January’s Movies & Money for Charity

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 

Shows I binged this month…Emily in Paris, season 2 – Love that show! Stay Close – One of the better Harlan Coben adaptations. Discovery of Witches, season 1 – I’m hooked! Archive 81 – it had its moments.

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First Man, 2018 (Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Corey Stoll, Christopher Abbott, Ciaran Hinds) Grade B+

Armstrong getting to the moon.

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Unforgiveable, 2021 (Sandra Bullock, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jon Bernthal, Richard Thomas, Linda Emond, Ashley Franciosi, Rob Morgan, Viola Davis) Grade B

Search for life after prison.

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Red Notice, 2021 (Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot) Grade B

Appealing actors + silly entertainment = fun.

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Love Wedding Repeat, 2020 (Same Claflin, Olivia Munn, Eleanor Tomlinson, Joel Fry, Tim Key, Aisling Bea, Freida Pinto) Grade B-

It was a cool idea.

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Jingle All the Way, 1996 (Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sinbad, Phil Hartman, Rita Wilson, Robert Conrad, Jake Lloyd, Jim Belushi) Grade C+

Cute family throwback Christmas flick.

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Intrusion, 2020 (Freida Pinto, Logan Marshall-Green) Grade C-

Scary concept, made little sense.

So, anything we need to see in February? We need something good!

This Week – Puzzling Along

Fave pic – Yesterday was National Puzzle Day and we started this Jane Austen puzzle. When finished we’ll be able to find 60 Austen characters. It’s a fun one for Austen fans.

Highlights of the Week – Rafael Nadal won the Australian Open. Love watching Rafa play! The rest of this week is not worth talking about. Let’s just say that I’m happy a new week is before me.

Could’ve been better – Most of it.

Currently reading

Just Haven't Met You Yet
Charlotte's WebThe Duchess Countess: The Woman Who Sca…Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teach…

Posts this week The Siren of Sussex by Mimi Matthews (loved it!)

Darkness Rising Trilogy by Kelley Armstrong (loved it!)

Kids Picture Books

Books read this year – 40

On TV – We finished Archive 81 on Netflix and are 4 episodes into season 4 of Ozark.

A few weeks ago I mentioned my love for the Netflix show Emily in Paris. I LOVED this on SNL last night! Must watch for Emily fans.

Puzzles finished

This was a puzzle from Completing the Puzzle, my puzzle subscription. They send a puzzle, we do it, send it back and they send us another one. I choose the number of pieces and there’s even a wish list of puzzles I can choose from. I went through the selection several months ago and chose 40 or so puzzles so now I can wait and still be surprised when the next one comes. The surprise is my favorite part!
This one paired nicely with BOSH! How to Live Vegan that I finished this week. I think Gage put in the majority of pieces in this 500 piecer.

Plans for the weekend – Keep my nose to the grindstone planning-wise and hope this week brings some sunshine. What’s up with you?

Linking up with Deb over at The Sunday Salon.

Kids Picture Books and a Fun Chapter Book Series

Nicky & Vera: A Quiet Hero of the Holocaust and the Children He Rescued.by Peter Sis has been nominated for numerous 2021 best book awards. All awards are well-deserved.

PBS did a short story on the author and the making of the book and I highly recommend watching it online. Gage and I watched it and even if some of it went over his head it let us start from a meaningful place before we even opened the book.

In 1938 Nicholas Winton was supposed to go on a ski vacation, but instead went to Prague, where the people were scared of a Nazi invasion. He set up shop and managed to evacuate 669 children to England. Once the war started he became an ambulance driver for the war effort and never told anyone about the children. Only after his wife found his notes tucked away in the attic many years later did the world find out what he’d done.

This book is fantastic, but be prepared if reading with younger kids that when Vera went home after the war her parents and cousins had died in concentration camps.

This month we’ve been spending a few minutes in the morning talking about whatever national day it is, National Learn Your Name in Morse Code Day, National Popcorn Day, National Thesaurus Day…and when I can I get a related picture book, like these!

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus is a great book. The illustrations are fabulous and the story of how Roget wrote the original thesaurus. A fun book for list makers like me!

Samuel Morse That’s Who was great too, but not quite as beautiful and Pop, Pop, Popcorn was a fun, easy book explaining corn from when it gets planted all the way to when you eat a piece of popcorn.
Gage’s weekend homework this year has been reading me books from the Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol series. These are 3-5. I admit that I’m looking forward to #6 this weekend 👻

This fun series is told is first person by Andres, the newish kid in Kersville, who is afraid of many, many things. His next door neighbor turned best friend, Desmond, loves all things otherworldly. I love the relationship between these two elementary aged boys.

The mysteries are cute and the illustrations are fantastic. Perfect for early chapter book reading. Always 10 chapters, 122 pages with pictures on every page. Prepare to be spooked 💀

Darkness Rising trilogy by Kelley Armstrong

The Gathering, The Calling, The Rising by Kelley Armstrong

So, I needed an audio book for puzzling and decided to check my Goodreads list of over 1800 ‘want to read’ titles 😂. I looked at the oldest page of the list and found Kelley Armstrong’s The Gathering, the first of a YA supernatural trilogy that I added to my wish list in 2012. Yep, 10 years ago. I started listening last Wednesday, then listened to the next one, and then read 406 pages of The Rising over the last two days. So, I finished the trilogy in less than a week. Take that for the recommendation it is. If you like skin walkers and other supernatural creatures that would be a bonus.

Maya just turned 16 and lives in a small community nearish Vancouver. She has friends and is popular. But she’s about to have her world come crashing down when she finds out that she is special and so are her friends thanks to the gene testing by the cabal that runs their whole lives. There’s danger, friendship, love, death, and decisions no one should have to make.

I was looking for something completely different than my usual read and this trilogy fit the bill nicely. I’ll have to check out more of Armstrong’s books.

What’s your favorite Armstrong book or trilogy?

The Siren of Sussex by Mimi Matthews

The Siren of Sussex by Mimi Matthews, 4.5/5, 336 pages, published 2022

Evelyn Maltravers understands exactly how little she’s worth on the marriage mart. As an incurable bluestocking from a family tumbling swiftly toward ruin, she knows she’ll never make a match in a ballroom. Her only hope is to distinguish herself by making the biggest splash in the one sphere she excels: on horseback. In haute couture. But to truly capture London’s attention she’ll need a habit-maker who’s not afraid to take risks with his designs—and with his heart.

Half-Indian tailor Ahmad Malik has always had a talent for making women beautiful, inching his way toward recognition by designing riding habits for Rotten Row’s infamous Pretty Horsebreakers—but no one compares to Evelyn. Her unbridled spirit enchants him, awakening a depth of feeling he never thought possible.

But pushing boundaries comes at a cost and not everyone is pleased to welcome Evelyn and Ahmad into fashionable society. With obstacles spanning between them, the indomitable pair must decide which hurdles they can jump and what matters most: making their mark or following their hearts?

from Goodreads

I’m so excited to have found a new (to me) historical romance author! I was sent this book as part of book tour and I happily spent a few days transported to Victorian England with charming characters and stories often left out of traditional historicals. Men discriminated against because they are only half English being allowed to touch women intimately (only for measurements and fittings, but still) and a heroine who wore glasses to balls? Shocking! Living with a spiritualist who brought her into the world of crystal balls and seances? Fun! And don’t get me started on how much I want to hire my own designer to come design my wardrobe with unique pieces that transform me.

I loved it! Don’t miss Evelyn and Ahmed’s love story, especially if you want something a little different, but not too different that you worry about a HEA being jeopardy 😁

And I’m eagerly awaiting book 2 in this series, Belles of London. Evelyn has wonderfully oddball friends and I look forward to their stories too.

I want to thank Austenprose for inviting me to be a part of this tour and sending me a copy of the book.

This Week – Snow Snow Everywhere

Fave video – We got our snow this week, around a foot by Monday and we’ve had another inch or so since then. It’s so cold that this snow isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Highlights of the Week
– Quite a few people have reached out to me wanting to talk about something I posted here, on Facebook, or Instagram, all book related and it’s been nice to reconnect with old friends.

Gage’s nature camp still met, even in all of that snow, while it was still snowing AND 16 degrees!

Eh – I took on the Treasurer position of our Friends of the Library board this week. I said yes because I’m capable and we needed someone to step up. I’m not excited about it, BUT I also know I’m going to learn new skills so that’s a plus. I’ve agreed to do it for a year, so the countdown has begun, lol.

Could’ve been better
– My to do list for the week barely has barely been touched. We put off our February vacay until Omicron starts going down. We really don’t want to be a few days into a 3 week trip and get sick. We’re aiming for March now.

Currently readingThe Siren of Sussex (Belles of London, …The Calling (Darkness Rising, #2)Allison's GambitBOSH!: How to Live VeganCharlotte's Web

Posts this weekMartin Luther King Jr. Day, Top Ten Tuesday, 2021 Books on my shelves

Books read this year – 32

We’re a few episodes in to the new Netflix show Archive 81.

Movies First Man (film).png We enjoyed this movie about Ohio astronaut Neil Armstrong.

Plans for the weekend – I need to finish up a book for a blog tour tomorrow (not a problem since I’m loving it) and tomorrow will be all about figuring out the finances of the Friends and what I need to do and then starting in on that to do list.

What about you? What are you up to this weekend?

Top Ten Tuesday – 2021 books on my shelves

So, today’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt is 2021 books that you still need to read and I NEED YOUR HELP!

The two books on top were both given to me last year and I started and then abandoned them fairly early on.

📕Are either Honey Girl or Once There Were Wolves must reads? 📕. Should I try again or give them away?

Other books that were published last year waiting to be read…

📒The Ex Hex (picked up from the local Buy Nothing group)
📗Everything We Didn’t Say (given to me by my mom)
📒The Actual Star (won in a Goodreads giveaway)
📗Fox and I (library cast off that I brought home)
📒The Mystery of Mrs. Christie (impulse buy when I was doing holiday shopping at Barnes & Noble)
📗The Presidents Daughter (picked up at the library sale)
📒The Duchess Countess (sent by publisher)
📗Sharing Ann’s Story (purchased because the Ann in the title is one of Jason’s extended family)

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.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Over the years we’ve read many books about Dr. King (this is still my favorite) and on Saturday, his birthday we read Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King Jr (it was okay). Today, we found another good one!

The Rabbi and the Reverand: Joachim Prinz, Martin Luther King Jr., and Their Fight against Justice by Audrey Ades, illustrated by Chiara Fedele. 4.5/5 stars, 32 pages, pub. 2021.

Gage already knows quite a bit about Martin Luther King Jr. and he took an hour long Outclass class about him this morning, so I was excited to find this picture book with a new approach.

In the Rabbi and the Reverend: Joachim Prinz, Martin Luther King Jr., and Their Fight against Silence is fantastic. Rabbi Prinz and his family had been kicked out of Nazi Germany for speaking out. In America he found the same kind of injustice in the South and he joined his voice to others in the civil rights fight, forming a friendship with King.

He spoke at the March on Washington and this was part of the speech included in the book. It’s something Gage and I talk about often.

“When I was the rabbi of the Jewish community in Berlin under the Hitler regime, I learned many things. The most important thing that I learned…was that bigotry and hatred are not the most urgent problems. The most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful and the most tragic problem is silence. America must not remain silent.”

This Week ‘Back’ to Normal

Fave Pic

We had some fun with our cats on National Dress Up Your Pet Day this week. This is Razzi in all of his sophisticated glory.

Highlights of the Week My back started feeling almost normal by Friday.

I got pulled over after dropping Gage off at morning nature camp for a brake light that was out. I couldn’t provide proof of insurance and he still let me off with a warning. Yay me!

I signed up for Book Riot’s TBR service and am looking forward to seeing what they choose for me.

On the homeschool front, we started a real math curriculum (it’s a book, but with worksheets, lesson plans, and tests included) instead of me making the lessons myself and not only has it taken some of the stress off, but Gage is flying through. He’s tested out of the first 25 lessons so far and I’m sure he’ll continue to ace the tests for at least the next 20, so I’m feeling way more confident that what I was doing before was working.

Could’ve been better I was in considerable pain until Friday.

Currently reading

The Vanishing Half
BOSH!: How to Live VeganCharlotte's WebComfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teach…

Books I reviewed this week

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
An American Marriage
People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
People We Meet on Vacation
Her Secret War by Pam Lecky
Her Secret War

Books read this year – 24


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A Discovery of Witches, season 1 on Amazon Prime. I read the first book of the trilogy ages ago and didn’t remember many of the details, but Jason and I both enjoyed it. Looking forward to season 2.


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Because of Winn-Dixie This is Gage’s new favorite book so he insisted we watch the movie. He assured me that they were almost the same.
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Intrusion on Netflix

Completed puzzles

Plans for the weekend

Hoping to spend some time outside in the sunshine. What about you?

An American Marriage & People You Meet On Vacation

In addition to Her Secret War, I read two more great fiction books this week! Have you read any of these? What did you think?

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry. 4 stars. 364 pages, Published 2021

People We Meet on Vacation was everywhere last year and I finally got around to a listen/read. I loved the friendship between opposites Poppy and Alex. As someone who had a best friend of the opposite sex in college and beyond I loved the banter and the love.

As Poppy found herself having everything she wanted, but still not being happy she decided that making up with Alex was a good first step. The story hops from past to present so that we find out what happened to break their friendship.

A fun modern romance even if I wish more of that lightheartedness would have carried through to the end.

This was the Goodreads Award Winner for Best Romance.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. 4.5 stars. 308 pages. Published 2018

What a great way to start my reading year! Inspired by part of a real conversation she heard at a restaurant in Atlanta. “Would you have waited seven years for me?” And the response “But it would not happen to you.” gets to the heart of this tested marriage.

From the very first pages I felt like I knew Roy and Cecilia. There was an exchange of letters explaining the current situation and then a look back at their upbringing and marriage. Their story was raw and poignant. It’s also the story of Atlanta and all that it means to them both.

If your spouse of 1 1/2 years was falsely imprisoned for 12 years how would you go on? If you like stories about marriage I highly recommend this book. I wish it had gone further in the end, but was still enraptured in their relationship and the secondary characters, especially Roy’s dad.