Mailbox Monday – June 30

mmb-300x282Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week.Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

IMG_7049I received one box this week, but it was a doozy.  The awesome Jill (of Rhapsody in Books fame) sent Gage and I a box of beautiful kids books.  So generous. Thank you, Jill!

All descriptions taken from Goodreads.

King for a DayKing for a Day by Rukhsana Khan, illustrated by Christiane Kromer

Basant is here, with feasts and parties to celebrate the arrival of spring. But what Malik is looking forward to most is doing battle from his rooftop with Falcon, the special kite he has built for speed. Today is Malik’s chance to be the best kite fighter, the king of Basant.

In two fierce battles, Malik takes down the kites flown by the bully next door. Then Malik moves on, guiding Falcon into leaps, swirls, and dives, slashing strings and plucking kites from the sky. By the end of the day, Malik has a big pile of captured kites. He is the king! But then the bully reappears, trying to take a kite from a girl in the alley below. With a sudden act of kingly generosity, Malik finds the perfect way to help the girl.

This lively, contemporary story introduces readers to a centuries-old festival and the traditional sport of kite fighting, and to a spirited, determined young boy who masters the sport while finding his own way to face and overcome life’s challenges.

The Bedtime Book for DogsThe Bedtime Book for Dogs by Bruce Littlefield, illustrated by Paul S Heath

THE BEDTIME BOOK FOR DOGS is a charming story about a dog who decides that he’d rather walk to the park by himself than wait for his human companion-and discovers that all of his usual activities aren’t as much fun without a good friend to share them with. This is an adorably packaged book with illustrations by Paul Heath that makes a perfect gift for dog lovers of all ages, with words dogs will understand and kids will want to read again and again.

It's a Firefly NightIt’s a Firefly Night by Dianne Ochiltree, art by Betsy Snyder

Part glittery counting book, part endearing daddy-daughter story! A favorite childhood activity—catching fireflies—glows from the pages of this story, plus counting. Lilting rhymes chronicle a little girl’s capture and release of fireflies, one by one, capped off by a collection of fascinating firefly facts.

Desmond and the Very Mean WordDesmond and the Very Mean Word by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams, illustrated by AG Ford

Based on a true story from Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s childhood in South Africa, Desmond and the Very Mean Word reveals the power of words and the secret of forgiveness.

When Desmond takes his new bicycle out for a ride through his neighborhood, his pride and joy turn to hurt and anger when a group of boys shout a very mean word at him. He first responds by shouting an insult, but soon discovers that fighting back with mean words doesn’t make him feel any better. With the help of kindly Father Trevor, Desmond comes to understand his conflicted feelings and see that all people deserve compassion, whether or not they say they are sorry. Brought to vivid life in A. G. Ford’s energetic illustrations, this heartfelt, relatable story conveys timeless wisdom about how to handle bullying and angry feelings, while seeing the good in everyone.

The Sandman: The Story of Sanderson MansnoozieThe Sandman:The Story of Sanderson Mansnoozie by William Joyce

The Man in the Moon has a problem.

Most nights, he beams down at the children of Earth, providing them with an inextinguishable nightlight that keeps nightmares at bay. But what happens when it’s foggy or cloudy? When the moon is less than full and bright? Who will keep the children safe at night? 

He needs a helper! And he’s spied just the fellow: a sleepy little guy named Sanderson Macsnoozie (Sandy, for short), who might be perfect…if only the Man in the Moon can get him to wake up.


So what arrived in your mailbox this week?

Sundays with Gage – Summer Camp

IMG_7075This week Gage started summer camp and he his having a lot of fun, as you might be able to tell from the binoculars he made during jungle week.  They spend an hour each day outside in the kiddie pools or on the playground, what’s not to like about that?  In this Thrilling Three class they also eat lunch there, so for the first time I am having to come up with gluten-free, dairy-free, AND Kosher lunches (this is a Jewish preschool).  He pretty much had the same thing every day this week so I need to come up with a few more ideas today.

I don’t think I ever wrote about Gage’s school experiences this past year, but I’ll try to sum it up for you.  He entered our city’s integrated preschool (4 days) in the fall and then I sent him to this Jewish preschool one day a week.  After a few months his behavior was bad at the Jewish school and the director asked us to take a break during December and to come back in January.  I never sent him back.  Gage’s behaviors maybe were rough, but not anything we were seeing anywhere else.  I think some teachers who aren’t familiar with kids on the spectrum tend to place the blame there and leave it at that.  It was a shame.  But, we wanted to send him back to spend the summer with his old friends (and it’s less than 5 minutes from our house) and I talked to the director about it and she told me that I would have to send a shadow with him.  We decided to pay for the camp and the aides, with the understanding that maybe we could cut the aides time down after a few weeks if he was doing well.

On Friday she pulled me aside when I dropped him off to tell me that we have done an amazing job with him and that her daughter (one of his teachers) said with or without the aide he was one of the best kids in the class.  She told me how she found it hard to believe he even had a diagnosis.   Did this make me feel good?  Yes, of course it did.  I am sure that he will have bad days just like any other kid, but he made it through the week without his aides having to do anything.  Well, our Friday aide helped them change diapers – so glad we can pay for an extra pair of hands (sarcasm).

So, yes I am happy and it’s nice to know that he is doing as well as I thought he would in the first place.  And I’m hoping that he has another great week so that I can confidently tell the director, “I told you so!”

Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew by Ellen Notbohm

Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew: Updated and Expanded EditionTen Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew. Finished 5-13-14, rating 5/5, autism, 200 pages, expanded version pub. 2012

Brimming with insight, compassion, and spirited humor, Ellen Notbohm’s timeless book describes ten characteristics that help illuminate—not define—children with autism. This updated edition delves into expanded thought and deeper discussion of communication issues, social processing skills, and the critical role adult perspectives play in guiding the child with autism to a meaningful, self-sufficient, productive life. An all-new section explores ten more essential, thought-provoking “things” to share with young people on the spectrum as they cross the threshold of adulthood, and a thoughtful appendix offers more than 70 questions suitable for group discussion or self-reflection. A perennial autism bestseller, Ten Things now sounds an even more resonant call to action, carrying the reader farther into understanding the needs and the potential of every child with autism.

from Goodreads

This book is a must-read for anyone who knows a kid on the autism spectrum, and that’s pretty much everyone!  The author has a son with autism and this book was written so that she could help others see what it took years with her son to learn and in that respect it is a very hopeful and encouraging book for parents because her son has defied every low expectation ever placed on him.  She does not wallow in the struggles but offers explanation and understanding.  Every child on the spectrum is so different, but most share issues with communication, social, and sensory issues to varying degrees and this book helps you recognize where each child has strengths and weaknesses.

At only 200 pages this is an easy one to recommend and gives a layperson great insight without going into scientific or medical detail.  I loved it so much that I gifted it to Gage’s teacher at the end of the year (she will be his teacher next year too).  I think this should be required reading for all teachers who have a kid on the spectrum in their classroom.

Here is a taste of the ten things just so you all know even if you decide not to read the book.

1. I am a child.

2. My senses are out of sync.

3. Distinguish between won’t and can’t.

4. I’m a concrete thinker.

5. Listen to all the ways I’m trying to communicate.

6. I’m visually oriented.

7. Focus and build on what I can do rather than what I can’t do.

8. Help me with social interactions.

9. Identify what triggers my meltdowns.

10. Love me unconditionally.


This was from my personal library.

The Vessel by Taylor Stevens

The Vessel: A Vanessa Michael Munroe NovellaThe Vessel. Finished 6-22-14, rating 4/5, pub.2014

#3.5 of the Vanessa Michael Monroe series (1-Informationist) (2- The Innocent) (3- The Doll)

Some people were easy to find. Others took hunting and patience. The most difficult was a target who knew she was coming, and he knew. How could he not? When you backed a predator into a corner, when you took and destroyed all that she loved, when you made a game of ruining lives and sadism for you was sport, but then you failed to kill the predator: you’d better know she was coming back. This was an inviolable law. She wasn’t dead, and so she was coming for him. She had his face, had the name of a city. In the right hands, anything could be mined into so much more. She would find him. Kill him. Simple as that.

from Goodreads

I should start by saying that I almost skipped this between-the-numbers novella because I really don’t care for them.  They seem to be all the rage, but I like by books as book-length, that you very much.  With that said, I admit that I picked this one up for my Nook mainly because Stevens really sold it by loving it so much.  When an author is on social media telling people it’s her favorite I take note.  And since I just read The Doll I thought it would be worth a look. And it was.

At the end of The Doll we know that Michael takes care of business, but we didn’t know how until this story.  I liked the continuation of sorts of the previous book and the novella length gave Stevens a chance to take her time with the action since there was only one storyline.  It was a nice change of pace.  Michael was still her badass self  and countless dead bodies are left in her wake.

This is a nice way to get a taste of the series without the time commitment of a full book AND it is a good addition to the series for those that are already fans.  A great series for readers of the Jack Reacher!

For less that $1 you really can’t go wrong!

Mailbox Monday – June 23

mmb-300x282Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week.Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

Gage’s first week off from school has left me terribly behind in my blog hopping.  He starts camp a few hours a day on Tuesday so maybe I can catch up with you all this week!

IMG_6972received from HarperCollins, a 24 Hour Read-a-Thon win!

The Cutting Season by Attica Locke

Just after dawn, Caren walks the grounds of Belle Vie, the historic plantation house in Louisiana that she has managed for four years. Today she sees nothing unusual, apart from some ground that has been dug up by the fence bordering the sugar cane fields. Assuming an animal has been out after dark, she asks the gardener to tidy it up. Not long afterwards, he calls her to say it’s something else. Something terrible. A dead body. At a distance, she missed her. The girl, the dirt and the blood. Now she has police on site, an investigation in progress, and a member of staff no one can track down. And Caren keeps uncovering things she will wish she didn’t know. As she’s drawn into the dead girl’s story, she makes shattering discoveries about the future of Belle Vie, the secrets of its past, and sees, more clearly than ever, that Belle Vie, its beauty, is not to be trusted. 

IMG_6971Picked up these two at independent bookstore, Visible Voice Books in Tremont.  I heard author Debra Chwast and her son, Seth, speak at a luncheon last year about his journey through art and I’m excited about reading about their story.

An Unexpected Life: A Mother and Son’s Story of Love, Determination, Autism, and Art by Debra Chwast

Diagnosed with severe autism as a toddler, Seth Chwast seemed trapped in his own insular universe. His family endured anguish, sought countless therapies, and almost gave up hope. Then, at age 20, Seth took a painting class, and everything changed. Miraculously, he revealed an innate ability to create amazing artworks that reflect his own unique perspective and gave him a voice he had never had.
 Written by Seth’s mother, Debra, An Unexpected Life tells the story of their long difficult path, and her determination to help her son. Although Seth cannot safely cross the street alone, he is an icon for anyone who has been in a hopeless situation and then triumphs. More than simply a memoir, this visually breathtaking volume is infused with hope, inspiration, and art.

Brotherly Love by Pete Dexter

Left an orphan when the car his father, a powerful Philly union boss, is driving careens out of control, Peter Flood tries to distance himself from the family business while his cousin, Michael, enters the world of crime. 

IMG_6973surprises sent from Red Feather Productions

Stillwell by Michael Phillip Cash

Paul Russo’s wife just died. While trying to get his family’s life back in order, Paul is being tormented by a demon who is holding his wife’s spirit hostage on the other side. His fate is intertwined with an old haunted mansion on the north shore of Long Island called Stillwell Manor. Paul must find clues dating back hundreds of years to set his wife’s soul free.

The Hanging Tree by Michael Phillip Cash

The Hanging Tree. Set amid the eerie backdrop of Long Island, an area famously steeped in old legend, two young would-be lovers contemplate their future while visits from those who have come before them reveal the lure of fate…and the power of free will. At seventeen years old, Arielle’s relationship with her parents is slowly deteriorating. Angry and defiant, she is at a loss on how to cope with the tumultuous situation in which she finds herself. Arielle’s only comfort is Chad, an eighteen-year-old young man who seems to truly understand her struggles.

I Want to Do Yoga Too by Carole P Roman

Hallie and her mother go to the yoga studio. Hallie wants to join her mom’s yoga class, but she isn’t allowed. She complains to the babysitter, who gently guides her through four yoga poses. Hallie learns that not only is yoga easy, but fun as well.

If You Were Me and Lived in Australia by Carole P Roman

 Among the topics that are introduced in this journey to Australia are the unusual indigenous animals, the extraordinary Great Barrier Reef, the currency, the beloved game of cricket and the national holiday, Australia Day, as well as the special nicknames people have for one another and the curious taste sensation, Vegemite. 


So, did you get anything fun in your mailbox this week?

Miracle Cure by Harlan Coben

Miracle CureMiracle Cure. Finished 6-14-14, rating 3/5, thriller, 391 pages, pub. 1991

A stunning, controversial, nonstop thriller that careens through the inner halls of high-stakes medical research, the upper echelons of Washington politics, and the steamy streets of Bangkok, on the trail of a dangerous and deadly cure for AIDS.

from Goodreads

On the very first page of this re-released book is a note from the author, bestselling author Harlan Coben.  He tells you to put it down if you haven’t read any other books by him. Why?  Well, the very obvious reason is that the book isn’t really up to snuff with his other thrillers.  I think this is his second book and while I’m a huge fan, I’m not sure if I’ll be going back to read the first.

This centers around a clinic looking for and possibly finding a cure for AIDS in the early 90’s.  Their top-secret patients are showing signs of being cured and the three doctors are trying to perfect the treatment before going public.  Newswoman Sara and her NBA player, Michael, are good friends with one of the doctors and are very familiar with the clinic.  There is a religious televangelist trying to make AIDS into God’s war against gays and there are politicians more than willing to settle old scores before considering what’s best for the American people.  Oh, and there is a gay slasher who is killing the cured.

There’s a lot going on and Coben deftly keeps the story moving. I didn’t mind the outdated story about AIDS, it’s a snapshot of a time that I remember well, but there were pages of fairly preachy dialogue that I just barely skimmed past.  The story was all over the place and there were plenty of loose ends, but I was surprised by the killer, so that was good.

Who should read this one?  Anyone who thinks their writing is no good and never will be.  Read this and then Tell No One and see how far one author can go.  This was from my personal library.

Rescue by Anita Shreve

RescueRescue. Finished audio 6-13-14, rating 3/5, fiction, pub. 2010

Unabridged audio read by Dennis Holland.  7.5 hours.

A rookie paramedic pulls a young woman alive from her totaled car, a first rescue that begins a lifelong tangle of love and wreckage. Sheila Arsenault is a gorgeous enigma–streetwise and tough-talking, with haunted eyes, fierce desires, and a never-look-back determination. Peter Webster, as straight an arrow as they come, falls for her instantly and entirely. Soon Sheila and Peter are embroiled in an intense love affair, married, and parents to a baby daughter. Like the crash that brought them together, it all happened so fast. 

from Goodreads

I consider myself an Anita Shreve fan even though this is only the fifth book I’ve read by her.  She has a way of making her characters so real and relatable that she draws you in no matter the story.  I was missing a little bit of that in this one.  Webster was easy to like as the good, always-able-to-count on guy.  I mean he made his life’s work rescuing people so you know he has a heart of gold, but Sheila as his first rescued soul is not as easy to understand.  And what you do understand isn’t necessarily good.  Sheila has some demons and a husband and newborn daughter are not going to make them go away.  When the going gets tough, so does Webster and he ends up raising his daughter alone and I was rooting for them to make a new, happy life together.

The story itself was safe, boring, depressing?  It was solid but nothing new here, just a few characters who I never really understood together and the hope of a better life for their daughter.

So, this didn’t totally work for me, but it was good and I’m still looking forward to reading all of Shreve’s other books 🙂

I checked the audio out of the library and thought Dennis Holland did a great narration.

Mailbox Monday – June 16

mmb-300x282Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week.Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

tfiosThe Fault in Our Stars. I know that I am possibly the last book blogger left in America who has not read this YA tear-jerker and now I have no excuse.  I won this in a Face book giveaway from my old stomping grounds, Geauga County Public Library.  Thank you for mailing it, Brigid!

IMG_6663Legendary Journeys:Trains.  I broke down and bought this one for Gage after we’d had it checked out of the library for awhile.  It is so much fun for a kid who loves trains!  It is pretty much just the history of trains with beautiful pull-outs. I’ll show one just so you get a taste.trains

IMG_6662roman booksThese books and various goodies were sent by Read Feather Productions. (The Flip, The Crew Goes Coconuts, If You Were Me and Lived in…Russia, If You Were Me and Lived in… Portugal. Thank you!!

Anything fun arrive in your mailbox this week?

Sundays with Gage – Goodbye School, Hello Summer

My baby is growing up.  It’s funny because I wanted to put a sad face after that sentence and that surprises me.  I spend a lot of time struggling with bad behvior and teaching him things he may or may not want to learn while trying to fit fun activities in between all of the school and various groups or therapies he has scheduled.  Sometimes I forget to take a deep breath and soak it all in.  I love this age.   Gage is 3 1/2 and just finished his first year at the integrated preschool  at our public school.  He had great teachers, made some friends, learned new skills and he loved it.  It was sad for me to know that he would miss his teachers this summer.

He’s grown up so much this year and I am so proud of him.  Lots of kids his age have spent the last year playing and spending time with mom, dad or grandma, and Gage has had to carve out more time for learning. Some of that is just my fear of him falling behind, but a lot of it is because everything I read about kids on the spectrum tells me that it’s what he needs to be doing to thrive.  But there are days when I know he doesn’t spend enough time just hanging out with mom so I am looking forward to more time with my kid this summer.  Sort of.  Soon he starts a six week camp at his old school, but I’m pretty sure that it’s three hours of mostly pool, playground, and fun time.  Oh, the life of a busy three year old!

Here are a few pics from his last day of school.  teachers on last daybenjamindancing

The Cliff House Strangler by Shirley Tallman

The Cliff House Strangler (Sarah Woolson Series #3)The Cliff House Strangler. Finished 5-7-14, rating 4/5, historical mystery, 320 pages, pub. 2007

#3 of the Sarah Woolson series (1-Muder on Nob Hill) (2 The Russian Hill Murders)

Nineteenth-century attorney Sarah Woolson is still trying to get her life together. Against her family’s wishes, she opens her own San Francisco law firm, only to find that clients—paying clients, that is—are wary of allowing a woman to manage their legal affairs. Just when her patience, as well as her money, are about to run out, Sarah and her friend and former colleague, Robert Campbell, attend a séance at San Francisco’s Cliff House. Making their way through the worst storm of the season, they arrive at their destination to find themselves in for much more than, in Robert’s words, “silly parlor tricks.” After a dramatic display of spirit apparitions, flying trumpets, and phantom music, Madame Olga Karpova—a renowned Russian clairvoyant—and her guests make a grisly discovery: One of the twelve people seated at the table has been brutally strangled.

from Goodreads

Sarah Woolson is a strong young woman living in a time when strong women were frowned upon.  It’s 1880 and she has opened her own law practice, the only woman in San Francsico.  She still lives with her wealthy and powerful family, but she causes them a lot of grief by doing so because she regularly gets into serious trouble.  I love this character.

It took me much longer to get into this book than the first two, but once everything got rolling it was fun reading.  I like that her lawyer friend, Robert, is becoming a big part of her life, but I do worry about his heart. I’m not sure id Sarah is ready for that.

This is a good series for mystery or historical lovers.  This is the weakest of the three so far, so I would definitely start with the first one, Murder on Nob Hill.

I had this one in my personal library and read it for my one and only challenge this year, Finishing the Series Reading Challenge.