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?