Megabat and Fancy Cat by Anna Humphrey

Title: Megabat and Fancy Cat, Author: Anna Humphrey Megabat and Fancy Cat.  Finished 7-25-20, children’s fiction, 171 pages, pub. 2019

Illustrated by Kass Reich

Megabat series #2 (1-Megabat)

Megabat was looking forward to Christmas morning: presents, playing toys, smooshfruit and watching Star Wars. But then Daniel opened his last, most special present.

Daniel thinks this might be the best Christmas present yet: a beautiful cat named Priscilla! He’s always wanted a pet.

Megabat is not sure he likes this cat. She tastes most hairy.

Daniel loves his new cat! She’s fun to play with, and she’s so soft and fluffy.

Megabat is not soft OR fluffy. He’s not purebred and he doesn’t have a big, beautiful swishy tail. What if Daniel loves Priscilla more than Megabat? This is truly a disturbance in the Force. Megabat and Birdgirl must find a way to get rid of this trubble cat once and for all!    from Penguin Random House

Answers by Gage

Why didn’t Megabat and Fancy Cat get along?

Fancy Cat (Priscilla) got all the attention and Megabat didn’t like it.

Your favorite thing about Megabat was…

all of  the the crazy ideas he came up with to get rid of Fancy Cat.

Which one was your favorite idea?

When he painted himself to look fancy like Priscilla.

What’s the lesson in the story?

Don’t be jealous or mean, be welcoming and nice.

Did you like this book?

Thumbs up!


The Brave Learner by Julie Bogart

The Brave Learner: Finding Everyday Magic in Homeschool, Learning, and Life The Brave Learner. Finished 7-22-20, 4/5 stars, education, 294 pages, pub. 2019

Parents who are deeply invested in their children’s education can be hard on themselves and their kids. When exhausted parents are living the day-to-day grind, it can seem impossible to muster enough energy to make learning fun or interesting. How do parents nurture a love of learning amid childhood chaos, parental self-doubt, the flu, and state academic standards?

In this book, Julie Bogart distills decades of experience–homeschooling her five now grown children, developing curricula, and training homeschooling families around the world–to show parents how to make education an exciting, even enchanting, experience for their kids, whether they’re in elementary or high school.      from Goodreads

“When parents collaborate, kids learn”  page 65

I checked out a lot of homeschooling books when I made the decision to jump in an do it this year.  This was the first one I read and it was inspirational, to a point.  This mother chose to do a more child-centered homeschool than I would be comfortable with attempting.  The book is full of creative and positive ways that you might approach your day, your kids, and learning, but if you are looking for a nuts and bolts instructional book, this is probably not the one to use.

I loved the positive energy and the stories, but wondered about some of the things she recommends, like not having nice things, even going as far as denting your table early on so you don’t have to worry about it staying nice.  Her approach to cleaning the house is another somewhat controversial area (at least given the amount of flak she’s taken about it on GR reviews).  Kids will learn to clean toilets, dishes and floors as they need to as an adult so don’t feel bad about hiring help.  In general, I’m not against help.  When Gage was an infant we hired someone to come every other week for 2 1/2 hours to clean bathrooms and floors.  But, somehow, now that Gage is home I feel like this needs to be part of what he learns to do.  I say that now, I guess, in three months you might hear me admitting to having Henri come help out again 🙂

This is a very kid-centered way of learning and something that every parent could get inspiration from, not just ones choosing to teach at home.  She is a facilitator and mentor, not necessary mom, when school is taking place.  I enjoyed the perspective, creative energy, and vibe of the book.  I would have loved attending her homeschool!


Authors I’ve been lucky enough to meet

I saw these lists popping up on a few blogs and couldn’t resist taking stock of my own close encounters with bestselling authors.  As I started making notes I wondered how I was going to list them.  Favorites first?  Pulitzer Prize winners lead the way?  The authors I’ve met more than once?  Best selling?  Locals first?  Too many choices!  So, I decided to stick with the authors I have photos of and to be as random as possible in the order I list these wordsmiths 🙂

taylor3 Taylor Stevens.  I met Taylor in 2012 at Bouchercon before I’d read her book.  I had a second chance to dine with her in 2013.  I’ve read and loved both of her series.

Thrity Umrigar is a bestselling author and she’s local.  You can read how she ended up in Cleveland from her home in India.

eloisa Eloisa James was a fun evening.  I love Shakespeare so hearing a Shakespeare professor wax poetic about romance was a treat.

avon1 Susan Elizabeth Phillips is one of my all-time romance faves and I was able to meet her and others when Avon KissCon came to Cleveland in 2016.

Anthony Doerr grew up in the Cleveland area and way before he won his Pulitzer Prize he visited to talk about his book Four Season in Rome (which I loved).

IMG_5457 Paula McLain is another bestselling local and she was was a great speaker.  She was actually in Solon last year at a fun event put on by the library.

IMG_E5464 Ian Rankin made his way to Cleveland from Scotland for just one night (thank you Cuyahoga County Public Library!)  I could have listened to him talk all night.  I love his books.

SAPR4534 Harlan Coben is one of my all-time favorites and I’ve read all of his books.  Jason and I met him in Houston years and years ago and last year when he came to Cleveland I took my mom.

GYLC9260 Kristan Higgins is another favorite and it was a treat to hear her speak last year.  It was an emotional time for me and she made it better 🙂

Image may contain: 2 people, including Stacy Bush Putman, people smiling Bernie Kosar is a Cleveland legend and, yes, he wrote a book and came to our local Friends of the Library event. He spent and hour charming the crowd before talking to the almost 200 people who were able to get tickets.

Beth Hoffman is one of the warmest people you will ever meet.  This is me meeting her for the fist time in 2010 and I also met her again on tour for her second book.

There are more on my list, but I am tired 🙂  Here are some of the other big names I’ve met, but have no picture proof (or I’m too lazy to find them right now): Diana Gabaldon, Mitch Albom, Tracy Chevalier, Mary Doria Russell, Carl Hiaasen, Emilie Richards, Les Roberts…

Who on my list have you also met?

This Week – The year that keeps on giving

Fave pic IMG_5312 (2) Gage, who in the past has not shown any preference for how his hair is cut or even what clothes he wears, has been adamant that we not cut his hair.  I think he had a haircut in January and my mom tricked him into trimming his bangs a few months ago.  I’m just so happy to see that he cares about it to let it go for now.  We were cuddling when I traded my pony tail for his. He was not impressed.  His hair, “likes to be free.”  lol

Highlights of the week  I sent my homeschool paperwork into the school district and now we just wait to hear if there’s anything else they need.  Each state is different, but in Ohio it’s just a letter of intent and an intended curriculum.  As a first timer who is not using an established online school, the curriculum was a little intimidating.  I’d like to do a post a week on our homeschooling journey so I’ll save the details for that.

Could’ve been better  Gage pointed out a bump in his groin area last weekend as as soon as I saw it I knew it was a hernia.  Jason had his a few years ago, but his was near his belly button.  So, the virtual visit with the pediatrician confirmed it and said to find  pediatric surgeon 😦   I found the one we wanted and we can’t get a consult until August 31st.  So, I’ll have to keep an eye on it because we may not be able to wait that long.

Books finished The Brave Learner: Finding Everyday Magic in Homeschool, Learning, and Life Title: Megabat and Fancy Cat, Author: Anna Humphrey

Reviews posted Title: The Homeschooling Option: How to Decide When It's Right for Your Family, Author: L. Rivero review  Salvation Station review

Currently reading Title: Home Learning Year by Year, Revised and Updated: How to Design a Creative and Comprehensive Homeschool Curriculum, Author: Rebecca Rupp

Currently listening Gone Tomorrow (Jack Reacher, #13)

In the mail  Title: Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Author: Bryan Stevenson Title: Feels Like Falling, Author: Kristy Woodson Harvey

On the TV We finished up the Polish miniseries based on Harlan Coben’s book The Woods.

Plans for the weekend Some nature walks and we’re going to try Ticket to Ride Rails and Sails for the first time.  We’ve been playing the easier side, the Great Lakes, but the world side looks much more intimidating with additional rules.  We are headed to our friend’s home tomorrow.  They have a big pool and Gage needs some fun time with a friend, even if we are going to be sticklers about the social distancing.


The Homeschooling Option by Lisa Rivero

Title: The Homeschooling Option: How to Decide When It's Right for Your Family, Author: L. Rivero The Homeschooling Option.  Finished 7-18-20, 4.5/5, homeschool reference, 225 pages, pub. 2008

In this accessible and honest look at homeschooling, Lisa Rivero explores the diverse faces of homeschooled students and the ways in which it can help children with special learning needs. She corrects misconceptions through profiles of diverse families and addresses the changing and complex needs of children today. This book addresses the major questions parents are bound to have as they consider this option: socialization, curriculum, special needs arrangements, resources, and more.   from Goodreads

This book was a nice introduction to the concept of homeschooling.  It spoke directly to many of my concerns about socialization since Rivero and her husband taught their  only son at home (while they both had jobs for many of  the years).  It addressed the many different ways that parents use to teach their children and how there is no right way, only a right way for you.  It also offered a few resource lists, one of the books I ordered right away and feel much more confident because of it (Home Learning Year by Year: How to Design a Creative and Comprehensive Homeschool Curriculum by Rebecca Rupp).  There was a chapter on special needs and one showing you how to find the different rules of each state.  While every parent in every state is allowed to teach their child at home, each state has different requirements.  For Ohio you have to send a letter to the superintendent informing him and include an intended curriculum and source material.  I sent my letter and curriculum outline in yesterday.  They have two weeks to respond if they need additional information.  Fingers crossed I provided all that was required.

A good starting point if you are considering homeschooling in this crazy year.

Salvation Station by Kathryn Schleich

Salvation Station Salvation Station. Finished 7-18-20, 3.5/5, thriller, 311 pages, pub. 2020

Despite her years of experience investigating homicides for the force, Captain Linda Turner is haunted by the murders of the Hansen family. The two small children, clothed in tattered Disney pajamas, were buried with their father, a pastor, in the flower garden behind a church parsonage in Lincoln, Nebraska. But Mrs. Hansen is nowhere to be found—and neither is the killer.

In St. Louis, the televangelist Ray Williams is about to lose his show—until one of his regular attendees approaches him with an idea that will help him save it. Despite his initial misgivings, Ray agrees to give it a try. He can’t deny his attraction to this woman, and besides, she’d assured him the plan is just—God gave her the instructions in a dream.

Multiple story lines entwine throughout this compelling mystery, delving into the topics of murder, religious faith, and the inherent dangers in blindly accepting faith as truth. While Reverend Williams is swept up in his newfound success and plans for his wedding, Captain Turner can only hope that she and her team will catch the Hansens’ cunning killer—before more bodies surface.  from Goodreads

This covers a few touchy subjects.  What kind of woman might murder her own children?  Shouldn’t the fake men and women of faith that appear on infomercials be held accountable for milking money out of trusting souls?  Why do seemingly good men fall for the women who will most likely ruin their lives?  How far would a friend go to look out for your interests?

I liked Linda, the captain who couldn’t get murdered children out of her mind while the killer still ran free.  I hated the woman she was after, just like I was supposed to do.  Most of the book was about a good man falling prey to a devious woman and becoming a man who lost his moral code.  It was hard to read in that respect.  I liked getting to know a few of the people directly affected by his ministry and thought that was well done.

It’s hard to say I liked it, because there was so much evil compromising people of faith.  But it was a read that was hard to put down after about halfway through and the killer was one that will be hard to forget.  A well done first novel.



This Week – Big Changes Ahead

Fave pic NXKA4411 (2) This was my library stack.  I also have an Amazon/BN stack.

Highlights of the week Gage went to the dentist and found out his last seven baby teeth are all loose and he lost one this week!  The highlight of the week was making the decision to homeschool Gage this year.  There are so many reasons for this, but, in truth, I’ve always wanted to try it and thought at one point or another we’d give it a go.  I’m excited and a bit terrified.  I’ve spent most of the week reading with so much more to be done.  The hardest thing was notifying Gage’s school, one that’s been our family’s safety net for the last four years, and then reading the sweet messages from the other moms of the class when I told them.  As I research, I’m trying to be as open as possible to all of the different theories and ways to homeschool.  I notify our school district tomorrow with all of the proper paperwork (and my curriculum, yikes!) and then it becomes real.  I’m finally going to put my education degree to the use for which it was intended!

Books finished Salvation StationCrime readers will like it, I did! Title: Evvie Drake Starts Over, Author: Linda Holmes loved it!  The Homeschooling Option: How to Decide… A good place to start.

Books reviewed Title: The Princess Plan, Author: Julia London review

Currently reading   This Blessed Mess: Finding Hope Amidst …  Ongoing morning devotional.  The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the …

Currently listening Gone Tomorrow (Jack Reacher, #13) Reacher #13

On the TV We finished season 6 of Bosch and started the Netflix miniseries The Woods based on the Harlan Coben book.

Movies watched  Last night was our second monthly movie night.  We switched it up and everyone got to choose movies.  I made it through these three (the guys made it through one more and came to bed at 3 am!).

The Lego Movie 2 The Second Part theatrical poster.jpg Honey I blew up the kid film poster.jpg Independence day movieposter.jpg

Plans for the weekend Nothing but completing my curriculum today.  We’ve been invited to a few pools this last week and have decided to stay home for another week or so.  I’m feeling okay about that decision since one of the kids who also plays at one of the houses tested positive for covid this week.  Stay healthy friends.

The Princess Plan by Julia London

Title: The Princess Plan, Author: Julia London The Princess Plan.   Finished 7-1-20, 3.5/5, historical romance, pub. 2019
Book 1 of A Royal Wedding series

Nothing gets the tongues of London’s high society wagging like a good scandal. And when the personal secretary of the visiting Prince Sebastian of Alucia is found murdered, it’s all anyone can talk about, including Eliza Tricklebank. Her unapologetic gossip gazette has benefited from an anonymous tip about the crime, prompting Sebastian to take an interest in playing detective—and an even greater interest in Eliza.

With a trade deal on the line and mounting pressure to secure a noble bride, there’s nothing more salacious than a prince dallying with a commoner. Sebastian finds Eliza’s contrary manner as frustrating as it is seductive, but they’ll have to work together if they’re going to catch the culprit. And when things heat up behind closed doors, it’s the prince who’ll have to decide what comes first—his country or his heart.    from Goodreads

Eliza had been rebuffed by society because when she was young she dared to believe a gentleman and his honorable intentions toward her.  She now helped her blind father, a judge, and liked to fix clocks.  I liked her independent spirit.  Prince Sebastian was on his way through town to finalize a trade deal and find a wife.  He was entitled and Eliza let him know it.  His best friend is murdered and no one seems all that interested in finding out who did it except for him and then Eliza.

As I said, I liked Eliza and am happy that she got her happy ending.  I thought mystery moved the story along and Sebastian was a fine enough hero.  It was missing something for me, but it was an enjoyable listen during these stressful times.



This Week – Catching Up

Fave Pic PVGF5334 We went to a park last week and played Ticket to Ride New York before our nature walk.

Highlights of the past few weeks I took off last week for my mental health.  As  the COVID numbers rise and many of our friends going back to some semblance of business as usual, I’ve had to take a step back.  As adults who like spending time together the issue isn’t really about us, but Gage, nine, who has friends who are going to camp and playing together in their neighborhoods. Mask-free of course.  Trying to balance a childhood between social development and physical health is a challenge.  And we received the plan for his private school, either you’re all in or your 100% at home with live streaming of the classroom only.  I’m now considering other options.  Stressful decisions need to be made.

On the plus side, our library opened.  I used to spend hours there multiple times a week, but with local COVID numbers on the rise, I’ve decided to focus on a different way.  I go in, grab a few bags of books, bring them home and try to sell them on our FB page.  I go back to the library to put the holds for customers on the shelf and grab more books.  Keeps my exposure lower, but it involves more trips to the library.  I’ve also been filling our local Little Free Libraries with books from the library.

Gage had a bike play date with a friend this week with another one with a different friend planned tomorrow.  I think I enjoy the time with the moms maybe even more than he enjoys the biking.

Because the numbers in the area have been going up for weeks Jason has been working from home full-time again.  I admit that I like the arrangement.  He ordered himself new office furniture this week so I think he sees it as the new normal.  He also gave himself a haircut which frightens me.  He has a Zoom call with a new client on Monday so hopefully my mom can fix the damage.

Books finished A Desperate Fortune Kearsley was delightful, as always.  Title: The Princess Plan, Author: Julia London The audio was a nice diversion to the real world.

Books reviewed Title: Such a Fun Age, Author: Kiley Reid review, Title: The Ask and the Answer (Reissue with bonus short story) (Chaos Walking Series #2), Author: Patrick Ness review

Currently reading Salvation Station It’s intriguing so far.  This Blessed Mess: Finding Hope Amidst …  Back into my morning devotionals and this one is perfect for the time we’re living in.

Currently listening Title: Evvie Drake Starts Over, Author: Linda Holmes Fun!

Read to Gage Who Was Galileo? Jason and Gage love to talk about space, so I think Gage knew more about Galileo going into this book than I did!

On the TV We breezed through Bosch season 5 on Amazon Prime.   We started the second season of Hanna on Prime and watched a few more episodes of Dead To Me season 1 on Netflix

Movies watched Ready Player One (film).png I never got around to reading the book but we liked the movie.

June Movies post

Plans for the weekend  Our good friends finally have their pool ready and we’re probably going to go since it’s big and everyone can stay socially distanced and still have fun.

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Title: Such a Fun Age, Author: Kiley Reid Such a Fun Age.  Finished 5-23-20, 3.5/5 stars, fiction, pub. 2019

Unabridged audio

In the midst of a family crisis one late evening, white blogger Alix Chamberlain calls her African American babysitter, Emira, asking her to take toddler Briar to the local market for distraction. There, the security guard accuses Emira of kidnapping Briar, and Alix’s efforts to right the situation turn out to be good intentions selfishly mismanaged.  fromGoodreads

This story had a great start.  Emira, at a club celebrating a friend’s birthday, is called to help the family who she babysits for several times a week.  She takes Briar to the local grocery store to kill time while the police are at the Chamberlain home.  Emira and her friend are dressed for the club and not the posh grocery store and things turn ugly when another customer and the security guard accuse Emira of stealing the child.  A cute guy tapes the whole thing on his phone and the police and Mr. Chamberlain are called.  This scenario is full of possibilities.  

What happens next is a lot of coincidence.  I mean more than makes any sense.  Kelly, the guy who tapes the scene, finds Emira again on the subway and they start dating.  Alix feels so much guilt over getting Emira into that situation that she becomes fixated on her, determined to show how un-racist she really is.  I don’t really want to say more so as not to spoil any big reveals.

We read this for my book club and it led to a great Zoom discussion.  What was the consensus?  Alix was a terrible mother and person.  Emira seemed a little lost.  Most of the ladies didn’t understand the issues with Kelly, but I got it.  Most felt the like ending was incomplete, but for me it seemed perfectly fitting for Emira.  What I took away from this novel is that the issues that Alix and Kelly made about race were often not seen the same way by Emira, there was a lot of projecting of their take on the other person, but Emira didn’t have an issue with either of them (at least for most of the book).   It’s a great discussion book, but I didn’t love it.