Finishing April with a bang!

This last week of April reading had been fantastic! Seven books – 1 play, 1 inspirational, 1 thriller, 1 kids fiction, 1 fiction, 1 historical fiction, 1 non-fiction/current affairs. I was all over the genres and it worked 🙂

Listed in the order I liked them best with my Instagram thoughts posted.

Leaving Coy's Hill by Katherine A. Sherbrooke
Leaving Coy’s Hill by Katherine A Sherbrooke

Leaving Coy’s Hill is my last book of April and one of my favorites! Lucy Stone isn’t a trailblazer I knew anything about, except to hear her named linked to Susan B Anthony or Elizabeth Stanton. Do yourself a favor and get your hands on this one when it comes out next week (May 4).

Lucy, raised by an abolitionist father, became a skilled orator as she paid her own way through Oberlin in in the mid 1800s. Her skills caught the eye of William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglas and she began touring the northeast for their anti-slavery group. Her experiences led her to start fighting for women’s rights as well.

This is a work of fiction, based on real people and facts. I loved every page and have already done some quick reading on Lucy and her family, so it inspired me to want to know more. I was swept up in the time period and what is was like for women at the time. I’m so glad that I read more about the women and men fighting the good fight for blacks and women when it was dangerous to do so. An immensely readable and inspiring novel.

The Wisdom of Sundays by Oprah Winfrey
The Wisdom of Sundays: Life-Changing Insights from Super Soul Conversations by Oprah Winfrey

This was my morning reading for over a month. Some mornings I only had time to read two pages, sometimes more, but my day was better either way. I always found ideas and thoughts to add to my journal.

After 200 interviews for her Sunday show, Oprah decided to compile a book with quotes or parts of interviews broken into 10 areas, like intention, forgiveness, and fulfillment. Some of the speakers that went into my journaling were Father Richard Rogers, Deepak Chopra, Thomas Moore, Devon Franklin, Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, Elizabeth Gilbert, Geneen Roth, Glennon Doyle, and many others. You can slide through some random pages I flipped through to take a look.

It’s a beautiful, heartfelt book that’s good for the soul AND would make a great Mother’s Day gift 🌷

Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose
Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose

I saw the 1957 movie, years ago, and was pleasantly surprised that I liked this at least as much. I’d like to see the movie again and do a comparison. The playwright, Rose, wrote the adapted screenplay so it’s probably as true as it can be to the play. My initial thought is that reading it was much easier to digest than the fighting and arguing over each other of the film.

Twelve men walk into a jury room charged with deciding whether a 16 year old boy lives or dies. Initially, only juror 8 (you never learn their names) is the only one who votes not guilty and he’s not even claiming the boy is innocent. Jeers, jokes, and fights ensue. What does it mean to be a juror in the American justice system? Is there justice in the system? Can regular citizens be expected to set aside prejudices and do the right thing (whatever that may be)?

This should be required reading for all and at 74 pages it will only take an hour or two, even less time than it would to watch the movie. A look at prejudice and faith in the ideals of America.

Nomadland by Jessica Bruder
Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder

Before there was Nomadland the Oscar winning movie there was Nomadland:Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder. Older Americans, lost in the shuffle of a changing economy, are forced into making choices they never thought they would be forced to make, including getting rid of their biggest expense, their home. They move about the country in whatever kind of mobile home they could afford, finding jobs by companies that seem intent on taking advantage of them.

These people lived sometimes day to day, finding a place to move their vehicle and having enough food to eat. There is a subculture that Bruder covers well.

My greatest anger was at some of these employers who clearly take advantage of people who have no where else to go. Although Amazon stories have been told there are many others using this mostly older demographic as cheap labor.

While some chose this way of life or learned to embrace the perceived freedom, it was still a sad book. The people were resilient, but we have failed them as a country, vilifying instead of making their lives a little easier.

I both read and listened and much preferred reading. I liked the book but felt it could have been a bit shorter.

Her Stories by Virginia Hamilton
Her Stories: African American Folktales, Fairy Tales, and True Tales by Virginia Hamilton

I read the last Virginia Hamilton book I have checked out of the library, Her Stories: African American Folktales, Fairy Tales, and True Tales, illustrated by Leo & Diane Dillon. If you are reading your children fairy tales, please make sure you add a Hamilton book or two to your list. These are so rich in history, which she does a great job of explaining in a paragraph or two at the end of each chapter, and so different that every child should be to exposed to them. Obviously, when they are of fairy tale age, but also at the time that slavery is introduced in their learning. These stories were passed down from slaves and Virginia makes them easier to read and understand.

Loved this 112 page book of 19 stories as much as I have loved all of her others.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

So, I read this book in my early 20s and fell in love with Jon and his journey to perfection, or Heaven. I’d never read anything like it. Reading it again in my late 40s, having more than doubled the age when I first read it, I’m less enamored with the tale, but still loved its lightness and spiritual exploration. Definitely a fantastical tale worth an hour of your reading time. Your day will be enriched.

Have you read this classic? What did you think of it?

Never Go Back by Lee Child
Never Look Back by Lee Child

This is the book that the second Jack Reacher movie was based on and,no surprise, many changes were made. This is the 18th book in the series and the first one with a hint of Reacher showing positive feelings for a happily ever after or kids. He’s also been recommissioned back into the Army.

This is not the first book to try if you haven’t read the others, too many anomalies from the first 17. But if you’ve read the series it was a fun diversion. I’ve grown to really like Dick Hill’s narration of Reacher and enjoy listening as much as reading these books.

Such Good Reading!

It’s been a fantastic reading and watching week. I loved everything!

3 fiction, 3 Picture books (2 fiction, 1 non-fiction), 1 Non-Fiction, 1 Mystery, 1 Movie

So have you read any of these? What did you think?

Fences (film).png
Fences, 2016 with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. I read the August Wilson play in January and loved it. This was good too, but different. I’ll be writing a post comparing the two next week. Viola Davis won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for this role. Jason and I watched this on our ‘date night’. Not recommended unless you’d like to spend the rest of the evening talking it out while feeling a heavy sense of sadness.
The Push by Ashley Audrain. The Push was our book club choice for the month 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.
Politically Correct Bedtime Stories by James Finn Garner. I read the oldie but goodie, Politically Correct Bedtime Stories, originally published in 1994. I was happy to see how well these stories held up. My favorite was Little Red Riding Hood so I’ll leave you a few quotes…

“One day her mother asked her to take a basket of fresh fruit and mineral water to her grandmother’s house-not because this was women’s work, mind you, but because the deed was generous and helped engender feelings of community.”

“He burst into the house and ate Grandma, an entirely valid course of action for a carnivore such as himself. Then, not hampered by rigid, traditionalist notions of what was masculine or feminine, he put on Grandma’s nightclothes and crawled into bed.”

I chuckled through all 13 stories.
Feels Like Falling by Kristy Woodson Harvey. Feels like Falling should be packed in your summer beach bag. It splits time between two very different women who become friends. One is a recent divorcee and one just left her dead end boyfriend. One is living in one of her million dollar houses for the summer and the other is sleeping in her car. While only 6 years apart the two are decades apart in maturity. I liked it, it tackled serious topics but in a light way, hence the beach recommendation. Gray’s obsession with age got old, but it didn’t ruin the book, just made me like Diana more 😁
National Geographic Backyard Guide to the Night Sky. Check out my thoughts form this week here. (Loved it!)
The Black Book by Ian Rankin. Rebus is a great detective, so good he often rubs people the wrong way. He’s just been kicked out of his girlfriend’s house and moves back to his apartment, one that’s full of subletting students, and his brother fresh from prison. One of his partners ends up in a coma after investigating a five year old murder, so Rebus takes the reins.

This was not my favorite of the series, it took me too long to get invested, but if you love police procedurals, especially those set in different locales, this is a great series.
Ramadan Moon by Na’Ima B Robert. A great, and beautifully illustrated, introduction to Ramadan in a sweet fictional story for kids.
Bobbie: The Wonder Dog by Tricia Brown. Bobbie the Wonder Dog: A True Story starts in 1923 Oregon. On a trip to visit family in Indiana the family dog, Bobbie,runs away. The family is sad to have to leave before finding him, but 6 months later Bobbie shows up at their restaurant back in Oregon, having travelled 2800 miles on his own. He became a countrywide sensation. An adventurous and touching story.

Riding To Washington by Gwenyth Swain. Riding to Washington is about a young white girl’s bus journey to the March on Washington with her dad. She was too little to understand everything and yet was able to convey that she understood the importance of the moment. The author’s father and grandfather made the trip in 1963 and she always imagined what it would have been like to go with them.

Non-Fiction Wins the Week

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!

What Unites Us by Dan Rather
What Unites Us by Dan Rather

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.

It Came from Ohio by R.L. Stine
It Came From Ohio!: My Life as a Writer by R.L.Stine

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.

The Affair by Lee Child
The Affair by Lee Child

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 by Megha Majumdar
A Burning by Megha Majumdar

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 by Richard Paul Evans
The Four Doors by Richard Paul Evans

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.

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People to Talk About Racism by Robin D’Angelo

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.

Jean Laffite by Susan Goldman Rubin
Jean Laffite: The Pirate Who Saved America by Susan Goldman Rubin

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.

Art From Her Heart by Kathy Whitehead
Art From the Heart: Folk Artist Clementine Hunter

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. 

A Penguin Named Patience by Suzanne Lewis
A Penguin Named Patience by Suzanne Lewis

Patience and other penguins at the Audubon Aquarium in New Orleans were rescued during Hurricane Katrina.

The 5 O'Clock Band by Troy Andrews
The 5 O’Clock Band by Troy Andrews

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) 

Time For Kids by Elaine Israel
Jesse Owens: Running Into History

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.

Tecumseh by John Micklos Jr.
Tecumseh by John Micklos Jr.

The book was pretty good, but that cover really does ruin it.

Family Huddle by Peyton Manning
Family Huddle by Payton, Eli and Archie Manning

A book about the Manning family (Archie, Peyton, and Eli) that’s good for young kids who like football. 

April reading is off to a good start

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.

This is my April TBR, I’ve read 8 so far.

Posted in the order I liked them best. These pics are from my Instagram account, so let’s connect there as well! @stacybuckeye

I love the Myron Bolitar series and everyone who loves Myron, most likely, loves his BFF Windsor Horne Lockwood III. With Myron off living his dream, it was time for Win to get his own book.

Win is rich. No, not just rich but like uber elite, you’ll never know anyone this rich, rich. He’s old money (duh, his name) and has a family legacy to protect and questionable morals when it comes to violence and sex. He’s very open about all of this in this first person thriller. Someone’s been murdered with a priceless piece of art stolen from the Lockwoods and also an old suitcase of Win’s at the crime scene. Win steps in, at the behest of an old FBI buddy, to right some wrongs. But what can he find out 20-30 years later?

Win is a different kind of hero and this book was really good. I loved getting to know more about his background and family. And the mysteries were excellent, as always. Another winner by the master.
My book of the day is a beautiful Italian novel so my guys helped me finish the beautiful panoramic Venice puzzle (1000 pieces) we started last week.

A Girl Returned by Donatello Di Pietrantonio (translated by Ann Goldstein) was a fantastic read. I first saw it reviewed by Diane and I’m so glad our library had a copy.😁

A 13 year old has been raised by two loving parents who one day, inexplicably, ‘return’ her to a family she never knew existed. Once a well taken care of only child, she becomes one of six who all sleep in the same room and receive daily abuse from the parents. Told from the girl’s point of view, you can feel her anger, sadness, and confusion.

It’s such an achingly vivid short novel (170 pages) that shouldn’t be missed.
Crumb-Sized: Poems by Marlena Cherrock was a lovely way to start the National Poetry Month. Cherrock shares her experience with skeletal dysplasia, which is why she was called crumb-sized on the playground. She also talks about space and her (our) place in it.

I’m not typically a poetry reader, but I loved this little collection. It was full of hope and pain, you know, life. I read about a life that is different than my own, yet completely recognizable.

I’m positive I’ll be picking this up to read again. I loved the smaller, crumb-sized, size of the book and the way they separated the poems inside, reminding me of a clock and the rings of a tree. It was perfectly done.
Let me tell you about a lady from Ohio, Virginia Hamilton. The young reader’s biography by Rubin came through the library cast offs and I thought I’d take a look. I read the 100+ page book in one sitting and felt true embarrassment that I really hadn’t known anything about this treasure from my state. She won nearly every award in her field and became the most honored author of children’s literature ever. She was a rock star, speaking and accepting awards around the world before her death in 2002.

As soon as I finished the bio I read 3 of the picture books I had checked out. They. Are. Beautiful. The way that Hamilton wrote stories about African American fables and stories that she first heard at her grandpa’s knee was groundbreaking at the time. I adored the stories, the artwork, and most especially the page at the end of each one telling the history of each story.

The People Could Fly was the first tale in her American black folktales book by the same name and was published as a stand-alone picture book after her death.

The Girl Who Spun Gold is a West Indies retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. Bruh Rabbit and the Tar Baby Girl was another story from Plantation era storytellers and published after her death.
When Birds Could Talk and Bats Could Sing. These stories were first collected by Martha Young who had grown up on plantations where her father kept slaves. After the Civil War they became house servants. Young became Alabama’s most well-known collector of black folktales. Hamilton has taken the tongue-twisting dialect and turned them into a collection of easy-to-read animal stories.

I loved it. Why is the male cardinal red? Why is the bat ugly and why can’t he sing? Why does the swallow look the way she does? Will the buzzard ever get his just desserts? These questions and more are answered! 😆

I love reading Virginia Hamilton’s African American folktales and look forward to more.
Annie Oakley (Phoebe Ann Mosey) was born and raised in Ohio before marrying Frank Butler at 15. The two sharpshooters then began touring the country in their very own show before eventually joining the biggest traveling show at the time, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, in 1885. She traveled the world and became a household name everywhere she went. A far cry from her humble beginnings when at the age of 9 her mother had to send her to the Darke County Infirmary to work for room and board.

She was a woman ahead of her time to be sure. She was the best at what she did (shooting), knew how to sell herself, and loved her life. I loved learning about her later years, especially her 55 libel cases against newspapers who smeared her good name. She won 54 cases, but collected less than the legal fees. She wasn’t interested in the money, only the truth being told. Loved getting to know her better with Gage and Razzi 🙂
Perfectly Matched by Heather Webber (also known as Heather Blake) is the 4th in the Lucy Valentine series. As much as I love Lucy and her psychic abilities AND her first 3 books, this one just had too many psychics running around. There were 5 Boston psychic in this one competing/helping Lucy and the arsons involving Sean’s past made this one a disappointment. I’m hoping the 5th and final one brings everything to a happy conclusion.
In honor of Easter I read this little gift book by Joyce Meyer, The Power of Being Positive: Enjoying God Forever. Each page had a verse from the Bible and thoughts on how it affects your life. It dressed how important it is to fill your mind and heart with positivity because that’s what God wants. That part of the message worked for me, a few of the other things not so much. It was a quick read.

Reading Great Books

It was a fantastic reading week! 6 kids picture books (4 fiction, 2 non-fiction), 2 kids non-fiction, 1 non-fiction, 1 historical fiction, 1 fiction, 1 mystery,

I loved the Dictionary for a Better World so much I bought a copy for us to keep. We Should All Be Feminists was a great book AND TED Talk. I loved learning about Hedy Lamarr and I loved catching up with series favorite Mrs. Pollifax. I loved reading about a wintery and it’s soap opera like plots. I’ve loved starting our Ohio history unit with Gage. I’m on a reading roll and I like it!

Dictionary For a Better World
I love this book so much! Gage and I have been reading 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 is 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 is 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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We Should All Be Feminists

This is an adaptation from Adiche’s Nigerian TED talk and it breathed new life into the word feminist. When people who are against something try to make the word or anyone who associated with it a slur it always leads to small minded thinking and division.

Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.

This was the definition she grew up with and included. And she’s right, we should all be feminists. Everyone has time to read this one or watch the TED Talk on YouTube.

The Only Woman in the Room

Hedwig Keisler, an Austrian stage actress, caught the eye of a powerful ammunition manufacturer when she was just 19. Marrying him was one way to keep her Jewish family safe since Hitler was starting Jewish eradication in Germany. The marriage was not a good one.

A daring escape led her to Hollywood where she earned a living the only way she knew how and became the legendary Hedy Lamarr. She also invented a frequency-hopping spread spectrum with the help of composer George Antheil. While the Navy didn’t use it for the war, it was used later by the military.

A fascinating woman who has me wanting to know more. Well done!

Eight Hundred Grapes

A fun, quick, soapy read that I devoured in no time. And I drank wine while doing it. 🍇🍷
Georgia shows up at her family’s Sonoma County vineyard in her wedding dress, having abandoned LA in the middle of her dress fitting. In short order she finds out her parents are taking time apart, her brothers are fighting, and her father’s selling the family business. Oh, and she’s not talking to her fiancé who she is marrying in a week. So much drama and I was there for it all.

Mrs. Pollifax on the China Station

This is my 11th Mrs. Pollifax (only 3 left!) and, except for the first one, it’s probably my favorite. Emily Pollifax happened into her top secret life as a CIA spy when she was older, widowed, and with two grown children. She lives her life as a quiet garden enthusiast but sometimes gets a call for a mission that needs her aged wisdom.

In this book she’s taxed with getting into China and ferreting out information from an unsuspecting dissident and then getting that info to her partner in crime who remains a mystery. Then the struggle to get out of China with a person of interest under the watchful eye of the police.

Of course trouble ensues and therein lies the fun. Emily takes no prisoners and gains admirers everywhere she goes. She’s a grandma with a plan, hope, and a twinkle in her eye.

The Last Black King of the Kentucky Derby: The Story of Jimmy Winkfield

As someone who knew nothing about horse racing and the role of slavery at its inception, I learned so much (and so did Razzi). The very first Kentucky Derby in 1875 had 14 black jockeys to just one white. This would reverse itself in the early 1900s.

The Last Black King of the Kentucky Derby is the story of Jimmy ‘Wink’ Winkfield. The 17th child of sharecroppers in Kentucky he went on to become one of the premier jockeys, narrowly losing what would have been his 3rd Kentucky Derby win in a row in 1903.

Kids will love the illustrations and descriptions of the races and the older folks will love the extra historical information before and after the story. Loved it.

Ohio

Ohio is sometimes called the Mother of Presidents because 7 of them were born here. Neil Armstrong and John Glenn too. The Wright brothers flew their plane at Kitty Hawk but made it here. Doris Day, Clark Gable, Paul Newman, Halle Berry, and Steven Spielberg are all Buckeyes. Gloria Steinem, Toni Morrison, and Thomas Edison all born here too.

We’re the 7th largest state by population, but 34th by total area, so we’re not all flat farmland. The 3 C’s (Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati) have much Midwest goodness to share.

I remember doing an Ohio history unit in the 4th grade and look forward to sharing some home state pride with Gage.

Remember: The Journey to School Integration. The Tortoise or the Hare. Little Cloud and Lady Wind. Peeny Butter Fudge. Please Louise.

Toni Morrison is from Lorain, Ohio so we learned a little bit more about her yesterday and spent some time at the end of our school day reading some of the picture books she’d written with her son Slade. (except for the first, Remember)

Remember: The Journey to School Integration has historical photos and text written by Morrison to tell the story of that time in the south. Swipe through to see a few of the pages. It’s just the right length to share with older elementary kids. The actual photos make it more real for Gage.

Gage’s favorite picture book was a the Tortoise or the Hare, a retelling of the classic fable. My favorite was Please, Louise where she shares the magic of libraries. Morrison’s bio in the back even mentions he high school job as a page in the Lorain Library.

Back on Track with Books

I’d like to do these book posts on Fridays, so no time like the present, even if I did just post an update earlier this week. After 71 days this year I’ve finished 79 books and two bookish movies. If you have any recommendations for good one day books let me know!

Here’s what I read in the second half of this week. 2 Picture books (1 fiction, 1 non-fiction), 1 Kids book (non-fiction, 1 Mystery, and 1 Graphic Memoir.

Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos by Lucy Knisley is on loan from the library. I loved this book! I’ve read a few of her other graphic memoirs, but this may be my favorite so far.

Knisley has always wanted a child. When the time came for her and her husband it didn’t go according to plan. After two miscarriages, infertility visits , and lots of research, her dream was realized. Only that didn’t go as planned either.

This book covers so much! Sex Ed, historical views on the womans’ body, infertility, pregnancy, childbirth, and many of the things you don’t know until you know. Having suffered a miscarriage and pre-eclampsia (although mine was correctly diagnosed and not life-threatening) her experiences spoke to me.

Perfect for any friend even thinking about getting pregnant!
Gage and I read Going Up! Elisha Otis’s Trip To the Top by Monica Kulling and illustrated by David Parkins. It’s a short picture book about how Elisha’s childhood on the farm influenced him and his creation of the safety brake for elevators. No one was interested In his passenger elevator until a demonstration at New York City’s World Fair in 1854 convinced people it could be safe. The first elevator installed in NYC in the 1850’s still works today and the Otis Elevator Company is still around. Quite a legacy!

I also finished up I is for Innocent in Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone series. Kinsey is helping a lawyer friend prep for a civil trial by doing some last minute investigating when she begins to doubt the identity of the murderer. I listened to most of this and found all of the characters hard to track at first, but I really liked the resolution of the plotlines. I’m enjoying reading my way through this mystery series.
 The Paper Kingdom by Helena Ku Rhee. I actually read this back in January but couldn’t mention it until my time as a @cybilsawards judge was over. We used it for what we’re now calling Reading With Razzi. First, the illustrations are gorgeous. Such a beautiful book. The story is about a young boy who must go to work with his parents at night because the sitter is unavailable. They are night janitors and tell their son fantastic tales of the people who work there. Based on the author’s own childhood this is heartfelt and engaging.
Gage read Daring Amelia by Barbara Lowell to me and Razzi. He doesn’t like to read out loud, but we must to get/keep his reading up to speed. He actually thanked me yesterday when I gave him this as his reading because it was below his level and therefore easy for him. It was a win for me because I actually learned a few new things about Amelia Earhart and he did his reading happily. Every day doesn’t have to be a reading struggle 😁

March 1-9

I’m working on a post about our trip, but want to get the easy part done first. I am sooooo glad to be home working on my computer!

For Women’s History Month my reading goal is to read women I have a history with at least once a day, the one exception being the Mike Fiorito book for the TLC book tour.

I read and watched Murder On the Orient Express this last week. We watched the 2017 film with Kenneth Branaugh as Hercules Peroit and I actually thought it had a chance to be better than the book, which I thought was ok but not great. Unfortunately, although it made changes to make it more exciting onscreen it still failed to wow me.

I read 9 books – 2 mysteries, 1 each of picture books, thriller, memoir, kids fiction, sci-fi, historical romance, and fiction.

The books in the order I liked them best…

I adore Susanna Kearsley and her most recent book is a collaboration with three other women, none of whom I’ve read before. I’m going to ruin the surprise and tell you that I loved this. The Deadly Hours by Susanna Kearsley, CS Harris, Anna Lee Huber, & Christina Trent



There once was a watch made from cursed gold and it ruined the lives of all who touched it. The four women seamlessly tell the tale of the watch, from its inception in 1700s Spain (Kearsley), to 1831 Scotland (Huber), 1870 London (Trent), and finally to 1944 Kent (Harris). The authors use characters from their previous books or series which will make their readers happy, but didn’t confuse me when I wasn’t familiar. It only made me want to read more about them.

I’ve read most of Dorothy Gilman’s Mrs. Pollifax series and continue to do so as I find them. Her memoir came through the library donations – a used copy with a name written in the front cover, covered with protective tape, and two post it notes stuck in the back telling a friend why this was her favorite book. It’s been well loved and has found a new home.

Gilman divorced her husband, raised her two sons alone, and found herself at a crossroads when she sent her last son to college. She took the bold move of buying 10 acres in Nova Scotia and making the harsh landscape her home. She speaks of lobsterman, herbs, growing her own food, living in a small, closed community, the isolation of living alone, and does it all with the words of someone who has thought about her place in the world.

A New Kind of Country took place in the 1970’s and while it’s somewhat dated, the truth of a single woman’s role still rings true. This was perfect reading for Women’s History Month.
We listened to Double Fudge by Judy Blume on the way home from our Tennessee trip. We read Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, the first Fudge book, last month and this 5th and last book about Peter and Fudge was perfect family listening. Peter is now in the 7th grade and Fudge is in kindergarten and OBSESSED with money. He has a money song, a new best friend named Rich, and his own Fudge Bucks that he tries to spend around town. He also meets a family member with his name who is just as much trouble as he is.

Judy Blume is so tuned in to the kid mind. I loved her as a child and love reading her books with Gage 40 years later just as much. Even Jason laughed at Fudge’s exploits 😁
Falling From Trees by Mike Fiorito is a fun collection of sci-fi stories about aliens, communication through dreams, colors and images, longevity, climate change consequences and the journey between space and time. I enjoyed my few hours with these interconnected stories. Each one with something new to consider. Dystopian but not in a dreary way. The stories were short, some only a few pages, but the imagery came through.
I listened to Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express read by Dan Stevens. Hercules Poirot is always fun for all of his pompousness and the train whodunit was told at just the right pace. It wasn’t my favorite of hers, but I always appreciate her ability to say so much with fewer words than most and the thoughtfulness of the mystery itself. There’s a reason Christie is still the master after all these years.
I managed to finish High Treason At the Grand Hotel: A Fiona Figg Mystery by Kelly Oliver. I read the first in the series in January and liked it. Fiona is working at the London War Office during WWII and has been given the opportunity to continue her spying, something she’s not trained for but has come to love. She heads to Paris and runs into all kinds of old friends and a few new ones who meet unfortunate ends.

I like that Fiona bucks the tradition of the day and her obsession with being in disguise. She seemed to have more confidence in her ability to fool professionals than was warranted this time around. Fiona is a fun character who finds herself in crazy situations.

I love the covers of The Ravenels series by Lisa Kleypas. There is always a gorgeous gown that I would love to try on (in the appropriate size after I’ve lost 20 pounds of course!). Then I’d need a place to wear it. And a suitor/husband that was as rich as Jeff Bezos and as sexy as David Beckham. Oh, and I’d need some kind of heavy duty makeover so that I’d stop men in their tracks. There. I think I’ve summed up the series for you!

Chasing Cassandra begins with Cassandra watching her twin sister marry the richest man she knows. She’s upset because she will be left alone in their family home and then real richest man sees her and wants her. So begins a merry chase between two people who obviously care about each other but find a multitude of ways to stay apart.

I poke fun, but I love this historical romance series! I love that each book has the whole family show up at different points so that we can check in with our favorite couples. If you like this genre I think you’ll like the series. And those beautiful covers can sit on your shelves.
Me For You by Lolly Winston. Rudy woke up one morning to find his beloved wife dead. She had passed unexpectedly in her sleep after a doctor declared her healthy the day before. This book covered his year and a half grieving process that landed him in the hospital psych ward for a bit. His daughter and work crush helped him heal while dealing with their own issues.

I didn’t ever really connect to Rudy like I did to the characters in her first two books, but he grew on me and I was happy to see him get a second chance at love. It had some good insight about depression and grieving.
Gage and I read The Night Gardener by the Fan brothers. The story about neighbors that came together over unexpected overnight creations was a little short on details. It’s the topiary creations that steal the show. This was a quick read that sparked the imagination, especially now during this time of finding ways to bring a community together safely.

February Wrap Up

I’m still not home, but I don’t want to get too far behind in recording my thoughts and favorites, however brief this may be.
I read 32 books in February. Picture books 8 (5 non-fiction, 3 fiction), Fiction 4, Plays 3, Thrillers 3, Non-fiction 3, Kids fiction 3, Kids non-fiction 3, Historical romances 2, Memoir 1, Short stories 1, YA 1.

My top 5 books of the month- Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward, Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, Kindred by Octavia Butler, Fences by August Wilson, and The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. So much goodness in all of these!

In March for Women’s History Month I’ll be changing the theme to Women I Have History With Month and reading books by some of my favorite women authors.


To finish up my February recaps of authors of color, here are my last seven.

Kindred is one of those books that was about more than it first appeared to be. Dana found herself transported from 1970s California to 1815 Maryland at any time with no control over when or if it will happen. What is a time travel tale becomes a examination on the making of a slave. Don’t miss it.

A Raisin In the Sun is one of those classics that has passed be by until now. I loved this play and look forward to checking out the movie about the Younger family of South Side Chicago.

Toni Morrison never disappoints and I was drawn into the lives of the Money brother and sister as they navigated post war and post abuse life.

A strange and compelling Nigerian thriller. Love this cover!

A fun read with Gage as we learned more about the legend.

I liked this book about civil rights legend Rosa Parks, but wish there had been more. It felt a little incomplete. I adored the illustrations though.

This was a fun read with Gage. Lots of it went over his head (but I laughed) and much of it was too silly for words (and he laughed) so it had a little something for both of us.

So Many Good Books

We have just finished week two of our retreat to a Tennessee lake house with still more than a week to go. We were on the edge of the polar vortex mess that crippled much of the country so our time here hasn’t been what I’d hoped. I also fell on the icy road and my head bounced off the ground 🙁 (I’m fine). But, this is why we chose this place…



Even during all of the snow and freezing temps this was the sunset from our deck a few days ago. We are too isolated for this city girl (seriously, the roads were impassable until today) but this view is one I could get used to taking in for quite a while.

I’m still homeschooling and Jason is still working and we’ve got no complaints. Well, except that I haven’t been able to access my Google account and that means I can’t comment on a lot of your blogs when I visit, but know that I am visiting! I have to do this on our iPad which I’m finding to be a bit of a pain.


The books I’ve finished since my last update in the order I liked them, but there really wasn’t a dud in the lot of them.
3 picture books, 2 kids books, 2 non-fiction, 1 thriller, 1 historical romance, 1 play, 1 novel, 1 short story collection, and 1 young adult.

If you somehow missed this beautifully brutal book about 14 year old Esch and her family in the days leading up to Hurricane Katrina, do yourself a favor and find a copy. Be warned that there is a gruesome dog fighting scene that will likely disturb most.

Another one that took me too long to read. This is a must read for everyone. Justice isn’t blind and there are angels among us fighting the good fight. Powerful book.

Gage and I read this together and I’d love to be able to take him to see the memorial that a middle school created to honor the victims of the Holocaust. There are videos on YouTube if you’re curious.

My first Beverly Jenkins romance but not my last! Loved the post Civil War Wyoming setting and the wildly independent Spring Lee.

A sad but very powerful picture book about kindness.

Slavery from the mouths of slaves. This award winner compiles compelling first hand accounts from slaves before, during, and after the Civil War and provides context.

A great picture book about the life of playwright August Wilson. For the older elementary crowd. He earned a diploma from a library, need I say more?

I loved this picture book about a minister who started with bringing in a few boys from the cold and ended up starting an orphanage and founding a world renowned band. Inspiring.

These are such great books to read together, especially since Gage is more interested in non-fiction. He’s making me way smarter 😁

I’m not a big short story fan, but I really liked this collection of eight stories about the Haitian American experience.

This was a quiet story of generational family relationships.

After loving Fences so much I thought I’d try another from Wilson’s Century Collection. I’m guessing that I’ll be reading the last eight before the year is out. I wish I’d started with the first and read them in order since they each represent a decade of the 1900s, this one being the 1940s contribution.

This was another entry into the stranded island mystery genre with more than a few shades of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. Fun thriller.

Catching Up

It’s already the 10th and I haven’t told you what I’ve been reading. We’ve ‘moved’ to a house on a lake in Tennessee for a bit, so that took some strategic planning since Jason is still working and I’m still homeschooling Gage. I’ve amazed myself that I have, on day 40, been able to keep up with my book a day challenge. The weight loss, not as much success, but I’m not giving up on that. I’m sure I’ll post more details about our getaway at some point, but for now I’ll just talk books 😀

4 picture books, 2 kids books, 2 non-fiction, 1 thriller, 1 Young adult, 1 historical romance, 1 screenplay. Yes, some days I read two because I committed to reading a book by or about a person of color this month, an additional challenge I’m finding rewarding.

In the order I liked them best…

Such a powerful story. I’m looking forward to watching the movie.
I loved this story of fate and star crossed love. Also looking forward to this movie!
So beautiful in every way, words and illustrations. A perfect read for this month.
It was dated, but Gage and I loved it anyway (well until that Dribble tragedy). Fun sharing one of my childhood favorites with him.

I didn’t know anything about the Children’s March in 1965 that led to thousands of kids being jailed, including Audrey who was nine. Powerful and inspiring.
A great memoir by the first black woman editor-in-chief in the Condé Nast magazine family.
I’m a NYC lover so this book made me happy.
A surprising romance set during the Civil War in the South between a black woman and white man.
Lots of buzz about this thriller about gentrification and I liked it.
We listened to these 10 short stories on our road trip and really liked most of them and a few I’m still thinking about. In a good way!
I’m glad I read it, but I can’t say I enjoyed it. It was definitely worth the few hours of reading and the new considerations on race that it inspired.
Arthur Ashe was such an inspirational person, but this picture book was mainly for tennis lovers.