How was your week? Have any new books to recommend I read this month?
The donuts are from my Instagram pic. I received the puzzle and the postcard on the same day 🙂
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I’m adding 13 books to my June count, finishing up the month with 44 books and 3 bookish movies.
Since this is also the md-year point, let’s do an update on my two challenges. The Book a Day Challenge has been easier than expected. As you’ve noticed, I’ve read a lot of kids books and that’s helped, but I’ve also watched a lot less bookish movies than I thought I would. I’ve read 217 books and watched 7 movies. This challenge, that I update daily on IG, is a fun challenge that I’m loving.
My other challenge was my lose 50 by 50 challenge. Let’s just say that it’s not going well, and for my own mental health all I’m going to say is that I’m a work in progress 🙂
Here are the books I read since last week…
Nora was on a fast track to senior partner with a 4 year old daughter and a baby on the way. She was stressed and needed more help and understanding from her husband. When she is welcomed into a close knit suburban community full of accomplished women with doting husbands she begins to imagine a new type of marriage.
I liked the idea of this, but it took me a while to get into it. Once I did I enjoyed the modern spin on the Stepford Wives concept. How far are you willing to go for a perfect marriage?
There are 3 chapters and lots of photos. The chapters (lighting, seeing, creating) are just as much about how to see than they are about how to take the photo. It’s a lovely book I’m happy to have in my house to look at anytime I want (I’m looking at you Cleveland winter!).
I read Answers for the 4A Epidemic: Healing for Kids with Autism, ADHD, Asthma, and Allergies. Cannizzaro is an MD who makes the very solid case for kids who have any of these diagnoses to have an integrative doctor onboard. I couldn’t agree more.
He does a great job of explaining the often complicated processes of out of sync bodies and what we, as parents, can do to help. He was great at explaining the breakdown, with some places to start with diet, if interested. Obviously, not for every kid, but diet makes a big difference here.
I loved the illustrations and the true story about a man who buys property and resurrects a creek that had been filled in. The man? Michael Osterholm who is currently on President Biden’s Covid Advisory Council.
Dark Was the Night: Blind Willie Johnson’s Journey to the Stars was such a treat. Johnson, who went blind as a child, played in street corners in Texas. Now his music is flying on Voyager I outside our galaxy on the Golden Record.
A fun retelling of a Texas legend involving the Comanche people and the bluebonnet, the state flower.
Small Room, Big Dreams: The Journey of Julian and Joaquin Castro is a great new book about the twins and how they have always been involved in wanting to make life better for people.
Nacho’s Nachos: The Story Behind the World’s Favorite Snack takes place in Mexico, but it was included in my search because in 1940 Mamie Finan came from just over the border to The Victory Club and inspired Ignacio Anaya (Nacho for short) to create the first delicious snack that bears his name.
Waynetta and the Cornstalk was a fun Texas fairytale involving some magic corn, giants and a brave little girl.
Pumpkin Island was a fun and silly story about pumpkins taking over a small town. Loved the illustrations in this one as well.
Diary of Sarah Gillespie has entries from the teen’s diary growing up on a 100 acre farm in the 1880’s. There was added definitions, clarification, and photos.
Buffalo Bill was born in Iowa even though this story about his time in the Pony Express didn’t take place there.
I really don’t like these books. The writing isn’t great, but the idea is usually good. We were studying Texas last week so this worked.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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 ❤️
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 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?
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.
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.
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?
The book, while tongue in cheek, isn’t quite funny enough for satire. It does its best to lower expectations at work, at home, in relationships, but, unfortunately, I couldn’t let go of my hope for more.
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 🙂
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?
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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?
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!
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 😁
This has been a weirdly non-fiction reading week. It’s been nice, but I’m craving a quick thriller or romance! I loved all 13 books I read this week (except for those last 3 kids books, I could have skipped those).
Weekly breakdown- 5 Picture books (4 non-fiction), 3 Kids Non-Fiction, 2 Non-Fiction (social issues), 1 Inspirational, 1 Thriller, 1 Fiction.
I’m listing these in the order I liked them best. 124 books read so far this year!
Rather talks about our country’s past, present, and future in relation to freedom, community, exploration, responsibility, and character. It’s about what the country is and what it could be if compromised politicians and non truth tellers get out of the way. It was inspirational and also aspirational and made me feel all of the good feels about our country and a desire to do more to shape its future.
Part memoir, part essay – all heart.
This has been our bedtime family reading. We all really enjoyed it and laughed often. Gage fell for the ‘cliffhanger’ at the end of each chapter forcing us do sneak peeks every night :). He made turn into a book guy yet!
Stine is from Columbus and graduated from Ohio State, a little ahead of my time, but I still loved reading about his time on campus and working on the school magazine, The Sundial. He headed to NYC after that and never looked back. Some of his writing jobs were funny and some seemed way wrong, like writing celebrity interviews that he never conducted, but he paid his dues before hitting the fame train. This was a lot of fun and included lots of photos and original drawings from Stine.
I listened to The Affair by Lee Child, #16 in the Jack Reacher series. I’ve read the series in order, but this is a flashback novel and takes place 6 months before the first book in the series. I always love spending time with Reacher and it was a nice change of pace since he was still in the military.
A woman is murdered in Mississippi near an army base and Reacher is sent undercover to assess the situation. He finds that this isn’t the first murder. Not surprising to any Reacher fan he also ends up under covers with a beautiful woman (with a little too much detail, especially when you’re listening to the audio). After 16 books you finally get the WHY of Reacher leaving the military police.
Another solid entry into the life of Jack Reacher.
A Burning, Megha Majumdar’s debut novel, tells the story of ambition from three different points of view. Set in her homeland of India, the politics were different, but sadly recognizable.
Javan, a Muslim is accused of being a terrorist after posting on Facebook. Lovely is a transgender woman who faces ugliness everyday, but still manages to shine. PT Sir, a gym teacher who becomes ‘important’ by doing things he knows are wrong. All three are connected, but will have very different fates.
I liked quite a lot about this book. I was at different times fascinated by the class structure, rooting for justice, and horrified by the lack of compassion. It left me unsettled, as was its intent I’d guess. If you want to try a different kind of thriller this is a good one!
The Four Doors: A Guide to Joy, Freedom, and a Meaningful Life is written by Richard Paul Evans of The Christmas Box (etc.) fame. It’s based on a talk that he has given to different audiences around the world. There are four doors, choose one or choose them all, each will lead to a richer life. Believe there’s a reason you were born. Free yourself from limitation. Magnify your life. Develop a love-centered map.
I admit that I really didn’t have high hopes for this so I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this short book. He is God centered, but this book didn’t feel church centered. He included quotes from a wide array of unexpected people, like Emerson, Dostoyevsky, Churchill, and Einstein, as well as a multitude of quotes from his books.
He glossed over some things, but in the spirit of an hour or two with an uplifting book that may change your perspective I’m giving it a thumbs up. I really liked it.
Jason and I listened to a little of it together and I read the rest (reading is the way to go on this one). You need to be prepared to just take it in, without getting defensive. That is not to say you have to agree with everything she says (I didn’t) but giving yourself the time and space to reflect on what she says is important.
Why is it so hard to talk about race without people (whites in this case) retreating behind excuses and denials without really taking the time to try and understand? The book is spot on in the things I’ve heard people say, myself included, that completely dismiss racism, whether intentional or not. I am SO GLAD I read this.
This is a book to understand a bit better how our whole way of living here in the States was built and is maintained by at least some level of racism, and how you define racism is important.
It did not make me feel bad about being white. It made see ways that I can be better as a person. We should all strive for more knowledge and perspective.
This is for older elementary as there is lots of reading, but the story, illustrations, and information page at the end are fabulous. It generated discussion all through dinner. Jean Laffite was a privateer (a new term for me) whose ancestors had been kicked out of Europe for being Jewish. He grew up wanting to take out his revenge on Spanish ships on the open seas. And he did. How did this boy from the Caribbean go from thief and slave trader to national hero with a pardon from the President? If you don’t know the story I’m not going to spoil it! We both loved this book.
One sentence reviews from Gage.
Art From Her Heart: Folk Artist Clementine Hunter. When Clementine was 50 years old she began painting and eventually became so famous her art was hung in museums.
Patience and other penguins at the Audubon Aquarium in New Orleans were rescued during Hurricane Katrina.
A fictional story about Shorty, a kid who played in a second line band and learned about dedication, tradition, and love. (Based on the author’s experience)
I always thought Jesse was born in Cleveland, but he didn’t move here until he was 9, even though his middle name is actually Cleveland! When he ran for Ohio State he broke FIVE World RECORDS and tied a sixth all within 45 MINUTES! How is this humanly possibly? Lots of pictures and commentary about his place in the social issues of the time.
The book was pretty good, but that cover really does ruin it.
A book about the Manning family (Archie, Peyton, and Eli) that’s good for young kids who like football.
A week into April and I’m having a nice reading month so far. I’ve read 11 books: 4 picture books (all black folklore), 2 kids biographies, 1 thriller, 1 romantic mystery, 1 fiction, 1 poetry, 1 inspirational.
Posted in the order I liked them best. These pics are from my Instagram account, so let’s connect there as well! @stacybuckeye
Since my last book update I’ve finished 5 books. The first three in a romantic mystery series, one fiction, and one kid non-fiction. Obviously, I’m loving the Lucy Valentine series and expect I’ll finish up the last two soon, while I’ve still got my mom’s Kindle.
So much fun! The Valentine family has been able to read auras for generations. They turned this secret ability into a very successful Boston matchmaking service. Lucy must take the lead, but her secret ability has nothing to do with auras.
There’s a missing toddler and a skeleton buried in a shallow grave in the woods and Lucy can see them both. Enter a sexy firefighter, a meddling grandmother, two best friends, a three legged cat, and new hamster and you’ve got the makings of a fun mystery.
I read the second book of the Lucy Valentine series sooner rather than later even if it meant reading on a device – which. I HATE. But, even that couldn’t ruin it. Lucy and her merry group of family, friends, and foes were back and I was happy to spend time with them. Oh, and the sexy firefighter/PI was back too. Certainly can’t forget him!
Lucy now has her own division of her family matchmaking company, finding lost lives. She’s also helping the police on cases if she can using her special ability of being able to shake a person’s hand and locate what they’ve lost. One case from each of these, along with a myriad of other personal issues keep this book hopping. Lucy can accomplish a lot in a day!
There was no let down with this second book. The first few chapters were skimmable because they were full of info from the first book, but maybe only to me since I just read the first book two days ago.
I love all of the characters, and there are plenty, and how much each one is integral to her daily life. I don’t think Lucy would have done so well in Covid lockdown. Maybe that’s why it’s extra fun to read about her now.
The third of the Lucy Valentine series didn’t disappoint. I love the kind-hearted, special powers to save the world, Lucy. Her family, friends, and various cohorts are always a hoot. This time she’s helping the police find a missing man who may have committed suicide and also trying to find a lost love for a client that puts her in the crosshairs of the FBI. Oh, and there’s a Lone Ranger who comes along every few days to shower the city of Boston with thousands in $20 bills.
The sexy boyfriend has a heart condition that keeps the story grounded, but even that storyline pulls at the heartstrings instead of bringing you down.
This came up in a search for another book at the library and I was intrigued enough to check it out. I love the included backstory of how this book project began. Her son was interested in the presidents, so she began researching and drawing their portraits for him. She became frustrated and galvanized after drawing 44 portraits of men. Hence this book.
I loved this book! There’s a quote for each woman and a portrait full of information. There is also a follow up at the end listing all of the women, when they lived, and a powerful moment. This is inspired art and I only wish it had been longer!
The first portrait she did was the one on the cover, Carrie Fisher. Some others included are Yuri Kochiyama, Dian Fossey, Shirley Muldowney, Betsey Johnson, and Abby Wambach. I learned about some new women and spent time on Google finding out more.
I love Kristan Higgins. I’ve read about half of her books and am always entertained with laughs and heart. She has a light touch, wicked sense of humor and great characters. Unfortunately, for the first time, I found it hard to generate any excitement for this one. The only reason I buckled down and finished listening last night was because it was Higgins.
The Frost family is in turmoil. The head of the family has had a stroke, something his wife finds out on the day she plans to divorce him. As he lies in the hospital, she discovers he’s been having an affair. Their oldest, perfect daughter is going through a midlife crisis professionally and personally and their youngest daughter just got down in one knee to propose to her boyfriend of two years. He said no.
I couldn’t have cared less about them, even actively disliking most of them at any given time. I’m hoping this was just a one time thing from this reliable author. And, hey, I’m sure some people loved it 😁. I did love the multi person audio performance.
Long Time Coming. Finished 6-1-20, 1.5/5 stars, romance, pub. 1988
He arrived out of the blue—a flesh-and-blood phantom from the past in a sports car as sleek and sexy as Law Kincaid himself. The world-famous astronaut was as devastatingly attractive as the first time Marnie Hibbs had laid eyes on him, seventeen years before. But she well knew the perils of falling for a ladies’ man like Law. And this time she had someone besides herself to protect. Law is determined to discover who is sending him anonymous letters claiming he’d fathered a son he knows nothing about. Showing up at the Hibbs’s return address from the letters seemed like a step in the right direction. Marnie swears she isn’t the guilty party, but when Law meets her son, it’s like a one-two punch to his solar plexus. The boy is nearly the spitting image of Law. Law can’t remember sleeping with Marnie—then again, he can’t remember much about his crazy past. But there’s more to it than that: Marnie claims the boy isn’t biologically hers.
As the tension between them becomes unbearable and the attraction undeniable, Marnie is forced to reveal a long-held secret…one that might cause her to lose both the boy she loves more than anyone—and the man she desires more than anything. from Goodreads
My teen years, such as the year this was written, were filled with romances. I loved those short teen romances, then the romantic suspense, and finally the historical romance. I remember reading Sandra Brown’s romances and liking them even though she wasn’t a favorite. So, what’s changed? We have. As a society we’ve largely moved from accepting these sexist relationship views. Trust me, I still see plenty of it, but there’s no denying that things that changed for the better. I can still read an 80’s romance and enjoy it, but this is not one of them. The two main characters are weak and reprehensible. I’m considering trying some of my old 80’s faves (McNaught, Deveraux, Joyce) to see what I think now. Hopefully they will fare better than this one.