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.
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.
The idea is that I post this list on Saturdays, but yesterday I spent all day sorting, moving, selling (online), organizing, and then stacking 30 boxes of books for our Friends group. I. was. beat. It was a good workout day though 🙂
Here’s what I read this week in the order that I enjoyed them. Pictures and thoughts taken from my Instagram.
Lots of picture books, 2 audio books, on e-book, and two actual paper books (my favorite). Three mysteries, and 4 non-fiction kids books (one adult too).
We used this book for poetry reading and cursive practice for the last week. We read a few poems a day, so we were able to stretch the 23 poems out.
I adored the fun poems and the beautiful illustrations. It’s nice when a kid can see the joy and even laughs a poem can bring when the words and pictures were so cleverly put together. This books is for the younger child about the excitement reading can bring. We read the companion, and just as wonderful, Write! Write! Write! last fall.
Jill of Rhapsody in Books sent Gage this gorgeous Brian Wildsmith book. It was so much fun to read together and definitely a keeper because of animal illustrations. Thank you Jill!
I also finished the audio The Hollow of Fear by Sherry Thomas, the third in the Lady Sherlock series. I’ve loved this series from the start and this book brings the wide range of characters together for a very personal investigation as Charlotte dons a Mr. Sherlock disguise to help save Lord Ingram from conviction. So many moving parts from one book to the next that I sometimes have a hard time keeping up, but do enjoy these characters so much.
I really enjoyed this cozy mystery set in WWI England.
Fiona Figg is still struggling to get over her ex-husband’s betrayal when she is given the unexpected opportunity to become a spy, at least for a short time. The only catch is that she must pretend to be a man. Obvious and not so obvious difficulties ensue. There is a murder and some suspect her, er, him.
The end has a bit of a cliffhanger and I’ve already downloaded the next Fiona Figg book!
We read 3 lovely picture books during our South Carolina studies. I’m starting with the one I think all parents should check out for their child, especially if you’re going to talk about Black History Month in February. The Escape of Robert Smalls: A Daring Voyage Out Of Slavery by Jehan Jones-Radgowski and illustrated by Poppy Kang was a great story. It’s a wordy but thrilling book about Robert’s almost fantastical escape from slavery during the Civil War. How could I never have heard this story before? Amazing man and an edge of your seat escape that will amaze your kids (and you!). He saved himself, his family and his small crew and their families. He went on to become the first black captain of a US military ship and later a US Congressman.
Althea Gibson: The Story of Tennis’s Fleet-Of-Foot Girl by Megan Reid, illustrated by Laura Freeman would also fit into Black History Month studies. Althea became the first African American person to win a tennis Grand Slam and then went on to keep winning them during a time when most things were still segregated, even tennis clubs. An easier read than the first and and important story too.
And who doesn’t live an elepephant? Bubbles:An Elephant’s Story by Bhagavan ‘Doc’ Antle about the Myrtle Beach Safari was so sweet and fun. The pictures of Bubbles and his friends were fun reading, even/especially for the younger set. Gage and I both fell in love with animal ambassador and so will you. The picture are swoon worthy.
When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka is a great little read. At only 144 pages it can be read during one sitting and it still manages to pack a punch.
Written in 5 sections, each one from a different point of view (mother, daughter, son, family, father) it tells of the treatment of Japanese Americans from right after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the years of internment after. It’s both a little boring and heartbreaking (imagine being a kid being transported across country by train when you had to pull down the blinds as you went through towns). I found the most powerful section when they returned home after 3 years and 5 months. It would be over 4 years before the father was released from a different camp and by then he had gone a little mad.
An important read about a dark time in our nation’s history.
The Guest List by Lucy Foley was a Reece’s Book Club selection and the 2020 Goodreads Best Mystery & Thriller winner. It’s set in Ireland, a win for me, and since I listened I was able to enjoy the multitude of accents by the narrators, another win. It’s setting on a remote island only accessible by boat had the feel of having been done before, but it still worked.
The story is told in alternating voices. There’s the bride, the groom, the best man, the bridesmaid, the plus one, and the wedding planner. There are lots of reveals and twists with some going back and forth between past and present and it made a compelling thriller. The tension built the way a good thriller should, but for me, it fell a little bit flat in the end. I still liked it well enough to recommend to mystery lovers, especially those who embrace unlikeable characters.
I had set aside this 65 page travel memoir for a day when I didn’t have a lot of time to spare. I’m happy to report that Diana Athill’s A Florence Diary was a delightful little transport back in time. Italy was our first overseas trip and I still remember our 3 days in Florence almost 12 years later. This book was just as much about Athill’s journey with her cousin from England to Italy as it was their time spent there. Learning about the 1947 boat and train experience and the people they met along the way was half the fun.
This was a charming little read if you want to travel to Florence and see it through the eyes of someone who experienced it over 70 years ago. There were some black and white photos mixed in with her thoughts. A nice little read to end the day.
Yes, this the mug I brought home from Italy and I use it all the time ☕️
Martin Luther King Jr.: Voice for Equality by James Buckley Jr. and Youneek Studios is a graphic novel that taught me a few things. It’s for kids and it’s ‘narrated’ by a young Lady Liberty and a young Uncle Sam. I found their narration a little off putting, but probably necessary for the younger set. I liked that they used different color balloons to differentiate between story and actual quotes. There were lots of quotes from his speeches and parts of his letters were included.
I learned a few things or maybe I had just forgotten that he was ‘little Mikey’ at birth until his father changed both of their names. I don’t remember learning that he skipped three grades. I was reading this in the family room and sharing interesting facts and when I got to that point Gage emphatically told me that he wasn’t interested in skipping to 7th grade.
He was a man who rose to meet the challenges of the day and we are all better off, even if we as a country tend to take two steps forward and one step back. “The arm of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
May we always strive to work toward equality. May we always strive for non-violence. May we always strive to put more love into the world so that it overpowers the hate.
I have no idea if this will be the way I do this in the future, but I do want to have all the books I read this year listed so we’ll try this. It’s the 9th and I’ve reads 9 books, woo hoo! I’m going to list the book in the order I liked them and include some of my thoughts about them. Let me know what you thought if you read any of these.
The Falconer by Elaine Clark McCarthy is a hidden gem. Published in 1996 at only 134 pages it was a wonderful way to spend a few hours, entrapped in the words of a poet. It was beautiful, odd, tragic.
After I finished the book I told Jason I had to sit with it for a bit before we watched something together (we eventually watched the finale of Bridgerton). Not only was I caught up in the story and the beautiful way it was told, but the ending elevated it and I wasn’t quite ready for it to be over.
India has just found out she has cancer and has maybe six months to live, so you know from the get go that this will likely not end well. It’s a book about living, death, the afterlife, passion and what our life choices look like when we know the end is near.
Will also appeal to anyone interested in falconry.
It’s a Remix of the National Book Award-winning ‘Stamped from the Beginning’. Kendi wrote a book about racism, from inception to current day and Reynolds made it easily accessible to teens in about half the number of pages.
Reynolds has a very conversational writing style that makes it all interesting and easy to digest. The complexity of some of the civil rights icons of the past is fascinating. Are you a segregationalist, assimilationist, or an antiracist? Turns out that some of these leaders were more than one at different points in their lives. I learned a lot and also was able to see different points in history in a new way. I think this is a must read starting point for teens.
What an inspirational listen. The woman was a force and women everywhere lost one of their biggest champions when she died last fall.
The book was a series of conversations between friends, some of which were in front of audiences. I especially liked the end where there was a real clip from a talk given, so you can hear her voice and the applause she received when she was done speaking. Some of the conversations overlapped or covered some of the same thoughts more than once, but her thoughts on a multitude of court cases, the Supreme Court when she joined and today, and how she viewed the future, left me sad all over again that we lost such a voice for women and all the disenfranchised. We were lucky to have her. Loved this audiobook.
David Breithaupt was hired as Kenyon College Library’s part-time supervisor after a decade spent in NYC working around books and writers. At Kenyon he managed to walk out the door with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of, sometimes rare and irreplaceable, books. He treated the library like his own personal candy store for a decade. He was finally found out when someone recognized something Breithaupt was trying to sell on eBay and contacted the school.
I enjoyed this story for many reasons but having many parts of it take place so close to where I grew up was my favorite. If you have any interest is learning a little about how college libraries work or true crime then this is a winner.
This is a monster sized book (480 pages) with a lot and subsequently not much going on. Evie’s childhood in the hills of the Adirondacks was full of angst and self-reliance. She managed to get out, even making a life and family in Paris, but her past became her present when her daughter got sick and she had to go back home.
I liked the story, but it felt really bogged down with the addition of so many characters. I would have liked it a lot better if it had been 100 pages shorter. I actually started this book last summer, put it down because my pleasure reading took a back seat to homeschool. I’m glad I finished it because the second half was better than the first.
The Brothers Kennedy: John, Robert, Edward by Kathleen Krull and Amy June Bates is 40 pages and a nice introduction to the Kennedy’s for the older picture book set. I’m not sure why Joe isn’t in the title since he gets his own section and is part of the storytelling (this bothers me more than it should). The book isn’t perfect but it does explain each of the four brothers and what they believed in. It really gave me the opportunity to expand on the book with more information as we read. When each brother died it showed the rest mourning, counting down until there was only Teddy (Edward). So, its not your light, upbeat kids book, you could feel the tragedies this family suffered as its 3 oldest sons were killed.
Barnum was a prankster and always ready to exchange truth for a great story. He was born with privilege since his grandfather was a important man able to provide Taylor (PT) with his first businesses. And there were many before he finally found his true calling.
This book was fun and full of Barnum’s biggest successes and failures. It was also interesting to learn a little more about his political life in his later years. A good, quickish read for anyone who loved the movie.
It was a cross between Mean Girls and Strangers on a Train. I like psychological thrillers, but this one failed to grab me. Shay was a sympathetic character, mostly, but the reveal at the end didn’t really wow enough for me to love it.
he author calls this story reality fiction. It’s based on an actual documented huckleberry party. Thoreau is joined by three children, two of them based on children who wrote about their experiences later and one based on Ralph Waldo Emerson’s son. Thoreau and Emerson helped me fall in love with transcendental writing so I love that these characters and story were based on real people and event.
The story might be a little slow for smaller kids but older elementary kids will get something out of it, especially the nature lovers! And the illustrations were perfect.
When I was a youngster, oh so many years ago, my mom would drop me off at the public library while she went to do my grandmother’s hair on Saturday mornings. Although I often went straight downstairs to the the kids area, I loved exploring all of the sections of the library. One morning, when I had checked out my books, but I still had time, I found this bookcase upstairs that had short books so I took a look. It was a whole bookcase full of the monthly Harlequins. I sat down, started to read, and was HOOKED. Knowing that I could never actually check these out, my weekly ritual changed as I now started my visit by reading a Harlequin and then quickly going downstairs to grab some appropriate books to check out before my mother picked me up. I remember trying to be all sneaky so the librarians wouldn’t see me picking one of the adult romances, lol. I don’t really remember how long this went on before the Saturday visits ended, but I still remember those covers and the thrill of forbidden reading.
I’ve been running our Friends of the Library book sale out of my house/garage since the pandemic reared its ugly head. Every week I go and pick up 4 boxes of books to try and sell on our Facebook page. Imagine my delight when I opened up a whole box of Harlequin romances! I tried to sell them, but not one was willing to admit, publicly at least, that they read them. As I boxed them back up I grabbed a few and set them aside and a few nights ago I read A Mistress, A Scandal, A Ring by Angela Bissell.
It didn’t take me long, these books are easy to skim, and, surprisingly, I found it enjoyable. For someone living on Hallmark movies the last month or so this felt just right somehow. A rich, sexy man with a chip on his shoulder and a nurse with a giving heart is the bread and butter for these stories. It managed to have a decent storyline in a low page count and I’m glad I read it since it managed to bring back some fun memories.
What about you? Have you ever read a Harlequin? What scandalous book or books did you read as a kid?
It started with the murder of Kinsey Millhone’s sometime drinking buddy, an insurance claims adjuster. But before long Kinsey stumbles onto a massive insurance scam. Going undercover as a wisecracking vamp, Millhone descends into the Los Angeles nether world of machismo and gang hideouts. Her companion, terrified at having crossed the violent crook Raymond Maldonado, is Bibianna Diaz — no Girl Scout herself. from Goodreads
I love Kinsey and this one was okay, but she did seem to reach beyond her talents by going undercover, inadvertently really, for the police. I was worried for her, but also questioned why she didn’t just walk away from a very dangerous situation. I really like this series, even though some of it feels dated. Kinsey is ahead of her time so she remains just right for any time period.
For those who enjoy writing notes, or those who value doing so but find themselves intimidated by the task, acclaimed calligrapher Margaret Shepherd has created both an epistolary tribute and rescue manual. Just as you cherish receiving personal mail, you can take pleasure in crafting correspondence. Love, gratitude, condolences, congratulations–for every emotion and occasion, a snippet of heartfelt prose is included, sure to loosen the most stymied letter writer. from Goodreads
Civilized, stolen right from the title, is the perfect work for this letter writing reference. Shepherd starts with the why of a personal, handwritten note and during these crazy times of social distancing I think we all can agree that a heartfelt note in the mailbox can really brighten your day. Gage and I made crafty heart cards for all of our neighbors on the street and spread some love closer to home. It’s a great time to pick up a pen and paper and practice your cursive skills.
There’s quite a bit of time spent on the paper to choose, the different kinds of pens, and how to improve your handwriting before she gets into the nitty-gritty of what to say. I liked reading about what to say and what not to say, but the whole thing felt a little bit tone deaf in 2020. I picked this up at the library book sale a few months ago and it was a good time to read it.
Officer Ryan Quinn, a rookie raised in a family of cops, is on the fast track to detective until he shoots an unarmed black male. Now, with his career, reputation and freedom on the line, he embarks on a quest for redemption that forces him to confront his fears and biases and choose between conscience or silence.
Jade Wakefield is an emotionally damaged college student living in one of Philadelphia’s worst neighborhoods. She knows the chances of getting an indictment against the cop who killed her brother are slim. When she learns there’s more to the story than the official police account, Jade is determined, even desperate, to find out what really happened. She plans to get revenge by any means necessary.
Kelly Randolph, who returns to Philadelphia broke and broken after abandoning his family ten years earlier, seeks forgiveness while mourning the death of his son. But after he’s thrust into the spotlight as the face of the protest movement, his disavowed criminal past resurfaces and threatens to derail the family’s pursuit of justice.
Ryan, Jade, and Kelly–three people from different worlds—are on a collision course after the shooting, as their lives interconnect and then spiral into chaos. from Goodreads
Police shooting unarmed men of color is a hot button issue and it is dealt with here in a measured way while still telling the story of what happens after the shooting. How do the parents and family have the strength to go on camera? How do the protests get organized? How is pressure applied to get an indictment? And what if the policeman, while guilty, is also a victim of things out of his control?
The story is told from three different perspectives and I think this worked extremely well. The sister, who was close to her brother, lashes out in anger. The absent father comes home to redeem himself. The police officer, whose complicated experience with racial issues leaves him drowning in guilt and alcohol. I found sympathy, lost sympathy and fought incredulity at different parts in the book.
The character that made the most sense to me was Kelly, the wayward street hustler who returns home under threat of his life even while burying his own son. His family, especially his daughter Jade, don’t want him there and he struggles to get out of the homeless shelter. When he does find a way to make himself useful you begin to worry if he can really change. His daughter doesn’t think so even as her mother considers bringing him back into the family.
It was an interesting story with a lot of moving parts.
Quick Question for author Stephen Clark. I had the opportunity to exchange a few emails with the author (who sent me a copy of his book) and I asked him one question I’m sharing with you. I think we can all relate to his last statement 🙂
What was your favorite book of 2019?
Most of the books I read last year were published in prior years, such as The Firm and The Runaway Jury by John Grisham. The most recently published book I read was Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, which was released in 2018. And boy was it good! There was also a documentary on Elizabeth Holmes, the disgraced founder of Theranos. I’m currently reading Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber, which was published in 2019. But I’m not finished yet. However, the book I enjoyed reading the most in 2019 was, far and away, The Smack by Richard Lange. Superb crime novel published in 2017. He’s also one of my favorite authors. Sorry for the long answer. But when it comes to books, I usually don’t have short responses. 😂
It’s been 150 years since Lewis Carroll penned Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the story which has become a favorite of children and adults the world over. Now, in a deluxe hardcover edition from Puffin, Alice’s story comes to life for a whole new generation of readers through the colorful, whimsical artwork of Anna Bond, best known as the creative director and artistic inspiration behind the worldwide stationery and gift brand Rifle Paper Co. Lose yourself in Alice’s story as she tumbles down the rabbit hole, swims through her own pool of tears, and finds herself in a rather curious place called Wonderland. There, she’ll encounter the frantic White Rabbit, have a frustrating conversation with an eccentric caterpillar, and play croquette with the hot-headed Queen of Hearts. Follow Alice on her wild adventure through the eyes of the artist in this definitive gift edition. from Goodreads
So, I’m continuing my curmudgeonly thoughts with another childhood classic. Let me start by saying that I LOVED this edition. Anna Bond’s illustrations were the only saving grace when I read this. They were modern, colorful and fun. None of which I am going to say about Alice. Maybe you have to be a child or reading to a child to like this one? Maybe I should try reading it to Gage to test this theory. I found Alice to be a bit on the insufferable side, but I’m old (just had a birthday a few weeks ago that proves it).
You tell me, what’s so great about Alice?
This is my 30th selection for the Classics Club challenge. I have until January 1, 2020 to get to 50.
A farm is taken over by its overworked, mistreated animals. With flaming idealism and stirring slogans, they set out to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality. Thus the stage is set for one of the most telling satiric fables ever penned –a razor-edged fairy tale for grown-ups that records the evolution from revolution against tyranny to a totalitarianism just as terrible. When Animal Farm was first published, Stalinist Russia was seen as its target. Today it is devastatingly clear that wherever and whenever freedom is attacked, under whatever banner, the cutting clarity and savage comedy of George Orwell’s masterpiece have a meaning and message still ferociously fresh. from Goodreads
This is not a hypothetical question. I want to know what you loved about Animal Farm. It’s a still widely read beloved classic, but when I finished it I was so happy it was over and it was only 3 hours! Maybe listening to it all in one day without time for introspection wasn’t the most fair treatment of this dystopian oldie. So, I’m asking you to sell me on those pigs. Was I rooting against them? Of course! Did I almost shed a tear at Boxer’s end? Yes! Did I need to read a study guide at the same time to appreciate it? You tell me. And yes, I ‘get’ everything in the above description 🙂
Tell me what you loved the most…
This was my 27th selection for the Classics Club challenge. I have until January 1, 2020 to get to 50.