In the Aftermath by Jane Ward

Book Cover
In the Aftermath by Jane Ward, published 2021, 334 pages.

In the Aftermath shows what happens after someone chooses suicide. Set during the 2008 recession, David felt helpless and desperate and unable to tell his wife that they were going to lose their business. The story starts the day of the suicide and then jumps forward to two years later where we see how life has changed for his wife, daughter, best friend, the banker who approved the loan, and even the detective in charge of his case.

Guilt, anger, depression, healing, and forgiveness all share a stage in the stories of those left behind. It sounds more depressing than it really was. It’s about life and the way our lives are connected.

Thank you TLC Book Tours for getting this book in my hands and letting me be a part of the book tour.

Tour schedule:
Tuesday, September 21st: 5 Minutes For Books
Wednesday, September 22nd: Instagram: @quietmountainreader
Thursday, September 23rd: The Bookish Dilettante
Monday, September 27th: A Bookish Way of Life
Tuesday, September 28th: Instagram: @meghans_library
Wednesday, September 29th: Instagram: @g.reads
Thursday, September 30th: Stacy’s Books
Thursday, September 30th: Tabi Thoughts
Friday, October 1st: What Is That Book About
Friday, October 1st: Books, Cooks, and Looks
Monday, October 4th: Instagram: @juliawreads
Tuesday, October 5th: Instagram: @bookishly_overdue
Wednesday, October 6th: Instagram: @erynereads
Thursday, October 7th: Instagram: @mrsboomreads
Friday, October 8th: Instagram: @jenniaahava
Tuesday, October 12th: Instagram: @karendeeandabc
Wednesday, October 13th: Instagram: @boozy.bookstacker
Thursday, October 14th: Instagram: @mamacappsreads
Friday, October 15th: Instagram: @readresa

This Week – School is in session

This week we started full day of school and we hired our last instructor (reading and writing tutor in addition to piano and speech) so everything is in place for the next few months at least, yay! In the first week there was only one meltdown with tears and I think I finally have a way to deal with it that should lessen the occurrence (hopefully). Being better organized has helped immensely.

We also went to the drive in for the first time in forever. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Three Rings and Free Guy was the double feature and Gage was thrilled to be out past midnight, lol.

Here was my earlier update and here’s what I’ve read since…

This puzzle was HARD even at only 500 pieces. I loved the fun shapes of the pieces, but this wasn’t a favorite. Usually I like to look at the picture of the puzzle and then put it away, not using it after I’ve started, but not so with this one. I had the picture right in front of me the whole time 😁. The guys helped a bit, but it was too challenging to be fun for them, at least til the end. Can’t wait to see what @completingthepuzzleofficial sends next!

I listened to the Bill Clinton/James Patterson collaboration The President is Missing while I puzzled. It’s been a long while since I’ve read Patterson. I thought this was a fun, fast-paced read especially if you like political thrillers. A President only has a small amount of time to stop a terrorist attack, but the opposing party is slowing him down. And he has to trust the very people who put the attack in motion. Nothing groundbreaking, but still entertaining.
Gage and I used both of these week for our morning journal, finishing up both yesterday. I checked out both when I reserved the Ashley Bryan autobiography that I raved about yesterday. I love his illustrations.

The Night Has Ears, African Proverbs was a selection of very short proverbs, each attributed to a tribe, and a beautiful illustration taking up most of the page. A few we choose for our daily quotes…
“There is no one-way friendship.” Maasai
“No One knows the story of tomorrow’s dawn.” Ashanti

Sail Away poems by Langston Hughes and illustrations by Ashley Bryan was a nice, small poetry collection for kids, bite-sized really. I’m not a poetry person 🤷🏻‍♀️ but I do keep sharing it with Gage hoping he’ll pick it up better than I ever have. The jury’s still out.
It’s always good to read a book from my TBR piles. I get a lot of books from the library and get a few more from publishers or book tours, but that means that my pile of books to read just grows and grows.

The Perfect Girl is a thriller about 17 year old music prodigy Zoe, who was hiding from her earlier big mistake. She and her mother tried to escape what Zoe had done, but the past finally caught up to their new life.

This was told from multiple viewpoints, also going back and forth between then and now. This was a solid thriller with an ending that satisfied. I didn’t find any of the characters likable enough to care too much, but it works as a domestic character study with a twist.

It’s September?

So many things to juggle these past few weeks, so having a few minutes to stop and blog is a breath of fresh air. The glass of wine doesn’t hurt either! Gage has still not fully recovered from gastritis and that means extra doctors on board. We finally started full day school yesterday. And I’m planning a trip for us, which always stresses me out.

But I’m still on track with a book a day (barely ;)) Here are my daily updates from IG.

My September intentions! I read March, book 1, a graphic memoir that tells the story of John Lewis, civil rights hero. It jumps between the morning of Barack Obama’s inauguration and his childhood in Alabama and college days in Tennessee.

It’s very good.
March, Book 2, the graphic memoir by civil rights icon John Lewis. This covers his time with the Freedom Riders and his rise to chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee at 23, becoming one of the Big Six leaders of the civil rights movement. He was also the 6th speaker at the March on Washington.

I was so fascinated with this second of the trilogy. I loved getting a behind the scenes look at what was happening and my respect for the Lewis grew by leaps and bounds. His commitment to the cause is inspirational still.

A must read for history lovers.

I finished up the March trilogy, graphic memoirs by John Lewis, about his childhood and involvement in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s.

March Book 3 contained more of the violence against these non-violent protesters and much more about the politics involved as all organizations serving the movement were not always in agreement.

The trio of books need to be read together. He names names and brings to light the horrifying treatment and harassment of these Americans just trying to have equal rights. Especially the vote, many a protest was solely to get African Americans the right to vote, something they were routinely denied in the south. The blacks and whites pushing for change were beaten, jailed, and killed, often under the orders of the officials in charge.

Do yourself a favor and take a few hours to see the world through Lewis’s eyes. I am so thankful that there is so much heart and fact that came together for me to integrate these books into my knowledge of the time period.

Anyone who says it’s necessary to make it more difficult to vote is using the same playbook that’s always been used by those who want to stay in power and are fearful of change. So much has changed, but there’s still work to be done.

A must read when studying the civil rights movement.
I read and listened to #17 of the Jack Reacher series, A Wanted Man. I’ve been reading these in order, but accidentally read 18 before this one. 😱

I always enjoy the antihero Reacher (I’m really looking forward to the upcoming tv series!) but this was not one of my favorites. Hitchhiking his way to Virginia he gets caught up in a manhunt and faces dire consequences (yes, the dire consequences happen every book). It’s solid, but got a little too crazy by the end.
Yesterday was game day at our house and we each chose one. Gage chose Azul and he and I tied for the win. I chose our newest game, Wingspan, and kicked butt. Jason chose The River and Gage crushed us both.

These are all strategy games and if you’re curious about any of them drop a comment and I’ll show and tell tomorrow 😁

I read the delightful The Ocean at the End of the Lane. What a fantastic way to spend a few hours. Is it a fable? A fairy tale? A dream? A story sure to cause nightmares? Let’s call it all of these.

A middle aged man goes home to Sussex for a funeral and is drawn to his childhood home and the farm at the end of the road where magical things happened to him 40 years before. He had been only 7 and the story, remembered from that perspective, was frightening and real.

Loved this one! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
We’ve played Wingspan twice and love it. It’s suggested for ages 14+, but Gage is almost 11 and caught on easily. That being said, we play The River often and it’s similar in some ways so that helped. Everyone has their own board and is building their own sanctuary with birds from 3 habitats. There are 4 rounds and with the three of it took us an hour and a half the first time and closer to an hour the second.

The art on these cards (170 birds) is gorgeous. Each card tells you where the bird is found, how it nests, how big it is, and it’s habitat. It’s an easy gift for bird lovers. 🦅🐥🦉🦆🐦

There is also another way to play, solo, but we haven’t checked that out yet.

I looked through some picture books last night and settled on this one, How Emily Saved the Bridge, as being the best one about Emily Warren Roebling, the woman who was responsible finishing the Brooklyn Bridge. My book club read The Engineer’s Wife, a historical fiction novel about Emily and I was intrigued enough to want to share her story with Gage. This book covers all of important facts with fun illustrations.
We officially started full day 5th grade this morning (he’s having his weekly piano lesson now). We’re starting out with a more structured schedule so we’ll see how it goes. So far so good!

I chose the perfect day to read ADHD in HD: Brains Gone Wild. It’s written by a young adult with ADHD for kids, teens really, that also have special brains. The layout was very kid friendly and the stories/advice bite-sized so it’s easy to digest.

As a parent to a kid with ADHD this was a much needed reminder as our homeschool school year begins. I didn’t necessarily learn anything new, but I sometimes forget the struggle that goes into doing things that are typically easier for other kids. I tend to push when sometimes a hug will do just as well.

I think it’s a good book for early teens who have been diagnosed. I know that I will be sharing with Gage in a year or two. It’s a feel good book not an in-depth look into the science behind it.
Gage has read a few of the Hank series by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver. I had to decide if I thought these were up to snuff to read for schoolwork so I read You Can’t Drink a Meatball Through a Straw last night.

Interestingly, the books use the Dyslexie font that makes it easier to read for people with dyslexia. I had never heard of this before, but good to know if your child’s reading struggles stem from dyslexia or similar issues.

The story features Hank, who himself has dyslexia, and his family and friends. This one has a cousin visiting from out of town who is entered into a cook-off competition. Fast talking Hank somehow also becomes a participant. It was cute and had a feel good moment at the end. I’ve okayed the series for independent reading 😂

123 pages with a picture on each pages, mostly smallish for interest.

This Week – Finishing up school prep

So, we start full days of school this week and I’m still trying to make decisions about curriculum! The rest of my day will be spent doing the research I should have done already. The only decision left to be made is on the language arts curriculum so that I can call our new tutor and get her up to speed. Ohio raised the scholarship amount this year so, he’ll get 6 hours a week with a tutor for language arts, in addition to a weekly piano lesson and speech session. It’s all coming together, but still work to be done.

Here’s what I’ve read this week…

Gage and I started half day school this month, although we missed the week he had two ER trips and last Friday when we had two follow up appointments. I read The Tale of Despereaux aloud over the last few weeks, knowing this my reluctant reader would never read anything this long himself. Thankfully, it was a hit! It was a fun one to read aloud with plenty of opportunity to ham up the characters.

A mouse, a rat, and a princess all end up in the castle dungeon, but the how and the why are the driving force of the story. Full of humor (not always nice, but we call those teachable moments), animals that had their own stories, and silliness earned two thumbs up here in Ohio.

I listed to Paula McLain’s latest, When the Star Goes Dark, while we puzzled. The stars are the only thing connecting the two 🌟

Anna has just experienced something traumatic, we get only snippets until the very end, and retreats to the town where she grew up. She’s a missing persons detective and an old friend needs her help. This takes place in the 1900s and contains real cases, like Polly Klaas, with the fictional.

This is a dark book, just like the title says. As a mother my heart still hurts a little. If you are triggered by child abduction or abuse then read at your own risk.
We have some great friends! Both @rhapsodybooks and @wheelmaker2 sent Gage books recently and we always love new books! Thank you 🥰. These are all for older elementary kids.

Let’s start with Whale Fall Cafe because it was our favorite. From the outside it looks like a silly story, but on the inside it gives you all of the details about a whales death and what happens once the carcass hits the ocean floor. It was fascinating, and perfect for kids who like their stories with a little bit of gross factor. Gage read this to me and got a kick out of my inability to look at the illustrations for more than a few seconds. Highly recommend!!

Little Leonardo’s Fascinating World of Paleontology was the opposite of Whale Fall. It had cutesy illustrations with just too much information to make it fun. But, the 6 experiments at the end make it worth a look. We’ve already done two and hope to do at least one more. We both thought the story was okay, 3 stars, and the experiments fun, 5 stars.

We read Desert Baths because we’re studying Nevada this week. It is fantastic.!! The story about the creatures who live in the desert was good and over half the book. It’s the 6 pages of facts and fun quizzes at the end that made this a big win for both of us. This is a perfect book for homeschoolers and school libraries or classrooms. Highly recommend.
Do you love the bees? Do you think they are aggressive pests out to cause you misery? Do you want to know and do more? Even if you answered no to all of these questions you should still pick up this book.

50 Easy Ways To Help Save the Bees 🐝 is a great read. We love the bees because we understand what they do for us. but even I learned new things. The first 23 pages are about the plight of the different kinds of bees which I thought was excellent. The 50 ideas were well though out.

I read this last night and shared things with Gage this morning. Our afternoon project is to go through the book together and choose 5 things to do this year. We received a pack of seeds last year from a save the bee campaign and threw them into out old bee container this past spring. They may not look like much now but we still get bees daily.

At 127 pages this is a must read. 🖤💛🖤💛🖤

Susan Elizabeth Phillips is an automatic buy for me (as are Harlan Coben and Sarah Addison Allen). She is a master of romance. While not a series, this is the 9th book she’s written about a member of the Chicago Stars football organization.

In When the Stars Collide Olivia, world renowned opera singer, and Thad, backup Stars quarterback must spend weeks together traveling the country promoting a brand. It’s not exactly love at first sight, but heartbreak and danger are close at hand.

Loved it ❤️❤️❤️❤️
Sauna time! I’ve been in here less than 10 minutes and I’m already sweating. I’m not a fan, but we’ve had the infrared sauna for years and the doctor we saw with Gage a few weeks ago told us we really needed to be using it twice a week. So, I sit here and sweat for my health 😅

Are you a sauna fan?

Okay, the book…The Last Thing He Told Me 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! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

This Week – ERs and sickness

This has been a week. I’m posting my reading week from my daily IG, but this morning’s Gage update is that he is feeling quite a bit better. Mornings have been rough and this has been the best one so far this week, so here’s hoping the rest of the day continues the healing trend!

The Devil in Disguise by Lisa Kleypas (Ravenels #7)
Sunday morning mimosa anyone? Don’t mind if I do! Some days opening a bottle of Korbel for one (okay, maybe two) mimosas on your deck seems like the only thing to do.

I really should be drinking whisky since the hero of the latest Ravenel book is a Scottish distiller. This book brings together the Ravenel family with her other popular series, The Wallflowers. I’m not sure you really need to have read any of the other books to enjoy this steamy historical romance.

Right from the get go hardworking Merritt and Keir feel lust and within days the widower and the Scot share a passionate night together. The trouble begins immediately as someone tries to kill him and almost succeeds.

This was a fun read. Kleypas is fast becoming my favorite historical romance writer. This one is hot off the presses and hot in the romance.

We finally finished our 500 piece Norway puzzle from Completing the Puzzle . It was harder than it looked at first but we all liked finding the Vikings around the puzzle.

I read the 400+ page Ocean Prey with Lucas Davenport (#31) and Virgil Flowers. I’ve read all the Davenport books (except last year’s, somehow I missed that one) and a few of the Virgil ones. Lucas has been a US Marshal for awhile and the case of murdered Coast Guard puts him in Florida.

I don’t want to say too much, but if you read this series you might get a little teary at something that happened to a favorite character.

Loved this one! I didn’t realize how much I’d missed these two.
Yesterday, we took Gage to the ER for some tummy/chest area issues. He’s better but still not great, but they ruled out heart and lungs and sent us home. He’s only been able to eat applesauce, rice, and pretzels. Even Honeynut Cheerios made him sick. We’ll get it sorted out but it’s no fun watching your kids feel yucky.

I remembered to grab the Nintendo Switch for Gage, but forgot a book for myself, so last night before bed I read him The Hill We Climb by the youngest poet to deliver a poetry reading at a presidential election. This poem is perfection and gave us so many things to talk about with all the things going on in this country.

A taste…
“Scripture tells us to envision that:
‘Everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree,
And no one shall make them afraid.’
If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory
Won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made.
That is the promised glade,
The hill we climb, if only we dare it:
Because being American is more than a pride we inherit-
It’s the past we step into, and how we repair it.

We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it,
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
And this effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed,
It can never be permanently defeated.”

The force that would shatter our country rather than share it is alive and well still. May Gorman’s words give us all the resolve we need to make sure our democracy remains strong for our children.
Monday- ER. Tuesday- power out morning until early afternoon. Wednesday- a second ER trip and now our power is out again after a storm. Please tell me this week will get better!

Gage was pretty sickly this morning. Back in the ER they gave him fluids and ran bloodwork. And sent us home with nothing but give him Miralax, Pepcid, and Zofran and hope that in a few days he’ll feel better 😟. So, anyone out there who would like to say a prayer or send some positive energy that would be appreciated. I sent jason and gage to grandma’s to enjoy her electricity while I’m here trying to enjoy some de-stress time in the growing darkness.

Last night before bed we read this beautiful picture book about a mother preparing for the birth of her child. Loved learning more about the Inniniwak and their traditions. The illustrations and story were just what this mama needed last night. A sweet book for a mom-to-be. I Sang you Down from the Stars by Tasha Spillett.
Thanks for your positive vibes and prayers for Gage yesterday. Keep ‘me coming, he’s still feeling bad and can barely tolerate food 🥺. I’m hoping we can get him over the worst of it soon.

After we got back from the ER yesterday Gage and I finished this gorgeous double sided puzzle. So fun and happy, something we both needed yesterday. Now we’ll take it all apart and do the other side. Stay tuned!

After the electricity went out and the guys went to grandma’s house for TV I sat outside and finished this wonderful book. Seriously, it’s way more than I thought it would be. It’s Texas history told in relation to her own personal experience and the the history of the country. I learned so much! By sharing the history we never hear about of blacks and Native Americans as Europeans first made it to this land the picture of our country becomes clearer. The emphasis is on Texas, but even as an Ohioan I was drawn in by her storytelling.

Juneteenth by Annette Gordon Reed. It’s only 148 pages and I highly recommend it. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Gage is pretty much the same as yesterday. Rough morning, little to eat, but was able to tolerate some potatoes with chicken for dinner. Baby steps.

We’re studying Kansas this week and I read these three yesterday and let Gage choose one to read today. This week I have allowed way more screen time than necessary, but there has to be some upside of being sick, right?

All three of these are longer picture books for the older elementary crowd and about real people.

Sharice’s Big Voice: A Native Kid Becomes a Congresswoman is the story of Sharice Davids, one of the first Native American women to hold the office and the first LGBTQ congressperson to represent Kansas. It’s a good story for kids, that no matter what people say you can or can’t do, it’s you who decides your fate. Inspiring story of her childhood and heritage. It just came out in June.

Fieldhouse is another autobiographical kids book, this one a graphic memoir that I found a little busy, but Gage loved (I knew this would be the one he picked!). Dreaming of playing for the Kansas Jayhawks, Scott Novosel made his dream come through with perseverance.

No Small Potatoes: Junius G. Groves and His Kingdom in Kansas was my favorite. Junius was born a slave in Kentucky but was still a child when freed. He headed west, stopped in Kansas and got a job working on a farm. He was such a hard worker he was soon overseeing it. He held firm to his dream of having his own farm and through sweat and sacrifice became Potato King of the World, in 1919 he had over 2,000 acres of his own land. Loved this story and the illustrations.

Still reading books published this year, so if you have one I should read let me know!

This Week – School in back in session (sort of)

August 1st brings a new month of reading possibilities. I’ve never been driven to read what’s new. Unless it’s a favorite author I prefer to let the dust (and my expectations) settle first.

For August I’ve decided to read only books published this year. I went a little crazy at the library and here they are, my intentions for the month. Sammi was excited to check them out too!

I started with Own It: The secret to Life by Diane Von Furstenberg and I hope this is not an omen of the rest of my book choices. Set up like a dictionary with with trite thoughts about them, this book failed in almost every way for me. The few bright spots were the short stories that she attached to some words. If the whole book had been that it would have been fun. As it is you get advice such as this…

PINK. Pink is what white does to red. It is the most feminine and flirtatious of all colors.

PURPLE. Purple is what blue does to red. It is a color we either love or hate.

LOSER. I sometimes feel like one, and then I remind myself, only losers don’t feel like losers.

At least it was relatively short.
Hairpin Bridge started off strong with a twin sister trying to find the truth behind her twin’s supposed suicide. It ended on the same day after lots of action, storytelling, and revelations. It read fast and had a solid suspenseful idea. It lost momentum in the way it kept going back and forth, but managed to surprise in the end, which is always nice.

We took our first half day of school on the road to Penitentiary Glen, about 30 minutes from us. We decided to take the book on a bit of our hiking trail. 
We took Yang Warriors with us on our morning walk to Shadow Lake. This 40 page, beautifully illustrated book tells the true story of a group of children in a Thai refugee camp. The author lived at the camp with her family when she was five. Her sister was part of a group of children who snuck out of camp to gather fresh food for the weak and sick younger kids, giving them all hope of better days. Those kids were, and still are, viewed as heroes in the eyes of those they fed at much risk to themselves.

It didn’t explain why the kids were there or even what a refugee camp was so if reading this with your child it would be helpful to talk about that before reading the story. Otherwise, it was a great book with kids providing inspiration to other kids. Bravery has many faces and it’s important that kids see as many of them as possible.

My mom loaned me How Lucky telling me it was different. I agree and that’s what I really liked about it. Confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak, Daniel lives in Georgia near his best friend since birth who makes sure he has a social life. Daniel sees a girl kidnapped and tries to do the right thing, even if the police are not especially helpful.

There was the mystery of the disappearance, but it was the story of his life with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, past and future that kept me reading and interested. He was a great character and I loved his relationships with friends.
I picked this up purely for the fun cover and had a fun time hanging around Hampstead Heath. What Abigail Did That Summer is #5.3 in the Rivers of London series, but I had no problem jumping right in to the world of the talking foxes and the fae.

Abigail is still in school and must pass Latin before her uncle will let her begin training in magic. She spends the summer with a new friend investigating strange disappearances.

It was mostly light and fun and Abigail was a hoot.
I loved this sweet throwback story. Rosetown Summer is 84 pages about friendship and family in a small Indiana town in 1974. Ten-year-old Flora doesn’t like change, loves quiet, and has many anxieties about things out of her control and I think any child who fits that description would probably like this one.

This is a sequel to Rosetown.
We started half days of homeschool this week, each day a different park to explore. We hiked, enjoyed swings and playgrounds, and still managed to carve out some book learning at picnic tables. This is our August plan and a great way to ease into 5th grade.

I is for Immigrants was recommended to us and counts as a new book since it was just released. We both had fun going through the alphabet picture book full of words that describe the immigrant experience. So much great discussion. Recommended.

Journey: Based on the True Story of OR17 The Most Famous Wolf in the West. A recent news story told in a fabulous way alternating between the wolf’s journey and a 10 year old following his path. Great facts pages at the end. Highly recommended for older elementary kids who love animals or nature.

Apples to Oregon: Being the (Slightly) True Narrative of How a Brave Pioneer Father Brought Apples, Peaches, Pears, Plums, Grapes, and Cherries (and Children) Across the Plains. This is told as a tall tale with fun illustrations sure to appeal to the plant and tree lover.

How was your week? Have any new books to recommend I read this month?

French books, tea, puzzles and wine

When I decided to participate in Paris in July, I reserved books at the library, bought some French wine, ordered a few puzzles, and…visited Etsy! I only let myself order two things and one came this week all the way from France.

The Eiffel Tower shaped tea bags from Tea Heritage are adorable and tasty. What a fun way to add a little pizazz to my morning tea. They have all kinds of shapes and, as you can see, the shapes and tea sachets are a great size.
We finished our 1500 piece Ravensburger Paris puzzle last night! It was a fun one, although I had a hard time with the dark section on the right. My eyes aren’t what they used to be 😂

I also finished My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud’homme, published 2006, 336 pages. I listened mostly but did like having the actual book so I could look through the pictures included throughout. I liked this so much more than I thought I would!

It’s about food, France, friends, foreign service, and fame late in the game. There were lots of names of people and places and, to be honest, I’m glad that I listened. If I had read it I may have become caught up in the details 🤣. As it was, I felt like I was listening to an accomplished and happy woman tell tales from her life to me and a group of friends and it worked.

Have you ever watched Julia on screen or tried one of her recipes? I haven’t but feel like I need to now.

I’m not saying that having friends drive you through some of the prettiest areas of France was a gift, oh wait, I am saying that! Look at the cover of today’s book an compare to my photo from our trip. 😍. We spent a day admiring the views and visiting small villages and it was a breath of fresh air. This was the Beaujolais area.

You Me Everything by Catherine Isaac (published 2018, 384 pages) is a great beach read. A single mother takes her 10 year old to France for 5 weeks so that he can spend quality time with a father he rarely sees. She’s leaving a scary situation with her mom, bringing a few friends, and harboring a serious secret. There are heavy topics, but they’re done with a light enough touch. I can’t say I loved any of the characters, but i enjoyed the audio.

I’m drinking a lovely Bordeaux, Chateau Moulin Lafitte. I love the lightness of the full bodied wine.

This was an impulse buy when I visited Barnes and Noble last month and I’m so glad I brought it home just in time for our (modest) vacation planning. It helped awaken the wanderlust 😁. So many gorgeous pictures. Paris had 4 pages of pics, this is just the first.

What’s the most exotic place you’ve ever visited?

And this book went perfectly with the postcard I received yesterday from Poland. I love the whole world in his hands photo. Zuzuka told me the last movie she saw was Birdy (Ptasiek in Polish).

What’s the last movie you saw? We just binged the rest of the final season of Bosch last night so we’re looking for a good movie next.
I listened to Jane Smiley’s most recent (Perestroika in Paris), told from the perspectives of a horse, a dog, a raven, two ducks and a few rats. These animals are living in Paris on their own and have loosely banded together. They understand and use money to pay for things 😒 The story meandered along at a snail’s pace, but the happy ending was nice.

I was completely the wrong reader for this one. I don’t usually care for these kinds of first person animal stories, but I wanted to try something different set in Paris and this was definitely that. I think Gage would have enjoyed it more than I did.

Make sure you visit Tamara at Thyme for Tea for more Paris in July posts.

Finishing up June & thoughts about my challenges

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…

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The Husbands by Chandler Baker. Published 2021, 352 pages

 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?

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A Guide to Photographing the Art of Nature by Bruce Heinemann. Published 1994, 152 pages

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!).

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Answers for the 4A Epidemic by Joseph Cannizzaro, MD. Published 2012, 256 pages

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.

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Creekfinding by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Claudia McGehee. Published 2017 pages, 36 pages.

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.

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Dark Was the Night by Gary Golio and EB Lewis. Published 2020, 32 pages.

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.

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The Legend of the Bluebonnet by Tomie dePaola. Published 1983, 32 pages.

A fun retelling of a Texas legend involving the Comanche people and the bluebonnet, the state flower.

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Small Room, Big Dreams by Monica Brown and Mirelle Ortega. Published 2021, 40 pages.

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.

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Nacho’s Nachos by Sandra Nickel and Oliver Dominguez. Published 2020, 32 pages.

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.

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Waynetta and the Cornstalk by Helen Ketteman and Diane Greenseid. Published 2007, 32 pages.

Waynetta and the Cornstalk was a fun Texas fairytale involving some magic corn, giants and a brave little girl.

Pumpkin Island by Arthur Geisert
Pumpkin Island by Arthur Geisert. Published 2018, 40 pages

Pumpkin Island was a fun and silly story about pumpkins taking over a small town. Loved the illustrations in this one as well.

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Diary of Sarah Gillespie by Sarah Gillespie. Published 2014, 32 pages.

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.

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Buffalo Bill and the Pony Express by Eleanor Coerr and Don Bolognese. Published 1995, 64 pages.

Buffalo Bill was born in Iowa even though this story about his time in the Pony Express didn’t take place there.

Hurricane Heroes in Texas by Mary Pope Osborne
Magic Tree House #30 Hurricane Heroes in Texas by Mary Pope Osborne. Published 2018, 112 pages.

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.

An okay reading and movie week

When I set my book a day goal at the beginning of the year I knew I had to add in some days that would fit in with family life, so I decided to okay movies based on books (preferably ones I read or planned to read). We’re closing in on the halfway point of the year and this week I watched movies 6 & 7. Hopefully, I’ll get a comparison of one of them done next week.

For July, I’ve signed up for Thyme for Tea’s Paris in July event. I hope to add as much reading and movie watching set in Paris as I possibly can. I’ll even see if I can find some pics from our France trip 10 years ago.

This week I watched 2 movies, read 2 non-fiction, 1 fiction, 1 kids nonfiction, 1 picture book fiction, 1 picture book nonfiction. Here they are listed in the order I liked them best. I’ve already read and reviewed Indestructible: The Hidden Gift of Trauma by Krista Nerestant here.

The Hate U Give, 2018, based on the novel by Angie Thomas, 2017

Starr (played by Amandla Stenberg) has a loving family and lives in a neighborhood riddled with violence. At ten she watched her best friend get gunned down and she’s about to witness the same thing, only this time it’s a policeman who does the shooting.

It was a great book and a good movie, written before George Floyd changed the protest landscape. This one is worth reading and watching. I loved watching Russell Hornsby as Mav the most.

Our Souls At Night, 2017, based on the novel by Ken Haruf, 2015

The movie starred Jane Fonda and Robert Redford as two lonely neighbors who tried something scandalous to get through the nights. It was pretty faithful to the book until close to the end and I thought the changes they made actually made more sense! It’s a quiet movie and nice to see a story featuring older folks.

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Freedom Over Me by Ashley Bryan, 2016, 56 pages, 4 stars

The celebrated author and illustrator Ashley Bryan, came into possession of a bill of sale, where slaves were listed (not by name) alongside cattle and crop. He imagined the lives of each of these 11 slaves and what their hopes and dreams may have looked like. A powerful picture book.

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https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1618.The_Curious_Incident_of_the_Dog_in_the_Night_TimeThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon, 2013, 226 pages, 4 stars

I finally read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. I need to take some time to process. As many of you know Gage is on the spectrum, so my feelings are mixed. I recognized so many Gage behaviors, but am not sure the author was doing justice to the main character, 15 year old Christopher. It was nice to have autism front and center, but I hope all who read it understand that it’s fiction and not representative.

Told in the first person, Christopher lives with his father after his mother died and goes to a special school with an aide during the day. When a neighbor’s dog is murdered Christopher decides to find the killer. What he finds is much more than that, of course.

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So You Want To Be A Knight?, 2021, 96 pages, 4 stars

The good stuff- ➕everything your kid would want to know about how to become a knight is in here. ➕each spread of the 90 pages book is a different topic. ❤️ the instructions on making your own coat of arms. ❤️ the quiz on which order you should seek out based on your personality (I got Order of the Round Table)

The stuff I didn’t love 🤪 there was a lot to take in visually and the first few pages were confusing. It got better as the book went on. 😩 also there were some violently drawn cartoons that I could have done without even though I know knights are violent.

Gage didn’t want to read this straight through, but he did enjoy exploring the pages a few at time. I did read it straight through and liked all of the details. I feel so much smarter 😁

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Lift Every Voice and Sing by James Weldon Johnson and Bryan Collier, 2007, 3.5 stars

Johnson wrote this song in 1900 to celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and it has become known as the African American national anthem. Collier put beautiful artwork to the words.

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Expect A Miracle: A Mother and Son Asperger Journey of Determination and Triumph, 2014, 356 pages, 3.5 stars

Note: There is a second edition with additional chapters.

I met David Petrovic when he came to talk at Gage’s school a few years ago. He’s local, he has Aspergers, and he’s thriving. I just read a recent article that he’s now earned a Master’s Degree, is working as a middle school teacher, and living in his own.. This journey toward success is painstakingly detailed in this book by his mother and David from the time he was a baby through his second year of college.

Sandy breaks up the years and tells of each of his challenges, what interventions they used, and what insight she gained. Then David took his turn giving his perspective.

This isn’t a how-to or even a true memoir, but instead a true look at what goes into the day to day of helping a person living on the spectrum shine. Some of it was repetitive, but it was inspirational. Both mom and son worked tirelessly and optimistically so that David could live his best life. Hats off to both of them.

Have you read any of these?

Indestructible: The Hidden Gifts of Trauma by Krista Nerestant

Indestructible by Krista Nerestant

Welcome to Krista Nerestant’s journey from the other side of the globe-the islands of the Philippines-to the United States of America. Indestructible is where she shares the hidden gifts of trauma that have empowered her to not only survive but also thrive in a life most would have given up on. Krista was a traumatized overachiever bound by the cultural and societal limitations of her home country. But coming out as a spiritual medium exposed the many resources she had in her arsenal, inspiring her to embark on a healing journey. In Indestructible, she shares how she learned to extract life-healing lessons while overcoming a violent past, with the hope of inspiring and teaching survivors to approach personal wounds as a gateway to unleashing their self-actualization. Her story will stimulate you mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually-but most of all, it will lead you to start your own journey of self-discovery and uncover your very own hidden gifts of trauma.

192 pages, Paperback

I forget why I initially agreed to read this book, but there must have been something in the pitch that appealed to me, because this is not my usual read. Whatever it was that drew me to it was right on point. Krista’s memoir of overcoming horrific abuse at the hands of her father in the Philippines, only to come to America as a teen and experience other kinds of trauma is one that pulls at the heartstrings. She explores the spiritual journey of the human spirit, no matter what it is that is holding us back. She gives hope for a better day, a better year, a better life because everything you need is within your grasp.

Her story is fascinating. Through her stories of childhood and experiences as an adult she shares how compassion and forgiveness are what you need to forge ahead and make a better life for yourself. It was a memoir with self-care strategies to make a more fulfilling life. She is a medium and a life coach and you can find her here.