This Week – Friend Fun

This week the local school had Thursday off for Yom Kippur so, we were able to take Gage’s friend with us to his weekly nature camp. The boys had fun and I was lucky enough to spend 30 minutes on the way home with them talking about girl crushes, lol. Here’s the photo they let me take when we dropped off his friend…

Love these boys! On to the books.
Good morning! Mary Bly (Eloisa James for romance readers) has written a book that touches the heart. Lizzie has stage 3 cancer and travels to Italy with her BFF and his famous boyfriend, wanting to soak in the moments before they’re gone. Then Dante shows up with his pre-teen daughter and her heart must come to terms with new possibilities.

This was emotional, tragic and hopeful at the same time. Lizzie is a Shakespeare professor (much like the author) and Romeo and Juliet play a pert in the storyline (hence the title?). I knew nothing about it going in, basing my reading decision in the beautiful cover and knowing it was an author I enjoyed, so I won’t say any more about it. Well, except that I’m glad that I read it 😁
The only thing these two books have in common is their red and white covers and the fact that I read them yesterday. One, about Africans making the treacherous journey to Europe and the other a picture book made from a song by the White Stripes.

Alpha: Abidjan to Paris is the story of a man who has tried to get visas for him and his family to travel to Paris to stay with his sister-in-law. When that becomes impossible he sends his wife and son to make the dangerous and illegal journey, hoping that when they arrive they’ll send money so he can join them. Heartbreaking and informative, this graphic novel shouldn’t be missed. The first two pics are from this book. Translated from French.

We”re Going to be Friends is a charming kids picture book made from the song by the White Stripes. The artwork is fantastic and, the ‘story’ is sure to please kids and adults. It was the illustrations that won me over. The last two pics are of this book.

There’s nothing prettier than a Kleypas cover! This is the third book about the Hathaways and I loved catching up with them all.

When Poppy runs into the reclusive Harry Rutledge in a secret passage in his hotel his desire for her changes the course of her life. It’s up for debate about whether it’s for the better.

Historical romance fans can do no better than Kleypas. This wasn’t a favorite, Harry wasn’t my speed, but I did love my time spent with the rest of the Hathaway clan.
Annie Lumsden, the Girl from the Sea reads a little like a fairy tale, but its center is Annie, a girl who is considered ‘daft’. She lives by the sea with her mother who loves to tell tales and one day tells the one Annie’s been waiting for, the one about her father.

It was different and I wonder what kids actually think of it since it’s labeled juvenile. Annie is different and that will appeal to many kids, but it felt written for someone older. I think it would be a lovely book to read with your pre-teen child, especially if they love mermaids 🧜‍♀️ the illustrations were lovely.

This is one that I’ve been meaning to read for years and when this copy came in with the library donations this week I immediately stuck it in my bag . Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood is a graphic memoir by the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors. She tells the story of her childhood during the Islamic Revolution and Iran’s war with Iraq.

It’s 152 pages of black and white illustrations full of horror, history, and heartwarming and heartbreaking stories. This covers her life from 6-14, when she was then sent to Vienna without her parents.

I’m late to the game, but this is a must read. I’m already looking to get my hands on book 2! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
Book of the day with our latest  puzzle! I ❤️this happy circle puzzle with flowers, birds, and butterflies 🌸🦜🦋

As good as Long Bright River was, it wasn’t cheery like the puzzle. It’s about bad beginnings, drug abuse, and the ties that keep families together. BUT it is a thriller, with clues told at just the right pace to keep this almost 500 pager racing to the finish.

Mickey, always the good sister, is worried because she hasn’t seen her sister on the streets for awhile and women are being murdered in the neighborhood. She’s a policewoman with a new partner and a boss who doesn’t like her. How will she find her sister? And if she does will she still be alive?

This book had a little bit of everything (except cheerfulness) and I thought it was very well done. This is my first by Liz Moore, but I’ll be looking for more.

I loved this book for kids (Gage just started it) and will definitely be looking for more of the series. Two siblings try to outdo each other with the interesting and obscure facts they know about the famous boxer. At just over 100 pages and with short chapters and paragraphs this is sure to appeal to even a reluctant reader. It’s told in a fun way with recognizable interactions between the siblings.

Along with the facts and stories there were quotes and the poetry he recited. The illustrations were great too. I loved reading some of the facts out loud to Jason since he hadn’t heard most of them either. Muhammad Ali paid someone to lick his sweat? Those kind of facts combined with more biographical information make this a winner for the late elementary set ❤️❤️❤️❤️

August Wrap Up and Favorites

A few days late, but I’m here. In August I read a total of 37 books and watched 3 bookish movies.

10-kids picture books (non-fiction)

6-adult fiction

5-thrillers

5-kids picture books (fiction)

3-romance

3-kids fiction

3-adult non-fiction

1- poetry

1-kids graphic memoir

Here are the few since my last update…

In Good Company Flora finds her husband’s first wedding ring, in the bottom of a file cabinet, a ring he had supposedly lost in a Lake years ago. What follows is the past and present lives of two couples and one daughter, each getting a chance to show their perspective.

I listened to the whole thing so it was at least that good, but I had a difficult time caring about any of the characters, except maybe the daughter. And the story, the way that it jumped around,didn’t help me get invested. I thought the end was well done. If you like books about complicated marriages (aren’t they all?) then this will probably appeal to you.
We watched Sarah’s Key, based on the bestselling book that I finally read last month. Alternating between 1942 and 2002 Paris it explores the French roundup of its Jewish citizens during WWII. I thought both the book and movie were good and I always like seeing Aidan Quinn onscreen 🙂

My book of the day is also one of my favorite books of August (the others are shown). Just Last Night looks like a cute romance from the cover. But even though there is some romance, this is more about friendship and loss and coming through stronger. It was not at all what I expected and I loved it! But beware I shed a tear or two in the middle.

FAVORITES

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What was your favorite read of August?

Posts about this month’s books…

August 7

August 14

August 22

August 28

This Week – ERs and sickness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finishing up June & thoughts about my challenges

I’m adding 13 books to my June count, finishing up the month with 44 books and 3 bookish movies.

Since this is also the md-year point, let’s do an update on my two challenges. The Book a Day Challenge has been easier than expected. As you’ve noticed, I’ve read a lot of kids books and that’s helped, but I’ve also watched a lot less bookish movies than I thought I would. I’ve read 217 books and watched 7 movies. This challenge, that I update daily on IG, is a fun challenge that I’m loving.

My other challenge was my lose 50 by 50 challenge. Let’s just say that it’s not going well, and for my own mental health all I’m going to say is that I’m a work in progress 🙂

Here are the books I read since last week…

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The Husbands by Chandler Baker. Published 2021, 352 pages

 Nora was on a fast track to senior partner with a 4 year old daughter and a baby on the way. She was stressed and needed more help and understanding from her husband. When she is welcomed into a close knit suburban community full of accomplished women with doting husbands she begins to imagine a new type of marriage.

I liked the idea of this, but it took me a while to get into it. Once I did I enjoyed the modern spin on the Stepford Wives concept. How far are you willing to go for a perfect marriage?

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

There are 3 chapters and lots of photos. The chapters (lighting, seeing, creating) are just as much about how to see than they are about how to take the photo. It’s a lovely book I’m happy to have in my house to look at anytime I want (I’m looking at you Cleveland winter!).

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

I read Answers for the 4A Epidemic: Healing for Kids with Autism, ADHD, Asthma, and Allergies. Cannizzaro is an MD who makes the very solid case for kids who have any of these diagnoses to have an integrative doctor onboard. I couldn’t agree more.

He does a great job of explaining the often complicated processes of out of sync bodies and what we, as parents, can do to help. He was great at explaining the breakdown, with some places to start with diet, if interested. Obviously, not for every kid, but diet makes a big difference here.

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

I loved the illustrations and the true story about a man who buys property and resurrects a creek that had been filled in. The man? Michael Osterholm who is currently on President Biden’s Covid Advisory Council.

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

Dark Was the Night: Blind Willie Johnson’s Journey to the Stars was such a treat. Johnson, who went blind as a child, played in street corners in Texas. Now his music is flying on Voyager I outside our galaxy on the Golden Record.

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

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

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

Small Room, Big Dreams: The Journey of Julian and Joaquin Castro is a great new book about the twins and how they have always been involved in wanting to make life better for people.

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

Nacho’s Nachos: The Story Behind the World’s Favorite Snack takes place in Mexico, but it was included in my search because in 1940 Mamie Finan came from just over the border to The Victory Club and inspired Ignacio Anaya (Nacho for short) to create the first delicious snack that bears his name.

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

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

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

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

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

Diary of Sarah Gillespie has entries from the teen’s diary growing up on a 100 acre farm in the 1880’s. There was added definitions, clarification, and photos.

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

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

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

I really don’t like these books. The writing isn’t great, but the idea is usually good. We were studying Texas last week so this worked.

A solid reading week with a clear winner

I’ve read 8 books since the last update; 2 romantic suspense, 2 kids non-fiction, 2 non-fiction picture books, 1 fiction and and 1 thriller. Drumroll for the winner… it’s the thriller! This has been a thriller/mystery heavy month for me. The good thing about this week’s reading is that there isn’t a stinker in the bunch. They’re all great or at least solid reads.

Listed in the order I liked best with a few sentences of thoughts and description. If you want the daily updates with more details you can follow me on Instagram.

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Final Girls by Riley Sager

This one is about those girls who are the only survivors of a mass murder, final girls. Quincy was partying at Pine Cottage with her friends when the unthinkable happens. Quincy managed to escape with only 3 stab wounds, a Xanax prescription, and a need for a perfectly controlled life. One day, another final girl shows up in her life and suddenly her perfect life turns inside out.

I loved this one.

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Undeniably Yours by Heather Webber

Lucy is a physic who is learning the extent of her skills. She has a loving and unruly family, best friends for life, a collection of animals, and a live-in boyfriend whom she’s madly in love with. The mystery was good, relatable, and complicated.

I’m sorry to see the end of the series with this fifth and final book.

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The Pecan Man by Cassie Dandridge Selleck

This is great southern fiction set in the 1970’s. Ora Lee is an old woman setting the story straight about what really happened back in the day. Racism, rape, and murder kept the story moving, but it’s Ora, a good Christian woman with nothing but love in her heart, realizing her own prejudices that are the moral of the story.

I thought the audio performance was perfection and highly recommend it.

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We Are Explorers by Kari Herbert

I always love reading about bold, passionate women who didn’t/ haven’t let expectations (or even sexist rules) stop them in pursuit of their dreams. A few of the women I’d heard of, like Sacajawea and Nelly Bly, but the most I hadn’t. I loved learning about these 13 women from around the world!

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Zaha Hadid by Ma Isabel Sanchez Vegara

I love this series. I love the choices of people and the illustrations. Zaha Hadid was the first woman and the first Muslim to be awarded the Pritzker Prize, architecture’s highest honor.

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Danger in Numbers by Heather Graham

A cult-like, ritualistic murder brings together Amy from the Florida state police and Hunter from the FBI. Hunter, having escaped a cult as a child, has first hand knowledge of the people who have taken over a small Florida town, abusing religion for power (sound familiar?). The ending has me thinking that we’ll be seeing more of this crime fighting duo.

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Saving American Beach: The Biography of African American Environmentalist Mavynee Betsch by Heidi Tyline King

I found the story of American Beach, a beach for all people to come together during the time of segregation an enlightening read. It mentioned that elsewhere a rope in the ocean divided the whites and blacks. It made me incredibly sad that the ugliness of racism could try to ruin something as magnificent as the ocean.

MaVynee’s grandfather purchased the beach and after mother got sick she went home and tried to save the land from development. She became known as the Beach Lady and managed to save the tallest sand dune in Florida. One person CAN make a difference.

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Who Was Henry Ford? by Michael Burgen

Of all the books of this series that we’ve read this has been my least favorite so far. It’s all about cars! 😂. This has to be one of my least favorite topics so getting to the end felt like an accomplishment and it’s only 105 pages.

What have you read lately that I should add to my list?

164 Books This Year

With the 8 books I read this week my total for 2021 stands at 164 books and 3 movies based on books. My reading a book a day this year challenge is successfully chugging along. This week I read 2 non-fiction picture books, 2 fiction, 1 historical romance, 1 thriller, 1 poetry, and 1 kids fiction. I did manage to read 3 new books so that’s an improvement 🙂 Have you read any of these?

Here they are in roughly the order I liked them best. It’s hard to do this since they are so different!

Seduce Me at Sunrise by Lisa Kleypas
Seduce Me At Sunrise by Lisa Kleypas

I read Seduce Me At Sunrise by Lisa Kleypas (#2 in the Hathaway series, but I didn’t read the first and still loved this one). A historical romance set in mid 1800s England with a quirky, but proper family who welcomes two Gypsy men into their fold.

This was steamy, but also had an interesting mystery surrounding the two men’s matching tattoos. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will continue on to the third book. 360 pages.

Dawn by Elie Wiesel
Dawn by Elie Wiesel

Elie Weisel, Holocaust survivor, author, and activist. I read his autobiographical Night 6 years ago and loved it, this is considered the second book in that trilogy although it is fiction.

Elisha, a Holocaust survivor is a Israeli freedom fighter (calling themselves the Movement) in British-controlled Palestine. He has been tasked with executing a British hostage at Dawn. This book takes place from dusk til dawn of that day.

It’s a short, introspective book (100 pages) about war, becoming a murderer, and how we as a society got to this point. So much to unpack and I’m sure I’ll read it again.

“I was beginning to understand. An act as absolute as that of killing involves not only the killer but, as well, those who have formed him.”

“We say that ours is a holy war, that we’re struggling against something and for something, against the English and for an independent Palestine. That’s what we say. But those are words; as such they serve only to give meaning to our actions. And in our actions seen in their true and primitive light, have the odor and color of blood. This is war, we say; we must kill. There are those, like you, who kill with their hands, and others-like me-who kill with their voices. Each to his own. And what else can we do? War has a code, and if you deny this you deny its whole purpose and hand the enemy victory on a silver platter.”

This was written in 1960 and, sadly, felt like it could have been written yesterday. I didn’t read this book to connect with the current conflict, but, man, it sure did hit a little harder because of it.

“War is like night. It covers everything.”

The Perfect Couple by Jackie Kabler
The Perfect Couple by Jackie Kabler

Can you spot the perfect couple? Always smiling, touching, sharing private jokes? Maybe they’re both tall and beautiful or have great laughs. Or, perhaps, you are past your teen years and realize there is no such thing.

I’m on the @tlcbooktours today (thank you very much for the book!) and was surprised at how caught up I got in this thriller. It’s not perfect, but it kept me reading every chance I got.

Gemma and her husband move from London to Bristol and one day the husband disappears. The police think it might be the work of a serial killer or even Gemma herself.

I wasn’t surprised by the ending but enjoyed the journey. The author has previously written cozy mysteries and you can feel that influence although this is definitely darker. Fun ride.
Seeds of Freedom by Hester Bass
Seeds of Freedom: The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama

The city was a bit ahead of the curve in the equal rights department in that they were able to change sooner and as peacefully as possible at the time. The first black student to attend an all-white school happened there in 1963 and a private school became the first reverse-integrated in the state when 12 white students started a traditionally black school a week before. Really liked this one, especially the last few pages with additional information and photos of the real people who were there.

The Switch by Beth O'Leary
The Switch by Beth O’Leary

I listened to and read The Switch by Beth O’Leary and while it has nothing to do with cemeteries, the event that drives the story is the death of a sister and granddaughter the year before. Workaholic Lena is forced to take a 2 month sabbatical from work and her grandmother Eileen wants to heal the relationship between her daughter and granddaughter. So they decide to switch places. Lena takes over her grandmother’s village house and responsibilities and Eileen moves into Lena’s London flat with two roommates.

I liked the audio with Daisy Edgar-Jones and Alison Steadman reading the dialing storylines. I loved the indomitable 79 year old Eileen and her London takeover. The story as a whole was sweet.

Impossible Bottle by Claudia Emerson
Impossible Bottle by Claudia Emerson

I read a book of poetry last night l, based solely on the cover. I lucked out that the poet, Claudia Emerson, was actually a Pulitzer Prize winner. This book was published after her death of cancer in 2014. She writes about her experiences with the illness and the everydayness of life that we often miss. I was moved by many of the poems and am happy I took some quiet time to experience the talent and and truth found here. 65 pages

“The World is not Conclusion.” – Emily Dickinson

The One Thing You'd Save by Linda Sue Park
The One Thing You’d Save by Linda Sue Park

“Imagine that your home is on fire. You’re allowed to save one thing. Your family and pets are safe, so don’t worry about them.” This is the assignment Ms. Chang gave to her class on the first page of The One Thing You’d Save.

The author used sijo (an ancient form of Korean poetry) structure in the 65 page picture book. I loved the discussion between the students -it felt very genuine- but I wish the illustration heavy story had been in color.

The answers range from a ratty sweater and iPhone to a rug and autographed baseball program.

A fun story and conversation starter. Gage is still trying to decide on his item, he needs some and told me he’d let me know by the end of the week 😆. For me, it would most likely be a bin full of family history stuff. What about you?

The Teachers March! by Sandra Neil Wallace
The Teacher’s March by Sandra Neil Wallace

This was a nice history of the civil rights period in Selma. I found it dense for the format, but it was nice that many of the events it mentioned we have already read about.

A so-so reading week

I read 8 books this week, but only two really stood out for me. Maybe some of my dissatisfaction is stemming from too many kids books! More adult reading on the way 🙂 This brings by yearly total to 156 books.

2 kids fiction, 1 graphic memoir, 1 historical romance, 1 non-fiction, 1 picture book-fiction, 1 picture book non-fiction, 1 kids fiction

Listed in the order I like them best with my thoughts. Have you read any of these?

The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo  Villavicencio
The Undocumented Americans. Published in 2020, 208 pages

“This book is a work of creative nonfiction, rooted in careful reporting, translated as poetry, shared by chosen family, and sometimes hard to read. Maybe you won’t like it. I didn’t write it for you to like it. And I didn’t set out to write anything inspirational.”

“This book is for everybody who wants to step away from the buzzwords in immigration, the talking heads, the kids in graduation caps and gowns, and read about the people underground. Not heroes. Ransoms. People. Characters.”

This book is more than a memoir of her undocumented life, more than a series of interwoven stories of people living in fear, more than what gets printed by news sources. Its’s authentic. It’s raw. It’s impactful. It’s her truth and you do t have to like it. But you will probably gain some insight if you read this slim book. She travels from Ground Zero to Miami, Flint, Cleveland, and beyond.

Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women. Published 2016, 211 pages

 I had fun reading through this international list of strong women, sharing some with Gage when we were sitting together.

Each woman had a bio page and another page with a beautifully drawn portrait. The artwork is where this book shined. I’m considering getting my own copy for that reason alone.

I met women I’d never heard of along with women I’ve long admired. I think the bio pages were okay, but wish they’d felt more complete. But since this is for younger girls they are probably great for whetting the appetite for more exploration.

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn
The Duke and I (Bridgertons #1). Published 2006, 384 pages

After watching the Netflix series, Bridgerton, I thought I’d give the book series it was based on a try. I listened to the audio of The Duke and I and really enjoyed the performance.. Most things in the book are in the series, but not the other way around.

The Bridgerton’s are a large English family that enjoys a life of privilege in London. When Daphne, the fourth born but first daughter, is facing pressure to marry she forges a ruse with her brother’s best friend, the Duke of Hastings.

I liked the book, but really missed the all of the extras from the series. I admit that I missed that larger than life Queen. I missed some of the other friendships that showed up that weren’t in print. I don’t know if I’ll continue to read the series. I may be content enough to catch it onscreen.

Walt Whitman by Nancy Loewen
Walk Whitman. Published 1991

 On the left are his bio pages and on the right are excerpts from his poetry. At 47 pages it’s a pretty book for your shelves and to use as an introduction to Whitman for middle schoolers.

There is one about political parties that is particularly timely.

A fun edition to read on a sunny day and I learned more about Whitman’s life than I remember, particularly his role of caring for the wounded during the Civil War.

Courage for Beginners by Karen Harrington
Courage for Beginners. Published 2014, 320 pages

Seventh grader Mysti has a mother who has agoraphobia, a dad who is in a coma, a best friend who is going to ‘pretend’ to ditch her so he could be popular, and if she doesn’t walk the mile to the grocery store, she and her sister would have nothing to eat. I love the new friendships she forged and the way that she held her family together. This book captured the painful growing that happens in junior high and I liked it. It was fun to read a book that I wouldn’t normally have picked up.

A Giraffe and a Half by Shel Silverstein

A Giraffe and a Half. Published 1964, 48 pages


Gage and I read some Shel Silverstein poetry, watched the 1973 Giving Tree movie by Shel Silverstein, and read A Giraffe and a Half. Gage loved this story much that he read it again to his dad. It was funny, ridiculous, and had an unexpected conclusion. What boy doesn’t want to see a rat, a snake, a skunk, a dragon, and a whale being carried by a giraffe?

The Great Chicago Fire, 1871 by Lauren Tarshis
I Survived the Great Chicago Fire, 1871. Published 2015, 112 pages

We read a chapter or two before bed every night (were lucky there were no nightmares) and immediately after finishing it, Gage started looking to see which one he wanted to read next. He LOVES this series. The book was good, my favorite part being the last 8 pages with facts. Did you know that the deadliest fire in US history took place the same day as this one but was actually 250 miles north in Peshtigo, Wisconsin? Chicago fire killed 300. Peshtigo? Between 1,500-2,500! I need to read more about that!

Mallko & Dad by Gusti
Mallko and Dad. Published 2018, 120 pages

This is a journal/sketchbook by the author/artist Gusti about his son with Down Syndrome. I wanted to love it, and there were pages that hit me with their honesty, one whole two page spread is covered with the words I DID NOT ACCEPT HIM. I was expecting more introspection about how he got from there to the words on the last pages, written largely across the pages “ACCEPTING“ IS WILLINGLY AND GLADLY RECEIVING WHAY WE’VE BEEN OFFERED. The other pages are filled with drawings by dad and son, photos, and some snippets by mom and brother.
It was creative and sweet. It was translated from Spanish and missed something in translation for me but appeals to others given its high GR rating 😁

First week in May reads

This first week in May has been a little on the rainy and cool side, but that’s not a bad thing when you want to read 🙂 I finished 6 books since the last update, 2 YA books (1 fiction, 1 non-fiction), 2 kids books (1 fiction, 1 non-fiction), 1 thriller, and 1 historical romance. That brings my number of books read this year to 147. I don’t have time to upload my Instagram pics today, but you can always follow me there to see them daily https://www.instagram.com/stacybuckeye/

The books in the order I liked them best… Have you read any of these?

Find Her by Lisa Gardner
Find Her by Lisa Gardner (#8 in the Detective DD Warren series)

Although this is book 8 in the Detective D.D. Warren series it can be read as a standalone. Really! I haven’t read any of this series and totally got hooked right away in this thriller.

Flora spent 472 days kidnapped. She got away, but has never been the same. When we meet her in the first chapter she is trolling for men who kidnap young women. But in the 5 years she’s been freed she has turned herself into a machine of resourcefulness and the men pay dearly. This time though, she goes too far and draws the attention of a police detective and someone far more dangerous.

I loved how my feelings for Flora changed from one page to the next. She was a complex and fascinating character Her story is what carried the book so I don’t know if I’d read more of the series, but I really liked this one.

Runaway Train by Lee Matthew Goldberg
Runaway Train by Lee Matthew Goldberg

Runaway Train by Lee Matthew Goldberg is the story of Nico, a girl hitting rock bottom after her sister dies. It’s the 1990s and her love for Kurt Cobain and grunge music taps into her heartbreak. As she spirals out of control she decides to run away from her distant and divorcing parents and even her druggie best friends. She comes up with a bucket list and hits the road with her dad’s gas card.

Aside from the back of the book calling the 90s a bygone era this was well done 😉 . Nico was not always easy to like, but as one adventure led to another, I got caught up in her pain and wanted to see her well. She’s a teen lashing out, trying to wash away her loneliness with drugs, drinks, and dudes, and it was the wholesomeness of the 90s that saved her from darker experiences  Music was really a main character here, each chapter titled by a different song.

The ending was satisfying, with some spots being realistically heartbreaking still. There’s already a sequel in the works and I’m looking forward to seeing what Nico’s future holds.

I was on the TLC Book Tour for this one.

Who Was Jim Henson? by Joan Holub
Who Was Jim Henson? by Joan Holub

Gage and I love the Who? What? Where? series. We have a lot of unread ones in our library, but I requested Jim Henson because he grew up in Mississippi and that was last week’s state. And then I discovered Gage didn’t know the Muppets! How is this possible?! So as we read a chapter a day before finishing it yesterday we also spent some time watching old Muppets episodes.

Also, I found a puppeteering class on Outschool last week so he did that too and it was a lot of fun for him to see the process from a professional.

I always associate Henson with the Muppet Show I watched as a kid. I was happy to learn about his Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock experiences too. I love how he managed to make the Muppets stars even before they got their own show. And, his death at a young 53 was made even more sad by the genuine affection all who knew him had for him and for the joy his life’s work brought to the world.

“Please watch out for each other and love and forgive everybody. It’s a good life, enjoy it.”

The Truths We Hold by Kamala Harris
The Truths We Hold by Kamala Harris, young readers edition

I don’t like reading political books written by people trying to get elected. I chose the YA version thinking I would get a better feel for the woman who made history, in a quicker more succinct way. I did. I wanted to read about a historical figure while we’re actually still witnessing it. I wouldn’t consider myself a Kamala fan, but…

I’ve always respected the determination and smarts of women who get to the top of their field. They are always held to a different standard than men, whichever side of the political aisle you’re on. Add to that having mixed heritage, Jamaican and Indian in Kamala’s case, and the standards continue to shift.

As for the book, I liked it. It told of her background, her love for her mother so present throughout the book. She talked about her career (District Attorney, Attorney General, US Senator) and the campaigns of each. She used those experiences to talk about her ideals, essentially laying out what she stands for and how she sees the country. I’m sure this would be inspiring to teens.

I learned a little more about our current VP and am happy I read it but I didn’t love the book. Maybe I should have read the adult version or maybe I should’ve have waited for her memoir. Nothing in the book surprised me, I already knew she was tough and accomplished, but it was fun to hear her talk about her husband’s proposal, and as a concerned citizen, it was nice to read about Senators reaching across party lines (on both sides).

Savage Intrigue by Cassie Edwards
Savage Intrigue by Cassie Edwards

A historical romance about the Dakota tribe of MinnesotaWisconsin in the mid 1800s. I liked learning about the traditions of the Dakota at the time, but was less enthused with the love story. It’s part of a whole series. I think I’d like to try a Native American romance written by a Native American. Do you have one you can recommend?

The Case of the Secret Message by Parker C. Hinter
The Case of the Secret Message by Parker Hinter, Clue Jr. series #1

These were past my childhood years so I’d never read them, but I do LOVE the game of Clue. The Clue Club consists of 6 fourth graders (Mustard, Scarlet, Plum, White, Green, and Peacock) and they are mystery lovers. There are 8 mini mysteries each with one clue filled illustration to solve. We got them all but two 😂. Those fourth graders are super smart!

It was a fun, short book (84 pages) to read together and we have two more! Did you read these when you were younger? Or maybe your kids?

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.

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.