2021 Favorite Movies and Stats

I’m not going to lie, this wasn’t the best movie year for us. We didn’t get to the movie theater (although we did get to the drive-in for a double feature) and our choices were more of ‘what’s on Netflix that we can agree on in 5 minutes?’ than intentional viewing. We did binge lots of shows, but I wasn’t great about keeping track of those. Maybe next year.

49 movies (same as last year)

2021 was our most watched year with 12 movies, followed by 2020 with 8.

Gigi (1958) was the oldest movie we watched.

We watched the most movies in the month of May with 8.

I wrote 4 Book vs Movie posts (The Sun is Also a Star, Good Morning Midnight/The Midnight Sun, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Perfume)

The actress I saw the most was Awkwafina in 3 movies (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Jumanji: The Next Level, Crazy Rich Asians)

The two actors I saw the most of at 3 movies a piece were Mathias Schoenarts (A Little Chaos, Red Sparrow, Our Souls at Night) and Jack Black (Goosebumps, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Jumanji: The Next Level)

My Favorite Movies

BlackkKlansman, 2018
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Mudbound, 2017
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A Little Chaos, 2014
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Crazy Rich Asians, 2018

What was your favorite movie of the year?

December Movies

We also watched Wheel of Time season 1 (loved) The Witcher season 2 (liked), and the BBC’s The Pale Horse starring Rufus Sewell (skip it!). Have you been binging any shows this month?

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. Click here to see past movie posts.

We’re at $81 right now.  Your charity could be next 

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Destination Wedding, 2018 (Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder) Grade B

Two of my longtime faves.

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Don’t Look Up, 2021 (Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Rob Morgan, Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, Mark Rylance, Cate Blanchett, Tyler Perry, Timothee Chalamet, Ariana Grande, Ron Perlman, Himesh Patel, Melanie Lynskey) Grade B

Smartly satirical but too long!

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A Castle For Christmas, 2021 (Brooke Shields, Carey Elwes) Grade B

Hallmark movie with 80s icons.

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Scrooged, 1988 (Bill Murray, Karen Allen, John Forsythe, Bobcat Goldthwait, Carol Kane, Robert Mitchum, Alfre Woodard) Grade B

Fun Christmasy 80’s throwback.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins, 2011 (Jim Carrey, Carla Gugino, Angela Lansbury) Grade B-

Utterly ridiculous, entertaining family movie.

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The 5th Wave, 2016 (Chloe Grace Moretz, Ron Livingston, Liev Schreiber, Nick Robinson, Alex Roe, Maggie Siff, Maria Bello, Maika Monroe, Zackary Arthur) Grade C+

Still waiting for the ending!

2021 Top Ten Book Favorites and Stats

My book a day challenge officially ends tomorrow since I started last year on the 31st. I’ll be including the two books I’m reading today and tomorrow in these stats 🙂 I honestly cannot believe I completed this challenge. It seemed crazy at the beginning of the year, but thanks to my new love of non-fiction kids picture books I was able to get through the more challenging days! On to the numbers…

I read 415 books.

73 books published in 2021 and 40 published in 2020.

The oldest book I read was Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie published in 1934.

249 were fiction and 166 were non-fiction. (this non-fiction is highly unusual for me and due, in part, to the 99 kids non-fiction books I read this year)

280 were written by authors new to me.

Favorite Cover

I visited France 25 times and the UK 17 times through my reading. I also read books set in 16 other countries.

I continued with 11 series ( Jack Reacher, Lady Sherlock, Kinsey Milhone, Dublin Murder Squad, Mrs. Pollifax, Inspector Rebus, Hathaways, Lucas Davenport, Amos Decker, In Death, Ravenels),

started 6 others (Fiona Figg, Runaway Train, Brigertons, Hugo Marston, Jeremy Logan, Seven Sisters)

and read 1 series from beginning to end (Lucy Valentine series by Heather Webber books 1-5).

The longest book I read was The President is Missing by James Patterson and Bill Clinton at 528 pages.

Most read authors – adults – Lee Child with 8, kids – Virginia Hamilton with 5, and illustrator Jerry Pinkney with 8.

I already posted the longlist of my favorite kids books here and my favorite adult books here, but…

Top Ten Books I Read in 2021

Dictionary for a Better World: Poems, Quotes, and Anecdotes from A to Z
Dictionary For a Better World: Poems, Quotes, Anecdotes From A to Z by Irene Latham, Charles Waters, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini.

I love this book so much! Gage and I read one letter every day, some letters have a few words, some only one. There’s a poem, an explanation of what type of poem it is, a quote, a paragraph about the word written by Charles or Irene, and then an action.

This was the beautiful way we’ve started our learning everyday. We read, we discussed, and used the poems as cursive practice. The book and pages are gorgeous and I’ve already ordered our own copy, since this was a library book. We finished up with Zest and pages of further reading recommendations which I plan on using! This the second collaboration between these authors and I definitely need to get their first book.

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Infinite Hope: A Black Artist’s Journey From World War II to Peace by Ashley Bryan

Do yourself a favor and get your hands on this book! It’s a wonderful first hand account of his time in the war with a little of his life before and after. Scroll through the pics. Each the drawings were sketches he made during his days in the military. He would send the hundreds of sketches home when he could and just brought them out for public consumption a few years ago. In addition to the sketches, photos, and commentary, he’s included some of the letters he sent home.

He was there on Omaha Beach working as a stevedore to get cargo from ship to Allied forces. His home was a foxhole he dug himself on the beach.

It’s a story of war, hope, prejudice, and perseverance. If your child needs a firsthand account of someone in WWII or of racial inequality in the war this is a must read. It’s laid out so beautifully it’s sure to hold their attention. And, as an adult, I fell in love with it myself.

The Push
The Push by Ashley Audrain

The Push was our book club choice for April and it generated some very strong feelings. Personally, disturbing as it was, this was a great book. It’s a complicated story about motherhood, all of the ugly parts no one talks about and the absolute highs when you are exactly the mother you thought you’d be.

Blythe comes from generations of bad mothers. The stories of her mother and grandmother are interspersed throughout the novel. Blythe falls in love, gets married and is nervous to start a family of her own. Motherhood comes and I’ll tell you no more.

This debut novel is well written, perfectly paced, and hard to put down. But it’s not an easy read. It’s difficult at times to take in what’s happening and I think a lot of women could be upset by much of what happens. It’s a love or hate book for most and I’m standing on the love side.

The Midnight Library
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

What if every choice you made led to a different life, a different you and it was happening simultaneously to your life right now. What if you were able to visit The Midnight Library and try on each of these lives to see if you preferred them to the one you’re currently living. So goes the story of Nora Seed.

Loved this book. Not only did I love the endless possibilities, I loved the attention to great philosophers, especially Thoreau, who is a favorite of mine. Highly recommend this one for discussion and contemplation. 

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Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby

This book was definitely elevated by the excellent narration by Adam Lazarre-White. His rich voice made the story of two fathers, one white, one black, coming to terms with the deaths of their gay sons come alive. There was more violence and also more soul searching than I anticipated going in. Give this one a listen.

The Last Thing He Told Me
The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

This lived up to ALL of the hype! It’s so different from her other two books. It’s a thriller. One day a child knocks on Hannah’s door with a note, it’s from her husband and all it says is PROTECT HER. Bailey, the daughter, comes home from school with a duffel bag full of cash that her dad had stuffed in her locker. Owen himself was missing.

That’s all you get. If you like thrillers this is a must read! 

Salvage the Bones
Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

This is an unflinching story of poverty, family, and life. Esch is 14 and has just found out she’s pregnant. She’s had sex with lots of her brothers friends because it easier to say yes than to upset them, but she knows who the father is, her oldest brother’s best friend. Another brother, Skeetah, has bred his prized pit bull China so that he could sell the puppies. The youngest brother’s birth cost her mother’s life and left the four of them with a drunk and rough father.

This book takes place in the 12 days leading up to Hurricane Katrina. There is such a richness to the unapologetic language and story. I still feel like a little bit of me is stuck on the coast. There is a brutal dog fighting scene. I had to close the book and sit with my visceral reaction to it. This book takes its time, but at some point it will completely draw you into the Baptiste family and their world.

It’s a National Book Award Winner published in 2011.

The Sun Is Also a Star
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

“Everything happens for a reason. This is a thing people say. My mom says it a lot. “Things happen for a reason, Tasha.” Usually people say it when something goes wrong, but not too wrong. A non fatal car accident. A sprained ankle instead of a broken one.

Tellingly, my mom has not said it in reference to our deportation. What reason could there be for this awful thing happening? My dad, whose fault this whole thing is, says, “You can’t always see God’s plan.” I want to tell him that maybe he shouldn’t leave everything up to God and that hoping against hope is not a life strategy, but that would mean I would have to talk to him, and I don’t want to talk to him.”

What a great way to start the month. I loved the romantic and scientific back and forth on the meaning of life and love. Almost the entire book takes place during one day, the day of deportation and the day Natasha and Daniel meet and fall in love. Jamaica and Korean cultures fill up the pages of this teen American Dream romance.

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood (Persepolis, #1)
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

A graphic memoir by the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors. She tells the story of her childhood during the Islamic Revolution and Iran’s war with Iraq. And then later as she is sent away to live on her own in Vienna at the age of 14.

The black and white illustrations are full of horror, history, and heartwarming and heartbreaking stories. I’m late to the game, but this is a must read. 

The Complete Maus
Maus by Art Spiegelman

Two outstanding graphic books by Art Spieglman (the first winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1992).

It’s the story of the Holocaust based on Spiegelman’s interviews with his survivor father and also of his life with his father as he got older. He, his father, and the other Jewish people are depicted as mice and the Nazis as cats.

So moving, both as a Holocaust history, but also a relationship story between father and son. One I’m not going to forget anytime soon.

You are welcome to check out my end of the year list of books on Goodreads here. You will have to go to the bottom and click on See More Books a few times to see them all.

All Star Books – My 2021 Favorites

Yesterday I posted 35 kid book recommendations from my reading this year here.

Today, I’ll post my favorite recommendations from the rest of my reading.

233 non-kid books so far with 41 that I’d recommend the most. That’s counting the five of one series as one 🙂

Mystery/Thriller – 47

Lucy Valentine series by Heather Webber, 5 books in all

Truly, Madly (Lucy Valentine, #1)
Deeply, Desperately (Lucy Valentine, #2)
Absolutely, Positively (Lucy Valentine, #3)
Perfectly Matched (Lucy Valentine, #4)
Undeniably Yours  (Lucy Valentine, #5)
Faithful Place (Dublin Murder Squad, #3)
Faithful Place by Tana French
Win (Windsor Horne Lockwood III, #1)
Win by Harlan Coben
The Last Flight
The Last Flight by Julie Clark
The Last Thing He Told Me
The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave
Ocean Prey (Lucas Davenport #31)
Ocean Prey by John Sandford
Girls Like Us
Girls Like Us by Christina Alger
Long Bright River
Long Bright River by Liz Moore
Razorblade Tears
Razorblade Tears by S.A Cosby

Fiction- 39

The Midnight Library
Midnight Library by Matt Haig.
The Push
The Push by Ashley Audrain
The Little French Bistro
The Little French Bistro by Nina George
Our Souls at Night
Our Souls at Night by Ken Haruf
A Girl Returned
A Girl Returned by Donatella DiPietrantonio

Historical Fiction – 12

The Only Woman in the Room
The Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benedict
Leaving Coy's Hill
Leaving Coy’s Hill by Katherine Sherbrooke

Romance – 20

The Falconer
The Falconer by Elaine Clark McCarthy
Seduce Me at Sunrise (The Hathaways, #2)
Seduce Me At Sunrise by Lisa Kleypas
Just Last Night
Just Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane

Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror – 12

Good Morning, Midnight
Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton
Kindred by Octavia Butler

Non-Fiction – 33

Good Citizens: Creating Enlightened Society
Good Citizens by Thich Nhat Hanh
On Juneteenth
On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed
Notre Dame: The Soul of France
Notre Dame-The Soul of France by Agnes Poirier
What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism
What Unites Us: Reflections of Patriotism by Dan Rather & Elliot Kirschner
The Wisdom of Sundays: Life-Changing Insights from Super Soul Conversations
The Wisdom of Sundays by Oprah Winfrey

Memoir – 12

A New Kind of Country
A New Kind of Country by Dorothy Gilman
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
My Life in France
My Life in France by Julia Child

Graphic Novels – 20

The Handmaid's Tale: The Graphic Novel
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood adapted by Renee Nault
The Encyclopedia of Early Earth
The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg
Klaus by Grant Morrison and Dan Mora

Graphic Bio/Memoir -17

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood (Persepolis, #1)
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
The Complete Maus
Maus by Art Spiegelman
Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos
Kid Gloves by Lucy Knisley
Monet: Itinerant of Light
Monet: Itinerant of Light by Salva Rubio

Poetry/Plays – 9

Fences (The Century Cycle #6)
Fences by August Wilson
A Raisin in the Sun
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

Young Adult – 12

Salvage the Bones
Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
The Sun Is Also a Star
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

All-Star Kids Books – My 2021 Favorites

This year I’ve read 179 books for kids! Most were not published this year, but that okay.

63 non-fiction picture books

45 fiction picture books

36 non-fiction kids books

35 fiction books

Here are the ones I especially loved and recommend. I do not apologize for the length of this post 🙂

Non-Fiction Picture Books

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Begin with a Bee by Liza Ketchum, Jacqueline Briggs Martin, Phyllis Root, Claudia McGehee
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Creekfinding: A True Story by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Claudia McGehee
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Plants on the Move by Emilie Vast
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Journey: Based on the True Story of OR7, the Most Famous Wolf in the West by Emma Bland Smith and Robin James.
Whale Fall Café
Whale Fall Cafe by Jacquie Sewell and Dan Tavis
Art From Her Heart: Folk Artist Clementine Hunter
Art From Her Heart: Folk Artist Clementine Hunter by Kathy Whitehead and Shane W. Evans
Jean Laffite: The Pirate Who Saved America
Jean Laffitte: The Pirate Who Saved America by Susan Goldman Rubin and Jeff Himmelman
The Last Black King of the Kentucky Derby by Crystal Hubbard and Robert McGuire
Becoming Babe Ruth
Becoming Babe Ruth by Matt Tavares
Dark Was the Night: Blind Willie Johnson's Journey to the Stars
Dark Was the Night: Blind Willie Johnson’s Journey to the Stars by Gary Golio and E.B. Lewis
Feed Your Mind: A Story of August Wilson
Feed Your Mind: A Story of August Wilson by Jen Bryant and Cannaday Chapman
Hey, Charleston!: The True Story of the Jenkins Orphanage Band by Anne Rockwell and Colin Bootman
Twenty-One Steps: Guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Twenty-One Steps: Guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by Jeff Gottesfeld and Matt Tavares
What Miss Mitchell Saw
What Miss Mitchell Saw by Hayley Barrett and Diana Sudyka
A Dream of Flight: Alberto Santos-Dumont's Race Around the Eiffel Tower
A Dream of Flight: Alberto Santos-Dumont’s Race Around the Eiffel Tower by Rob Polivka and Jef Polivka
Read! Read! Read!
Read! Read! Read! by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater and Ryan O’Rourke

Fiction Picture Books

Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o & Vashti Harrison
The Girl Who Spun Gold by Virginia Hamilton and Leo & Diane Dillon
Bruh Rabbit and the Tar Baby Girl
Bruh Rabbit and the Tar Baby Girl by Virginia Hamilton & James Ransome
The Legend of the Bluebonnet
The Legend of the Bluebonnet by Tomie DePaolo
John Henry
John Henry by Julius Lester and Jerry Pinkney
The Talking Eggs: A Folktale from the American South
The Talking Eggs: A Folktale from the American South by Robert D. San Souci & Jerry Pinkney
Ramadan Moon
Ramadan Moon by Na’ima B. Robert and Shirin Adl
A Different Pond
A Different Pond by Bao Phi & Thi Bui
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Milo Imagines the World by Matt de la Puna & Christian Robinson

Non-Fiction Kids Books

Infinite Hope: A Black Artist's Journey from World War II to Peace
Infinite Hope: A Black Artist’s Journey from World War II to Peace by Ashley Bryan
Dictionary for a Better World: Poems, Quotes, and Anecdotes from A to Z
Dictionary for a Better World: Poems, Quotes, and Antecdotes from A to Z by Irene Latham, Charles Waters & Mehrdokht Amini
It Came From Ohio: My Life As A Writer
It Came from Ohio: My Life As a Writer by R.L. Stine
Six Million Paper Clips: The Making of a Children's Holocaust Memorial
Six Million Paper Clips: The Making of a Children’s Holocaust Memorial by Peter and Dagmar Schroeder
We are Explorers: Extraordinary Women Who Discovered the World
We Are Explorers: Extraordinary Women Who Discovered the World by Kari Herbert
Albert Einstein Was a Dope?
Albert Einstein Was a Dope? by Dan Gutman

Fiction Kids Books

The Tale of Desperaux by Kate DiCamillo
The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall
The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall by Mary Downing Hahn
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (Fudge, #1)
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume

Book a Day Challenge Homestretch

As I see the end of my book a day challenge fast approaching I am taking a very laid back approach. Lots of picture books and a movie on Christmas (a movie inspired by a classic kids book that I’m reading today) are helping me wind down a very successful reading year.

I’m going to have 3 book wrap up posts and 2 movies posts this week, so keep an eye out for my favorites this week.

Here’s what I’ve read since my last update…

The Storm Sister (The Seven Sisters #2)
The Storm Sisters by Lucinda Riley. 593 pages, published 2015

 The Storm Sister was book two in the Seven Sisters series that I started a few weeks ago. This one was set in the classical music world and I enjoyed learning about something new. I like the different stories of each of the series and the overriding mystery of them all that will keep me reading this series.

The 13th Gift: A True Story of a Christmas Miracle
The 13th Gift: A True Story of a Christmas Miracle by Joanne Huist Smith. 224 pages, pub. 2014

If you need a quick Christmas listen to get you in the holiday spirit I recommend this audiobook read by the author. The 13th Gift is a true story that will give you all of the Christmasy feels.

After the sudden death of her husband Joanne was having a hard time getting into the spirit of the holidays. Her three kids were still reeling from the loss of their father too when mysterious gifts began appearing on their front porch. With each gift, the family began to heal.

Such an inspiring story. I loved her explanation of what happened and how she finally tracked down her “True Friends” fifteen years later.

I don’t read a lot of holiday stories during December, but I’m so glad I listened to this one!

How to Marry Keanu Reeves in 90 Days
How To Marry Keanu Reeves in 90 Days by K.M. Jackson. 336 pages, pub.2021

I started reading How To Marry Keanu Reeves in 90 Days a few days ago and just wasn’t feeling it, so I switched to the audio yesterday and breezed right through. Lu is a single artist in her 40s who is obsessed with The One and when she reads that he is going to get married in 90 days she knows she needs a plan. Enter True. He was her brother’s best friend before he died and has stayed close to Lu ever since. He knows a guy who can get a one-on-one with Keanu and a plan is hatched.

I ended up liking it, even if I had a hard time understanding Lu. True is a great and a worthy choice if Keanu is unavailable 😁

Do you have a favorite Keanu movie?

The Essential Wisdom of the First Ladies
The Essential Wisdom of the First Ladies edited by Carol Kelly-Gangi. 128 pages, pub. 2020

I spent a few days reading The Essential Wisdom of the First Ladies and really enjoyed it. Swipe through to see the book and 8 pages of included quotes that I particularly liked. It went through Melanie Trump and even had a quote about Jill Biden from Michelle Obama so it feels up to date. This would make a great gift!

What Miss Mitchell Saw
What Miss Mitchell Saw by Hayley Barrett. 40 pages, pub. 2019

Loved the story of a woman outdiscovering a man when it just wasn’t done and the illustrations were fantastic. Loved it!

The Don't Worry Book
The Don’t Worry Book by Todd Parr. 32 pages, pub. 2019

I love Todd Parr’s books and have rea so many with Gage. This is perfect for any kid overwhelmed by the last few years.

Bad Kitty Goes on Vacation

Bad Kitty Goes on Vacation by Nick Bruel. 160 pages, pub. 2020

This one wasn’t my favorite mainly because it was mostly about Uncle Murray, but it was a cute addition to the graphic series for kids and Gage always likes Bad Kitty.

I’ve also read…

Malala Yousafzai: Champion for Education (Rookie Biographies) (Library Edition)
Scholastic Discover More Reader Level 3: Where in the World?
Mr. Popper's Penguins
The Midnight Line (Jack Reacher, #22)
We watched Mr. Popper’s Penguins with Jim Carrey as a family on Christmas. It was weird and cute.

I will be editing this post the next four days by adding the books I finish this year.

Where has December gone?

Yikes! It’s the 18th and I haven’t posted any of my book a day reads this month! So, forgive me for this catch up post with lots of random books 🙂 I’m limping along with lots of kids books, but I will make it. What are you reading to finish up the year? For me it’s the shorter the better right now!

The Road Trip
The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary. 414 pages, pub. 2021

This story takes place on a road trip gone awry. Told from his and her perspectives and then and now time periods, this was a story that entertained. The last third of the book had a few revelations that moved the story in different directions all the while satisfying this romantic’s heart in the end.

I thought the audio was excellent.

The Haunted House Next Door (Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol, #1)
Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol: The Haunted House Next Door by Andres Miedoso. 128 pages, pub. 2017

Gage read me the first in the Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol series on Thursday. We’d read a later one in the series and liked it and Gage’s writing tutor gave him the first four for his birthday. The books are written by Andres, Desmond’s anxious friend. Desmond loves ghost hunting and Andres loves having a new best friend in his new town. A fun series with great illustrations for the older elementary set.

Albert Einstein Was a Dope?
Albert Einstein Was A Dope by Dan Gutman. 112 pages, pub. 2021

This is a new series by Dan Gutman about famous figures. I read the Muhammad Ali one earlier this year. Gage and I both loved this one. He loves random and interesting trivia and this fits the bill. It was told with humor that kept him entertained all the way through. And we both learned what happened to Einstein’s brain and eyeballs after his death. Gross! 

The People Awards
The People Awards by Lily Murray. 80 pages, pub. 2018

We’ve been reading The People’s Award book to start our school day for about two months. It says right on the cover ‘Celebrate Equality with 50 People Who Changed the World’ and I appreciated the mix of people from around the world, both familiar and unknown to me. Each award winner ranging from Confucius to Pele had a fun two page spread. It also had a quote from each one which was a good reason for Gage to practice his cursive.

Notes on Teaching: A Short Guide to an Essential Skill
Notes on Teaching by Shellee Hendricks. 176 pages, pub. 2011

Notes on Teaching: A Short Guide to an Essential Skill was a quick read. It took me back to my college days and my English Education classes. Even as a homeschooling mom it still touched on many things that have already made a difference in our day and will continue to do so. It’s always nice to have a pep talk and a reminder of what’s important.

Alaskan Holiday
Alaskan Holiday by Debbie Macomber. 256 pages, pub. 2018

Have you ever been listening to a book and the narration is just so bad that you wonder if it’s a problem with the narrator or the book? Such was the case with this short winter romance. There were two narrators but one came up with voices for some of the characters that were so off-putting I think it must have been intentional.

A young woman goes to Alaska to work for the summer, receives a marriage proposal, goes back to Washington for a great job anyway only to discover dream job is a bust. Will there be a happy ending?

If considering, pick up the book and skip the ear buds.

The Seven Sisters (The Seven Sisters, #1)
The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley (book 1 of the Seven Sisters series). 460 pages, pub. 2014

I listened to The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley thanks to a recommendation from my friend Amy and what a good recommendation it was! This is the first in a series of eight books about six adopted sisters who are given hints about their births after their father has died. In this first book the oldest, Maia, travels from Lake Geneva to Rio de Janeiro in hopes of finding her roots. What she finds is a long lost love affair and ties to the famous Christ the Redeemer statue.

Perfect for historical fiction and romance fans. I look forward to learning more about the other sisters and the mystery that binds them. Great audio.

Well Matched (Well Met, #3)
Well Matched by Jen Deluca. 336 pages, pub. 2021

I read/listened to Well Matched, part of a series that’s set in the small town of Willow Creek. I haven’t read the first two but would consider this a stand alone. Single-mother April is about to become an empty nester and gym teacher Mitch is looking for a fake date to a family gathering. I loved easy going Mitch and outspoken and homebody April. Having it set around the local Renaissance Fair was fun and having family and friends invested in their relationship solidified the story. A cute read for this time of year.

Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents
Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents by Pete Souza. 240 pages, pub. 2018

Pete Souza was the official White House photographer for both Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama and was self admittedly bitter after the 2016 election. He started his own IG account and began to react to Trump’s tweets with photos of Obama to directly respond. Throwing shade was a term he learned for what he was doing and these posts, with Trump’s tweets from the first two years are what make up this book. I wanted to like it more and there were serious comparisons and more humorous ones, but after 4+ years of hate (tweets) and snark I just couldn’t generate any excitement for it. But, hey, it was free!

Royal Holiday (The Wedding Date, #4)
Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory. 320 pages, pub. 2020

The Royal Holiday introduced me to a new author AND a middle age romance! It was nice to have a heroine in her 50s and I enjoyed the American going across the pond to fall in love with an advisor to the queen. Can they make it work past her holiday? Keep calm and believe.

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown
The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. 137 pages, pub. 2010

The Gifts of Imperfection is about living a wholehearted life. Wholehearted living is based on the process of continually cultivating courage, compassion, and connection in our lives. There are 10 main guideposts, including authenticity, resilient spirit, and intuition that she addresses. This book is based on her research and I loved how she shared it, but it was still just a bit too self-helpy for me to love. I did take away a lot of positive energy and am happy I read it.

Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots
Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots by Michael Rex. 32 pages, pub. 2020

Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots by Michael Rex should be required reading for adults and children, but really it’s a quick, fun book for kids. The definitions were spot on. Just because someone says something you agree with doesn’t make it a fact. It also addressed the need to wait for more information before making firm opinions.

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Plants on the Move by Emilie Vast. 56 pages, pub. 2021

Plants on the Move is detailed and visually pleasing. It breaks down the many different ways that seeds from plants and trees reproduce and what trees or flowers do each one. Must have for your young plant lovers.

Twenty-One Steps: Guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Twenty-One Steps by Jeff Gottesfeld. 32 pages, pub. 2021

Twenty-One Steps: Guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a beautifully illustrated book told in first person by the first unknown soldier buried at Arlington National Cemetery 100 years ago.

The Journey That Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H.A. Rey
The Journey That Saved Curious George by Louise Borden. 80 pages, pub. 2005

A well put together kids biography of the creators of Curious George, who may have started with a much more French name than George. Margret and Hans were both from Germany, but didn’t meet and marry until they were both in Brazil where they became Brazilian citizens. They moved back to Paris just in time for the Germans invading the city with the couple barely escaping on homemade bicycles with drawings of a curious monkey in the bike basket.

They managed to escape and make their way to New York, hence my New Yorker magazine cover. The story the pictures and the whimsical drawings make this one I’m happy to have on my shelf to share with Gage.

A Day for Rememberin': The First Memorial Day
A Day For Rememberin’ by Leah Henderson. 40 pages, pub. 2020

A Day for Rememberin’: Inspired by the True Events of the First Memorial Day is a beautifully illustrated book about the freed men, women, and children in Charleston who paid homage to the dead Union soldiers who gave their lives so that slaves would be slaves no more.

Tigers & Tea With Toppy
Tigers & Tea With Poppy by Barbara Kerley. 48 pages, pub. 2018

Tigers & Tea with Poppy is about the inspiring life of wildlife artist Charles R. Knight.

I also read these kids books and one for a book tour

Trees by Carme Lemniscates
Animals by Kathy ThornboroughMy Religion, Your Religion by Lisa BullardWe Are Better Together by Ann BonwillThe Science Behind Batman's Uniform by Agnieszka BiskupHow Has Covid-19 Changed Our World? by Kara L. LaughlinFauci by Anthony Fauci(review here)

TLC Book Tour – Fauci: Expect the Unexpected Edited by National Geographic

Fauci: Expect the Unexpected edited by National Geographic, 96 pages, pub. 2021

Compiled from hours of interviews drawn from the eponymous National Geographic documentary, this inspiring book from world-renowned infectious disease specialist Anthony Fauci shares the lessons that have shaped the celebrated doctor’s life philosophy, offering an intimate view of one of the world’s greatest medical minds as well as universal advice to live by. (Goodreads)

Is it even possible to have a reasonable discussion about Dr. Fauci? The man has worked for 7 presidents and has kind words to say about them all (yes, ALL of them). He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush. And yet today he’s become some kind of litmus test. The man has become a target of conspiracy from the Right and become the symbol of science for the Left. The truth rarely resides on one side.

If you like Dr. Fauci, this 96 page book is a companion to the National Geographic documentary. It’s full of inspirational quotes about being a doctor and work as a public servant. It has short stories of his early years as a doctor and a few sweet stories about his family. It’s not a memoir, but inspirational snippets from his life as a doctor.

If you think Dr. Fauci is a fraud, this is obviously not for you and won’t change your opinion.

I think it would make a nice gift to someone interested in medicine. I liked his memories of treating AIDS patients before they even knew what AIDS was and his experience with Ebola patients. He talked a little about Covid and Trump toward the end and I thought he was more diplomatic than I could have been, but the man has testified before Congress more than any other person in history so he’s had practice.

The beginning of the book states…Dr. Fauci was not paid for his participation and will not earn any royalties from this book’s publication or from the documentary.

Thank you TLC Book Tours for having me on the book tour and sending me the book in exchange for my honest review.

November Favorites

I didn’t get my last few books of November on here, so I’ll post them after sharing my 5 (technically 6) favorites of November. I focused on graphic novels/memoirs and am so glad that I read more outside my comfort zone this month. So far this year Goodreads tells me I’ve read 380 books this year. I don’t even know how to feel about this number because it is so ridiculous, lol. I’m working on breaking them down into categories and talking about them that way this month.

My November Favorites

❤️ The Handmaid’s Tale : The Graphic Novel. Adaptation by Renee Nault.

❤️ The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg.

❤️ The 1619 Project: Born on the Water by Nikole Hannah-Jones, Renee Watson, & Nikkolas Smith.

❤️ Maus I & II by Art Spiegelman.

❤️ The Good Kings: Absolute Power in Ancient Egypt and the Modern World by Kara Cooney.

Have you read any of these?

I also read

Born on the Water (link above) – The 1619 Project: Born on the Water is a beautiful book that shows a young girl how resilient and strong her ancestors were. Told in a flowing verse, it chronicles the story of the Africans stolen from their land and brought to Virginia in 1619. I loved the illustrations and the scope of information for younger kids. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

The Jungle, graphic novel by Kristina Gehrmann. Let me recommend the graphic novel of the classic The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. If you read The Four Winds this year that showcased the need for unions in the 1930s west, this is a fantastic companion that shows this same need during the same period in the immigrant heavy Chicago. A terribly sad story based on an interview that will keep you riveted. Loved it!

The Wanderer by Peter van den Ende has no words. Not one word in 96 beautifully illustrated pages. The Wanderer is the story of a paper boat and his journey around the world. Gage and I sat down for our daily together reading time and took turns putting words to the pages and crafting our own story. It was so much fun and I highly recommend it for those of you with kids. There’s even a neat twist at the end that will be open to more than one interpretation.

Drawn Together: Uplifting Comics on the Curious Journey Through Life was fun for a few minutes, but was so short that it felt.. incomplete? Based on the popular Dharma Comics online it was a collection of comics on grief, love, and self-care. As good as some of the individual pages were it lacked the heft it needed to fill the book, IMO.