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 😁

Top Ten Tuesday – Nature Lovers

I decided to try a Top 10 post today because I’ve had about 10 minutes to myself today so why not use valuable time doing fun things that don’t really need doing. Anyone else? 😉

This week’s theme is nature, so I pulled 10 books from my to-be-read piles and here they are. The Undocumented Americans is my book of the day so if you want my thoughts you can see them on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/stacybuckeye/). All the rest are waiting to be read. Which one would you read next?

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.

First week in May reads

This first week in May has been a little on the rainy and cool side, but that’s not a bad thing when you want to read 🙂 I finished 6 books since the last update, 2 YA books (1 fiction, 1 non-fiction), 2 kids books (1 fiction, 1 non-fiction), 1 thriller, and 1 historical romance. That brings my number of books read this year to 147. I don’t have time to upload my Instagram pics today, but you can always follow me there to see them daily https://www.instagram.com/stacybuckeye/

The books in the order I liked them best… Have you read any of these?

Find Her by Lisa Gardner
Find Her by Lisa Gardner (#8 in the Detective DD Warren series)

Although this is book 8 in the Detective D.D. Warren series it can be read as a standalone. Really! I haven’t read any of this series and totally got hooked right away in this thriller.

Flora spent 472 days kidnapped. She got away, but has never been the same. When we meet her in the first chapter she is trolling for men who kidnap young women. But in the 5 years she’s been freed she has turned herself into a machine of resourcefulness and the men pay dearly. This time though, she goes too far and draws the attention of a police detective and someone far more dangerous.

I loved how my feelings for Flora changed from one page to the next. She was a complex and fascinating character Her story is what carried the book so I don’t know if I’d read more of the series, but I really liked this one.

Runaway Train by Lee Matthew Goldberg
Runaway Train by Lee Matthew Goldberg

Runaway Train by Lee Matthew Goldberg is the story of Nico, a girl hitting rock bottom after her sister dies. It’s the 1990s and her love for Kurt Cobain and grunge music taps into her heartbreak. As she spirals out of control she decides to run away from her distant and divorcing parents and even her druggie best friends. She comes up with a bucket list and hits the road with her dad’s gas card.

Aside from the back of the book calling the 90s a bygone era this was well done 😉 . Nico was not always easy to like, but as one adventure led to another, I got caught up in her pain and wanted to see her well. She’s a teen lashing out, trying to wash away her loneliness with drugs, drinks, and dudes, and it was the wholesomeness of the 90s that saved her from darker experiences  Music was really a main character here, each chapter titled by a different song.

The ending was satisfying, with some spots being realistically heartbreaking still. There’s already a sequel in the works and I’m looking forward to seeing what Nico’s future holds.

I was on the TLC Book Tour for this one.

Who Was Jim Henson? by Joan Holub
Who Was Jim Henson? by Joan Holub

Gage and I love the Who? What? Where? series. We have a lot of unread ones in our library, but I requested Jim Henson because he grew up in Mississippi and that was last week’s state. And then I discovered Gage didn’t know the Muppets! How is this possible?! So as we read a chapter a day before finishing it yesterday we also spent some time watching old Muppets episodes.

Also, I found a puppeteering class on Outschool last week so he did that too and it was a lot of fun for him to see the process from a professional.

I always associate Henson with the Muppet Show I watched as a kid. I was happy to learn about his Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock experiences too. I love how he managed to make the Muppets stars even before they got their own show. And, his death at a young 53 was made even more sad by the genuine affection all who knew him had for him and for the joy his life’s work brought to the world.

“Please watch out for each other and love and forgive everybody. It’s a good life, enjoy it.”

The Truths We Hold by Kamala Harris
The Truths We Hold by Kamala Harris, young readers edition

I don’t like reading political books written by people trying to get elected. I chose the YA version thinking I would get a better feel for the woman who made history, in a quicker more succinct way. I did. I wanted to read about a historical figure while we’re actually still witnessing it. I wouldn’t consider myself a Kamala fan, but…

I’ve always respected the determination and smarts of women who get to the top of their field. They are always held to a different standard than men, whichever side of the political aisle you’re on. Add to that having mixed heritage, Jamaican and Indian in Kamala’s case, and the standards continue to shift.

As for the book, I liked it. It told of her background, her love for her mother so present throughout the book. She talked about her career (District Attorney, Attorney General, US Senator) and the campaigns of each. She used those experiences to talk about her ideals, essentially laying out what she stands for and how she sees the country. I’m sure this would be inspiring to teens.

I learned a little more about our current VP and am happy I read it but I didn’t love the book. Maybe I should have read the adult version or maybe I should’ve have waited for her memoir. Nothing in the book surprised me, I already knew she was tough and accomplished, but it was fun to hear her talk about her husband’s proposal, and as a concerned citizen, it was nice to read about Senators reaching across party lines (on both sides).

Savage Intrigue by Cassie Edwards
Savage Intrigue by Cassie Edwards

A historical romance about the Dakota tribe of MinnesotaWisconsin in the mid 1800s. I liked learning about the traditions of the Dakota at the time, but was less enthused with the love story. It’s part of a whole series. I think I’d like to try a Native American romance written by a Native American. Do you have one you can recommend?

The Case of the Secret Message by Parker C. Hinter
The Case of the Secret Message by Parker Hinter, Clue Jr. series #1

These were past my childhood years so I’d never read them, but I do LOVE the game of Clue. The Clue Club consists of 6 fourth graders (Mustard, Scarlet, Plum, White, Green, and Peacock) and they are mystery lovers. There are 8 mini mysteries each with one clue filled illustration to solve. We got them all but two 😂. Those fourth graders are super smart!

It was a fun, short book (84 pages) to read together and we have two more! Did you read these when you were younger? Or maybe your kids?

Runaway Train by Lee Matthew Goldberg

• Publisher: Wise Wolf Books (April 26, 2021)
• Paperback: 294 pages
They told me I was an out-of-control train about to crash…
Everything changed when the police officer knocked on the door to tell me – a 16-year-old – that my older sister Kristen had died of a brain aneurysm. Cue the start of my parents neglecting me and my whole life spiraling out of control.
I decided now was the perfect time to skip town. It’s the early 90’s, Kurt Cobain runs the grunge music scene and I just experienced some serious trauma. What’s a girl supposed to do? I didn’t want to end up like Kristen, so I grabbed my bucket list, turned up my mixtape of the greatest 90’s hits and fled L.A.. The goal was to end up at Kurt Cobain’s house in Seattle, but I never could have guessed what would happen along the way.
At turns heartbreaking, inspiring, and laugh out loud funny, Runaway Train is a wild journey of a bygone era and a portrait of a one-of-a-kind teenage girl trying to find herself again the only way she knows how.

Runaway Train by Lee Matthew Goldberg is the story of Nico, a girl hitting rock bottom after her sister dies. It’s the 1990s and her love for Kurt Cobain and grunge music taps into her heartbreak. As she spirals out of control she decides to run away from her distant and divorcing parents and even her druggie best friends. She comes up with a bucket list and hits the road with her dad’s gas card.

Aside from the back of the book calling the 90s a bygone era 😆this was well done. Nico was not always easy to like, but as one adventure led to another, I got caught up in her pain and wanted to see her well. She’s a teen lashing out, trying to wash away her loneliness with drugs, drinks, and dudes, and it was the wholesomeness of the 90s that saved her from darker experiences 🙂 Music was really a main character here, each chapter titled by a different song.

The ending was satisfying, with some spots being realistically heartbreaking still. There’s already a sequel in the works and I’m looking forward to seeing what Nico’s future holds.

This is a must read for grunge lovers, teens, and anyone with memories of that bygone era, the 90s.

Thanks for having me TLC Book Tours and for a copy of the book!

This Week – An actual event

Highlight of the week… We went to an actual live event as a family. We’ve been so careful, especially with Gage, but spring and sunshine are here and outdoor fun is a must. A local charity that gets books in the hands of local kids celebrated their 5th birthday with a parking lot party with a magician, a DJ, a balloon twister (notice the sword and scabbardish belt), food, a book and swag to each kid, and, of course, a chance for the adults to spend some money on things. I brought home a mystery book date…
“Beautifully Ambiguous. Tragedy & Comedy” If you want to guess what it is, I’ll let you know if you’re right 🙂 It was nice to be doing something normal and while we don’t wear masks outside normally, the fact that they required masks made me feel safer in going there.

The rest of the week was your normal end-of-school year stuff. As a homeschooler, Gage needs to take a standardized test OR have a certified teacher sign off on his progress for the year and write a letter. We chose the teacher route. I’ve got 90% of what she wants to see in, but need to decide on the last things. All I really want to do is send her a box in the mail of what he’s done this year and tell her to look through it until she finds what she needs 🙂 Unfortunately, that’s not the way it works. We have decided to do one more year of homeschooling though. It has pros and cons, but in these crazy times, it’s so nice to have more control (and to be honest, I’m loving this time together). And he can still join in the district’s extracurriculars, like chess club, so that’s a big plus.

Currently reading…

Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 …
Runaway Train (Runaway Train, #1)The Truths We Hold: An American Journey…Savage Intrigue (Savage, #29)

If you want to see what I finished or my favorites for April, click on the links.

On the TV…

We finished the Netflix series Ginny and Georgia and started and old season of the British Bake-off series and Amazon’s Counterpart. I’m a fan of all three 🙂

My thoughts on April’s movies are here. Please add your two cents. It’s been a quiet month for my movie watchers.

Plans for the rest of the weekend… Remember when we gutted half of our house three years ago? We’re finally putting in the last of the flooring, lol, so we’ve got prep work to finish.

April Wrap Up & May Intentions

I read 39 books in April, the most of them picture books, 8 fiction and 5 non-fiction. With 3 more kids non-fiction, that means my total ‘adult’ reading was 23 books with my top three genres being mystery/thriller and fiction with 5 each, and non-fiction with 4. The rest of the categories were inspirational, plays, historical fiction, and poetry. I also watched 1 bookish movie, Fences (I read the play in January).

In my quest to finish a book a day this year, by the end of April I’d finished 140 books and 3 bookish movies in 120 days. Obviously, I’m thrilled that this has been doable. It felt like such a huge goal at the beginning of the year and at this point it feels like a way of life 🙂 Picture books have been such a fun surprise for me. The more we read for homeschool the more I fall in love with them. Go check out a stack of kids books from your library and (I recommend putting everything by Virginia Hamilton on hold that they have) and spend a day being a kid again. I read 5 of her black folktale picture books this month and they were entertaining and educational.

My 5 Favorites in April

Win by Harlan Coben
Because I pretty much love everything he writes. This was the first in a series about Win, who we know from the Myron Bolitar series. It’s a fast, witty read that was hard to put down. More here.
The Push by Ashley Audrain
This was our book club pick this month and I loved it. So many triggers to turn people away, but if you love dark and twisty and are willing to feel uncomfortable this is a great debut thriller about motherhood. More here.
Leaving Coy's Hill by Katherine A. Sherbrooke
I loved this historical fiction about Lucy Stone the 1800’s fighter for African-American and women’s rights. A great look at the trailblazers of the time told with heart. More here.
What Unites Us by Dan Rather
A series of essays about America and the values its citizens share. An uplifting book for divided times. More here.
The Wisdom of Sundays by Oprah Winfrey
I used this book of quotes from Oprah’s interviews for my morning reading for the month and always felt a little more centered and ready to tackle the day. Would make a great gift 🙂 More here.

At the beginning of every month I compile a stack of books for the month. I don’t always stick to it (in April I read 20 of the 30 – not bad), but I feel better with a smaller stack to choose from on a daily basis. It also makes me add some healthy reading, not just all fluff. This month I put them on my new office rug. I got it from Etsy and it makes me happy 🙂