphic novel read.

Gage’s thoughts…

Historical fiction means the events are true the people are not real.

George, his sister Phoebe, his aunt Daisy, Enzo, and the Scar-faced man were made up. Mr. Andrews and Captain Smith were real people.

My favorite character was Mr. Andrews because he made the Titanic.

The new thing I learned was that the Titanic had escape ladders.

I recommend this to people who like the Titanic.

Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson, illustrated by Sean Qualls, 40 pages, published 2015.

Emmanuel was born in Ghana, West Africa with only one good leg, but he didn’t let that stop him. Forced to support his mom and siblings at a young age, he did all he could until his mom passed. Then he decided to raise awareness for people with disabilities by biking across Ghana. This is an inspirational story about a man still living and fighting the good fight.

Somehow I have misplaced Gage’s notes on this. If I find them I’ll come back and ad them.

The Fog by Kyo Maclear, art by Kenard Pak, 42 pages, published 2017.

This book could go deeper of course, I believe it is a story about climate change?, but I think it’s a cute picture book for younger kids about the power of working together. We did tie this to our earlier book of Why We March.

Gage’s thoughts…

My favorite person is number 673 Red-Hooded spectacled female (juvenile). There was a bird who liked to go people watching. Fog comes and the bird can’t see people. The person sees the girl and they sent out boats asking Do you see the fog? They floated it out to sea and they waited for a reply but none arrived. They finally get replies and goes away.

Pass Go and Collect $200: The Real Story of How Monopoly Was Invented by Tanya Lee, art by Steven Salerno, 40 pages, published 2018.

Gage loves Monopoly. I did when I was a kid, too, although I have less patience for it now. He did like learning about the real story, although I don’t think he was all that terrible interested and zoned out. I liked the story more than he did 🙂 A woman makes the most popular game in the world and made men rich.

I asked him what new things he learned.

Gage’s answers…

Lizzie Magie made the first Monopoly game. The longest Monopoly game was 1,680 hours.

The man had the name Rich Uncle Pennybags until 1999.

The boat, thimble, and a wheelbarrow were the first pieces. Then they added a penguin, rubber ducky, and t.rex.