Migrations Across Borders

Trying to be better about logging my books!

Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy, 4.25 out of 5 stars, 256 pages, pub. 2020

Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy is our book club read for this month. I had no interest in it during the first bit of listening, but the slow moving story grew on me as it weaved between past and present. It’s one that I’m sure will benefit from a group discussion.

Franny is desperate to find a boat to help her find the last of the Arctic terns as they make their last migration. We feel her despair even though we don’t understand it until the very end of the book when we learn of her past. Frankie was a complicated character, both heroic and prickly, and always, it seemed, utterly true to herself.

I don’t know if I liked it because I went in with such low expectations or if the underlying environmental theme drew me in, but either way I think this will stick with me for a while. And I look forward to our book club discussion.

Drawn Across Borders: True Stories of Human Migration by George Butler, 4 out of 5 stars, 56 pages, published 2021

My friend Diane (Bibliophile by the Sea) sent this to Gage a few months ago, but I’m the first one reading it! I’m curious to see how it works as a kids book because I loved the heartbreaking insight into the tragedy of loss and the beautiful art.

Artist George Butler made his way across war zones and refugee camps to document the people he found there. Looking for the many reasons people choose or are forced to move from their homes to places where they are often unwelcome. The places he visited were in Europe or the Middle East and I was captivated by how much could be gleaned from 4 pages about each place.

I wanted more detail and more stories, but as a book for older kids it worked. A great book to consider what makes a person a refuge or migrant.

The Sensory Team Handbook by Nancy Mucklow, 4,5 out of 5 stars for Teens, 180 pages, pub. 2009

This is a great book for preteens/teens who have any kind of sensory issue. It is a positive book with enough science to explain what is going on in their bodies without being overwhelming. It’s full of easy at home weekly and daily exercises to help them gain more control of their body. Will be so useful for many.

What You Must Know About the Hidden Dangers of Antibiotics by Jay S. Cohen, 3.5 out of 5 stars, 144 pages, pub. 2018

Gage has had too many antibiotics in his few years and finding an alternative is sometimes possible, but always more time consuming.

This book is about the family of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones, (Cipro, Levaquin, and others), but I found it’s usefulness beyond that. Author Jay S. Cohen, MD did a good job in laying out the many supplements that are helpful not only for people injured by these antibiotics, but also for those just trying to heal from other toxicity.

*there are times when antibiotics are the only answer, yes.*

Shirley Chisholm Dared: The Story of the First Black Woman in Congress by Alicia D Williams and April Harrison, 4.25 out of 5 stars, 48 pages, pub. 2021

Loved this book about Shirley with its overriding message of persistence.

The Eye That Never Sleeps: How Detective Pickerton Saved President Lincoln by Marissa Moss and Jeremy Holmes, 4 out of 5 stars, 48 pages, pub. 2018

A story I’ve never heard before about the threat to Lincoln’s life before he became president. I liked the illustrations, but they were very busy.

Peter Pan: A Graphic Novel by Blake Hoena and Fernando Cano, 1.5 out of 5 stars, 72 pages, pub. 2016

Um. just no.

The latest Harlan Coben and Elizabeth Chudleigh

The Duchess Countess.
Let’s talk about a rather infamous woman from from the Georgian Era for Women’s History Month. Elizabeth Chudleigh was a woman who learned how to use her considerable assets to gain security and influence. In the mid 1750s women had make an advantageous marriage and Elizabeth managed to do that, twice and at the same time.

She was a strong-willed woman who knew what she wanted and no shortage of men willing to provide it. She made a hasty marriage when she was young and a well-suited one when she was in her middle years. When she becomes a widow she still has a husband left.

This biography was dense and well annotated, so I really got a sense for the customs and politics of the day and all the players involved. Because of that it wasn’t a fast read, but I suppose if you were more familiar with her or her story this might read a little easier.

She was fearless, but with vulnerabilities too. A fascinating woman.

Thanks to Atria Books for sending me a copy of this book.

The Match.
Wilde, The Boy In the Woods, is back. It’s a few months after the first book ended and he’s managed to track down his father via an online DNA database. He also finds someone he believes to be his brother. Only neither one is really forthcoming with information for different reasons.

This can be a standalone, but do yourself a favor and read The Boy in the Woods first. You’ll want to know more about Wilde. All of the great characters from that book are back as is an additional guest from another Coben novel, The Stranger.

No one does thrillers quite like Harlan Coben and his latest is the sequel to Wilde’s story that I’d hoped he write.

Wilde survived in the woods on his own as a very young child, so Gage and I took this book on a walk in the woods and discussed how likely that would be. We decided you’d have to be extremely 🍀, but today is a lucky day, so anything is possible!

Loved it and am looking forward to more Wilde in the future.

Picture Books for Black History Month

Another installment of our picture book reading this month.

❤️ Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills was so fantastic. I loved the story and the illustrations.❤️

❤️ The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage. I always like sharing these kinds of stories with Gage so I can see his complete shock that anyone would think it’s okay to tell people who they can and can’t marry. We ARE making progress. ❤️

❤️Sisters & Champions: The True Story of Venus and Serena Williams. We’ve read a few books about these powerhouse women and this one was really good. ❤️

❤️ Follow Chester!: A College Football Team Fights Racism and Makes History. Perfect for Gage’s Super Bowl reading 😁

❤️ Opal Lee and What It Means To Be Free: The True Story of the Grandmother of Juneteenth.

Sing a Song: How Lift Every Voice and Sing” Inspired Generations

This is the Rope: A Story From the Great Migration by Jaqueline Woodson

Sweet People Are Everywhere by Alice Walker. I like the idea, but needed more.

Visiting Langston by Willie Perdomo and Bryan Collier. There wasn’t much of a story but we loved the illustrations.

Cybils Award Winners

Cybils Awards
The Cybils Awards announced their winners this week, so make sure to check out all of the category finalists and winners.

I had the honor of being a finals judge for the Cybils Awards again this year for both board books and picture books. The five of us exchanged a flurry of emails after we’d read these 7 finalist board books and chose a winner…

🎉Big Bear, Little Bear by Marine Schneider was universally loved and a perfect book to read and reread with your wee babes. Simple and sweet with touches of humor, it has a nostalgic feel that’s sure to please. 🎉

The other finalists were also fantastic and I can easily recommend all of them for the 0-3 crowd.
❤️ Comparrotives by Janik Coat (I was so charmed by this parrot!)
❤️ Circle Under Berry by Carter Higgins was Gage’s favorite.
❤️ Animals Go Vroom by Abi Cushman had a fun animal story with peekaboo pages.
❤️This is Still Not a Book by Jean Jullian was full of whimsy with funny pictures and pull up pages.
❤️Turn Seek Find Habitats by Ben Newman is a new take on hidden picture fun with the turn of a wheel changing what you seek every time through.
❤️ Caution! Road Signs Ahead by Toni Buzzeo and Chi Birmingham is an easy choice for your car loving toddlers with big road signs and what they mean.

For the Picture Books category we had 7 fabulous choices and between the 5 of us finalist judges we chose…

🎉 Watercress by Andrea Wang and Jason Chin 🎉 This has won many awards this past year for good reason. A quiet story with heart and an important message. Eat weeds for dinner that your family picked on the side of the road? That’s a tough sell for any kid. This was my and our favorite.

Other finalists
❤️ Someone Builds the Dream by Lisa Wheeler and Loren Long ❤️ I loved this one almost as much but for different reasons. Want to teach your kid to celebrate everyone who contributes to building bridges or rides or parks? This is your book!
❤️ Bodies Are Cool by Tyler Feder❤️. Every child needs to spend some time with this book. Seriously. This book celebrates every body type you can imagine. I can’t recommend this one enough for body diversity awareness. And it’s really fun too!
❤️ The Midnight Fair by Gideon Sterer and Mariachiara Di Giorgio❤️ This story of animals taking over the fair at night has no words and doesn’t need them. Loved it.
❤️ Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem by Amanda Gorman and Loren Long. Beautifully celebrates the difference one child can make in the world.
❤️Itty-Bitty Kitty Corn by Shannon Hale and Leiden Pham. Cat or unicorn lovers will want this one.
❤️ Arlo Draws An Octopus by Lori Mortensen and Rob Sayegh Jr, is perfect for any budding artists out there.

Have you read any of these?

Black History Month Kids Picture Books, pt.2

It’s been another great week for picture books! I’ll list them in the order I liked them best and give you a few thoughts. In the morning as we start our day I read a picture book (I sometimes make him read, but the morning goes a lot better for everyone if I don’t make him ‘work’ first thing, lol). Sometimes we just talk about the story or the time in history and sometimes we explore more with writing or videos. He always has to sum it up or include important points in his journal. All in all, most days it takes 10-25 minutes.

The Other Side
The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson and E.B. Lewis, 32 pages, pub. 2003

I love this writing/illustrating duo. Their books are timeless even if they seem like a quaint story of a time gone by. Clover is told that she has to stay on her side of the fence because white people lived on the other side and blacks stayed on their side. But one summer she always saw a girl sitting ON the fence and in time made her way to the top of the fence too. I adored this book and the hope it gives for the children of today paving the way to a better future.

Trombone Shorty
Trombone Shorty by Troy “Trombone Shorty”Andrews and Bryan Collier, 40 pages, pub. 2015

It didn’t take us long to realize that this book overlapped with The 5 O’Clock Band that we read last year. This was more about a moment with Bo Diddley that Andrews had when he was just a young boy with a beat up trombone he found on the street. Gage loved this true moment in time and we had fun with the photos in the back. Loved it. As always, Collier sparkles as an illustrator.

Let's Talk about Race
Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester and Karen Barbour, 32 pages, pub. 2005

This eye-catching book is a great starting point for a discussion about race. It starts with the story everyone has and how it’s impossible to know the whole of anyone if we just look at the outside. He uses the example of shedding our skin as we move through life and how preferable that would be. Wouldn’t that be lovely? Unfortunately, that isn’t the world we live in so a real conversation must happen after the book is done. But it was visually appealing and a conversation starter.

Ellen's Broom
Ellen’s Broom by Kelly Starling Lyons and Daniel Minter, 32 pages, pub. 2012

Ellen’s parents and others celebrate when it becomes legal for them to be married in the eyes of the government. Until then, jumping the broom was the way slaves married. I loved the celebration of new beginnings and progress being made. It didn’t have as much detail about the tradition as I would have liked, but it was a good starting point and I loved the illustrations.

When Langston Dances
When Langston Dances by Kaija Langley and Keith Mallett, 40 pages, pub. 2021

This inspiring story of a boy finding the courage to do something unexpected is gorgeously illustrated. Langston was good at basketball, but he ADORED dancing. A sweet story sure to appeal to younger kids.

Lift Your Light a Little Higher: The Story of Stephen Bishop: Slave-Explorer
Lift Your Light a Little Higher: The Story of Stephen Bishop Slave-Explorer by Heather Henson and Bryan Collier, 32 pages, pub. 2016

I liked the idea of this book based on the few details about the man that we know. Stephen was of several slaves who gave tours of Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. The cave is the biggest in the world and he made a few discoveries during his 20 years. The story was a little to little for me to really love it, but the history at the back was interesting.

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Flying Free: How Bessie Coleman’s Dreams Took Flight by Karyn Parsons and R. Gregory Christie, 48 pages, pub. 2020

The first black woman to get her pilot’s license in 1921 had to go to France to learn to fly. I loved the additional pages with timelines and photos in the back It was also fun to read about this period because of how it relates to Jason’s great grandfather who learned to fly in this era.

Where has December gone?

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

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

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

I thought the audio was excellent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catching up after a Buckeye loss

My Buckeyes lost to the the Wolverines for the first time in 10 years. The Game was a depressing one to watch for OSU fans. I’m an alum who bleeds scarlet & gray, but give props to The Team Up North, they showed up to play!

So, what better time to avoid the TV and all the upset excitement than to update you on my reading?

I listened to The Fallen, #4 of the Amos Decker series by David Balducci. It’s not the newest, but I’m listening in order. Amos and Jamison are visiting her sister and Amos wastes no time in finding dead bodies. He does what he does and uncovers one conspiracy after another. Great listen, especially if you are familiar with run down towns suffering from the opioid crisis.

I’m still reading and journaling Comfortable with Uncertainty by Pena Chodron. I go through stretches where I choose sleeping in to getting up early and doing meditative reading. Lately, I’ve been able to get up even just 15 minutes before my kid and that’s made a huge difference to the quality of my day. Coffee and quiet for even just a few minutes makes a happy mama.

Are you a donut fan? I LOVE donuts. The only way you can ruin a donut is by putting coconut or sprinkles on it 🤮

Two graphic novels about two very different artists. Starving artist isn’t just a clever phrase, it was the truth for both of them.

Let’s start with Basquiat by Palio Parisi because that’s the one I read first. I love this cover! He used these same colors the entire book. Jean Michel Basquiat wanted to be a star. He wanted to be famous and he worked hard on the streets of New York City to make that happen. He came into the money and fame but never kicked the drugs that would kill him at 27. It was a good snapshot of his short adult life.

Monet: Itinerant of Light by Salva Rubio and EFA was a more comprehensive book, but, jeez, it sure soured me on Monet the man. This felt like a real biography, from what they chose to include and how they chose to tell his story in pictures and words. Monet was always broke, well except when he made a few bucks and lived large for short periods of time. He seemed to be clueless about many things, but he was unwavering in his belief in his art. I LOVED this book. The man, not so much.
This week we are learning about Oklahoma and we read the picture book Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre. A beautiful book that tells about an event in America’s history that hasn’t really gotten talked about until the last few years. Well done. The discussion and additional reading we did really upset Gage. I could’ve skipped it because it was upsetting, but isn’t that where the real learning and change happens? Yes, it is.

I thought that the Black History in its Own Words from my graphics novel stack would pair nicely with Unspeakable. It’s a collection of creative portraits with very short quotes by a wide range of artists and leaders. It even included one of Basquiat who I talked about yesterday.
The Thirsty Mermaids is about three mermaids who’ve enjoyed the alcohol they’ve found at the bottom of the sea so much that they decide to change into humans so they can find more. These are not your normal 🧜‍♀️. I didn’t love the art but the mermaids grew on me and I ended up liking the lighthearted humor and story of friendship. 256 pages

Bubble is based on a podcast. I’m not familiar with it but wonder if that might have helped me like it. The first little bit had potential and I liked Mitch the weird guy with the power to destroy whatever he wanted, but the constant one-liners took away from a real plot for me. This banter on a podcast would probably work. I liked the art and the sci-fi setting. 272 pages
Malibu Rising is the story of four siblings and their their parents. As an only child the bond between siblings is always fascinating to me so this reeled me in right away. I loved the multiple points of view and the early 80s California setting.

The fact that this 1980s book is in the historical fiction category makes me feel ancient. It had an 80’s vibe but didn’t really feel like a historical novel. Well, except that no one has cell phones so maybe that’s all it takes these days.

I really liked this story of the the Riva family and was happy with the way things wrapped up for the kids.
I’ve had The Four Winds on my shelf for a while, knowing that it was going to be a hard read emotionally. It’s nomination finally got me to pick it up. It took me quite a while to get involved in the story as it was very slow. Elsa, rejected by her family, gets pregnant, forcing the young man who was on his way to college to stay on the farm and marry her. It’s the 1930s Texas and drought and dust crush everything in their path. The story really begins when Elsa dares imagine a better life for her and her kids. This was a heavy book and to see Elsa grow and raise a spirited daughter in such impossible times made this a great read. I shed some tears and am still glad I read/listened to it.

Dune: The Graphic Novel, Book 1 I had already checked out of the library to read for this month. I knew nothing about Dune, no clue or interest in what it was about, but did see the promos for the new movie. This was adapted into a graphic novel by Brian Herbert (son of Dune author Frank Herbert) and Kevin Anderson. Because it’s adapted by his son I have to think it’s faithful to the original. This was well done and once I got myself focused it was easy to follow even for a newbie like me. Sci-fi politics, magical powers, and environmental responsibility make a timeless tale that still rings true, even if takes place on another planet. I really liked this one and look forward to the second installment.

I ❤️ both of these graphic novels! So different and, yet both so good.

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg didn’t exactly draw me in at first because of its strangeness, but after the baby who was made into three boys grew up and came back together again I was hooked. As he went on his journey from the top of the world to the bottom I was captivated. You’ll recognize our shared stories in his storytelling, from Adam and Eve to Noah to the Tower of Babel. It’s full of humor, irreverence, magic, and outstanding artwork. This is a surprise favorite for me so far this month. 176 pages.

I admit I picked up Klaus for the cover alone 😍. The story of Klaus, boy found in his dead mother’s frozen arms, is one from legends. I loved the art and the story. There was a proper villain, violence, and a monster, but there was redemption and love too. A fitting read for the Christmas season. 208 pages.
I listened to Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby and LOVED the narration by Adam Lazarre-White. His rich voice made the story of two fathers coming to terms with the deaths of their sons come alive. There was more violence and also more soul searching than I anticipated going in. I really like this one.

I read the first Persepolis a few months ago and loved the creative way Marjane told the story of the Irna revolution and aftermath. This second graphic memoir was about her 4 year abroad and what finally brought her back home. I liked this one a lot too!

The Mailbox in the Forest is a new children’s book with cute story and lovely illustrations Mayu is a first grader staying with her grandparents over the winter break. Her grandparents inexplicably allow her to go into the forest by herself during the days and she finds a mysterious mailbox.

A story about the joys of letter writing and friendships with people different than them. At just over 70 pages it’s a nice length for younger readers, but be prepared to explain why you aren’t letting them spend the day in the forest by themselves.

I’ve included our latest postcard all the way from Russia (thanks postcrossing!). Love all of the stamps ❤️

I can feel the end of my book a day challenge coming. I’ve already read 375 books this year and still going strong.

This Week in Graphic Novels

My graphic novels reading month has been going well. In addition to the books below I also listened to 2 audiobooks in series I follow. The Fallen by David Baldacci is #4 of the Amos Decker series. Amos and Jamison are visiting her sister and Amos wastes no time in finding dead bodies. He does what he does and uncovers one conspiracy after another. Great listen, especially if you are familiar with run down towns suffering from the opioid crisis. Night School by Lee Child is #21 of the Jack Reacher series and takes place when he is still in the military. A nice diversion from the nomadic Reacher, but I could have done without the scene involving a woman and mule having relations on a stage for a group of cheering men. That was a real low point of the series for me.

I also reviewed The Good Kings by Kara Cooney for a book tour, Loved it.

We watched the miniseries Midnight Mass on Netflix. Have you seen it? It seemed all eerily sinister in the beginning and then turned absolutely insane. Can’t say I liked it but it was quite a ride.

Days 2 and 3 of my graphic novel reading have been…interesting? I need to be more careful with my next choice!

Beverly, with is spartan illustrations started normally with a story about teens working in the summer and ended with a story about Beverly the masseuse. They were all loosely connected and followed a timeline of sorts. Strange, somewhat disturbing, and beyond my ability to really appreciate. 134 pages.

Everything is Beautiful, and I’m Not Afraid is a fictional graphic novel inspired by real life. How much truth I don’t know, but it reads like a memoir. A young immigrant comes out as bi to her conservative Chinese family and she becomes lost, no longer knowing where home is. I loved the art and wanted to love the ‘story’ more than I did. I’m sure this would appeal more to the reader going through similar issues with family and finding self worth.
Ah, that’s more like it. A graphic novel-ish that gave me some happy reading. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse were lovely creatures to spent some time with. I loved the art and the ideas, some more than others, and when I read this to my 11 year old he appreciated the humor of the mole 🍰. Here are some thoughts from the book…

“What do you think is the biggest waste of time?”
“Comparing yourself to others.”

“One of our greatest freedoms is how we react to things.”

“Asking for help isn’t giving up,” said the horse. “It’s refusing to give up.”

“Sometimes I worry you’ll all realize I’m ordinary,” said the boy.
“Love doesn’t need you to be extraordinary,” said the mole.

I am in love with this puzzle! I’ve never done one with a velvet finish and took a bit to get used to, but the extra dimension it gives to this piece of art is gorgeous. Clement Mmaduakor Nwafor is the Nigerian artist. Thanks for a perfect puzzle @completingthepuzzleofficial

Today’s book is Afar, a YA sci-fi/fantasy featuring a girl who can transport into the bodies of people on other planets in her sleep and her brother who gets into trouble but gets a monkey out of it 🐒. I enjoyed the art and the storylines and can see this appealing to many teens. Perfectly done! (Thank goodness after my first few days of graphic novel month)
When the newest Jerry Pinkney came in the library I knew had to read it. Pinkney died last month at the age of 81 after illustrating over 100 children’s books.

This is the story of The Welcoming Chair, beloved children book author Rosemary Wells’ family heirloom that tells the story of the American immigrant. From her preface…

“America’s door is open to suffering people from foreign lands,” my dad told me. “It’s America’s fundamental generosity of spirit that makes her hold her head high in a world of trouble. And it will always be so.”

‘My father’s words were true until recently. Lady Liberty’s message is today challenged by those who want to shut that door.

This book is based in part on my own family’s legends, as told to me by my grandmother Marguerite Leopold Bamberger and as passed down to her from her grandmother Ruth Seigbert’s diary.’

Wonderful story and gorgeous illustrations.
My two favorite days of graphic novel month so far! Two classics = so good.

I read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale by Renee Nault and was blown away by how good it was. I have never read the book, seen the movie, or watched the current miniseries. Still, as a person who loves books I knew what it was about. The art was gorgeous and there was just enough information, never too much to insult the reader, to draw you in and keep the pages turning excitedly. In a dystopian world women are again second class citizens and forced into designated roles where they must stay. The handmaids serve one purpose only, to bear children. The question of who a woman’s body belongs to takes center stage. It was fantastic ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery is by her grandson Miles Hyman. This story I knew. Lotteries are held in each town once a year and the ‘winner’ gets an extra special prize. Haunting and beautifully adapted with a special forward by Hyman telling some memories of his grandmother. Loved it! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

If you have a reluctant classics reader, let them start here. 📖

I couldn’t do a graphic novel month without including some serious award winning classics. I read these two outstanding books by Art Spieglman (the first winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1992).

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

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

Magical Reading

Except for vacation, I’ve been trying to keep my October reading as ghostly or magical as possible. It’s been a good reading week. What the most Halloweeny thing you’ve read this month?

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

This morning while Gage was at his last day of Timbernook, I took this book on an hour walk and contemplated making other decisions in life, both big and small, and where they might have led me.

Loved this book. Not only did I love the endless possibilities, I loved the attention to great philosophers, especially Thoreau, who is a favorite of mine. Highly recommend this one for discussion and contemplation. 
I love the 1968 movie Rosemary’s Baby and I finally got around to reading the Ira Levin novel. I liked it, but may actually prefer the movie. Now I’m going to have to watch it again!

Rosemary and Guy move into the Branford in NYC having heard of some of its more infamous past residents. They are befriended by an older neighbor couple and their relationship starts to change. When Rosemary becomes pregnant it’s not at all what she expects and she becomes even more isolated.

A perfect psychological horror story for October.

This book made my day. Any fan of Dean Koontz knows how much he loves dogs, especially his golden retriever Trixie. Trixie decided to write a book when she realized that some humans weren’t as happy as dogs were.

This book was so, so sweet. I loved it, even reading some passages out loud to Jason making him laugh too. If you have ever loved a dog, get your eyes in this book so you can feel the slobbery kisses as you read.

Trixie has since passed but her spirit lives on.
This felt like a throwback to the stories I used to love as a kid, no surprise there since it was originally published in 1983. Twelve-year-old Amy is too often relied on to take of her special needs sister. She is able to escape to her aunt’s creepy house where she discovered a dollhouse in the attic. While she’s thrilled, her aunt is not and tensions rise between the two.

This middle school story gave me all of the good stuff. It was a book about growing up and learning to navigate friendships and family and to believe in yourself enough to believe in ghostly spirits. Yes, there are ghosts, but the ones that help set things right.

A fun story for tweens. Loved it!

Also, we watched this throwback Goosebumps video two nights ago. It was definitely old school, but Gage loved it ❤️
That house near the end of the lane is not haunted, at least as far as we know, but The House at the End of Hope Street most definitely is. It’s filled with feminine giants like Daphne du Maurier, Sylvia Plath, Agatha Christie, and hundreds more. It’s a place the fixes those who are called to it and it does it on a 99 day deadline. I’m glad reading books on a deadline isn’t a thing since this was published in 2013.

Peggy has run the magical house for over 60 years, but now it tells her that her days are numbered. Stella is an aging actress struggling with being replaced by younger women, personally and professionally. Carmen has buried evidence of crime at the house and is haunted by its evil. Alba comes to the house as her future is in shambles.

It’s a charming book. I wish there’d been a little more about the four women, sacrificing the bits from the men, but the story still held it’s magic. Magical realism fans will enjoy.
I picked up The Witches of Benevento at our library sale not knowing anything about it except that it was the second in a kids series. I totally forgot to take picks of the illustrations that started every chapter – they were fantastic! This was such a strange little book in a strange little world where kids of the village have to avoid the likes of the Clopper (a witch who eats children), the Janara (mischief makers), and more. I ended up falling in love with this little world and the people who lived there.

Home Before Dark, Riley Sanger’s take on a haunted house, was a perfect listen as I worked on a puzzle late into the night. Maggie’s father had made their family famous with a memoir about them escaping their house after being attacked by ghosts. Now that he’s dead and the house is hers Maggie goes back to ready the place for sale and perhaps bring back memories from when she was 5. Is Baneberry Hall still haunted? Was it ever? I really liked this one!
oday’s book is the graphic novel adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s short story. I’ve not read the story so the 64 page book had the capacity to surprise.

Jack was only 7 when he first came upon the troll under the bridge and convinced it not to take his life. He offered his sister, later his would-be girlfriend, and finally promising to come back when he was older after he experienced life. He kept his promise, but would the troll still want his life?

Fantasy and fable in one clever short story. There are adult themes, so I’m not sure about the age group, but I was pleasantly surprised to like it so much.
This is the 4th in the Investigators series. Mango and Brash are alligators who work for SUIT ((Special Undercover Investigation Teams). This 200 pager starts with Mango working with a RoboBrash because the real Brash is in a coma due to being eaten by a giant waffle bad guy in the last one. It’s as silly as it sounds. Gage loves this series and was excited to be the first one in our library system to check out this latest.