I Am Beauty by Riku Campo

I Am Beauty : Timeless Skincare and Beauty for Women 40 and Over by Riku Campo, photography by Samantha Rapp. Published 2021, 240 pages.

A gorgeous book for women over 40! I Am Beauty: Timeless Skincare and Beauty for Women 40 and Over prominently features women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. This book is a treat and if you are starting to think about holiday gifts you should definitely check this out for the mature women in your life. I’m so glad that I was gifted this copy by TLC Book Tours.

This isn’t about brands, but a routine that will give you healthier skin. Campo is a makeup artist and includes interviews with dermatologists and aestheticians, as well as with the 16 chosen women who received makeovers. Knowing how our skins changes and how our makeup choices also need new life is a lesson or reminder for us older ladies 💄

And all of the photos celebrating us? Beautiful!

As woman who has never taken good care of her skin and is spending her last few weeks in her 40s 😱 this book came at just the right time for a reset.

Check out what others have to say…

Review Stops

Monday, September 20th: A Bookish Way of Life

Tuesday, September 21st: Instagram: @readalotwritealot

Wednesday, September 22nd: Books, Cooks, and Looks

Thursday, September 23rd: Stacy’s Books

Friday, September 24th: What Is That Book About

Monday, September 27th: Instagram: @mrsboomreads

Tuesday, September 28th: Instagram: @pickagoodbook

Wednesday, September 29th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Thursday, September 30th: Bibliotica

Friday, October 1st: Instagram: @jenniaahava

Monday, October 4th: Run Wright

Tuesday, October 5th: Instagram: @nurse_bookie

Wednesday, October 6th: Instagram: @oddandbookish

Monday, October 11th: Instagram: @andrea.c.lowry.reads

Wednesday, October 13th: Instagram: @bookishly_overdue

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 ❤️❤️❤️❤️

It’s September?

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

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

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

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

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

A must read for history lovers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 – Finishing up school prep

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

Here’s what I’ve read this week…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you a sauna fan?

Okay, the book…The Last Thing He Told Me lived up to ALL of the hype! It’s so different from her other two books. It’s a thriller. One day a child knocks on Hannah’s door with a note, it’s from her husband and all it says is PROTECT HER. Bailey, the daughter. Comes home from school with a duffel bag full of cash that her dad had stuffed in her locker. Owen himself was missing.

That’s all you get. If you like thrillers this is a must read! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

This Week – ERs and sickness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paris in stories, page and screen

I’ve been reading, watching, drinking, and puzzling my way through the city for Paris in July and for my book a day challenge. Let’s see where I’ve been since Sunday…

We watched the 2011 movie Hugo and I tried some Chateau de Segries 2019 Cotes-du-Rhone from France for Paris in July. We hadn’t seen the movie or read the book about the orphan boy who could fix things and lived at a train station. The movie was good as was the full-bodied wine. I didn’t have a full second glass since it’s 14.5% alcohol. My body doesn’t handle red wine as well as it used to! It only took a few days to empty the bottle 🙂

I’ve also included a few pics taken from where we stayed our last night in Paris. Such beautiful views.



While the boys played in the river I took Lonely Planet Kids Paris City Trails for a northeast Ohio nature walk. I loved this book! It’s 100 pages of beautifully laid out facts with stories and photos. A few quick, fun facts from the different spreads shown.

“No ladders and buckets are needed to clean all the pyramid windows (the Louvre)- every three weeks the job is done by a remote-controlled robot.”

“Sixty-six feet below ground, in the limestone tunnels that sprawl beneath Paris, lie the skeletons of 6-7 million Parisians. The public can explore 1.43 miles of the tunnels, but that’s just a fraction of the 186 miles that actually exist.”

“In 2010, a Parisian park introduced chilled sparkling water to its drinking fountains to persuade Parisians that tap water was just as good as the stuff in plastic bottles.”

“$16 is the current fine for jumping into the Seine.” (This is shown with all of the Clevelanders in the Chagrin River)

“120. The number of bicorne hats Napoleon used during his military career.”

“The French have been eating frog legs since the 10th century. Today the French frogs are protected, so the frogs in Paris plates are often shipped in, live, from Asia.”

Sitting here with my coffee and new journal (❤️ @etsy ) enjoying this beautiful summer morning. I TRY to read an inspirational/meditative book and journal every morning, in reality it’s like 4 days a week.

I finished up my morning reading book for the last month, Peace is Every Breath by, my favorite, Thich Nhat Hanh. This isn’t my favorite of his, but it was okay. This could also count for this month’s challenge because he wrote it while living at his Plum Village retreat in France, but we also read..,

Madame Eiffel: The Love Story of the Eiffel Tower. I adored the illustrations, all back and white with highlights of pink. The story was okay, but after realizing it had no basis in reality I was confused 🤨 Don’t let your kids read it and think it’s true like I did.

And if you’re still reading, the photos are from outside Pompidou Center. We met our friends there because it was close to our last hotel. There was some crazy stuff in there. We were there a few hours before moving on, but I still remember vividly some of the installations, they were that bold and, some, disturbing.


I wanted to play Azul last night but Gage wanted to work on the Paris puzzle as a family. Last time I showed you the Eiffel Tower and now you get a peek at another “piece” of the puzzle 😄.

I also listened to this story collection by Jojo Moyes while working on the puzzle and running a few errands. I loved the longer first story, a novella really at 151 pages. It’s about two people finding each other at the wrong time. But can there really be a wrong time for true love? Nell falls in love with Paris and Fabian and goes back to England after their weekend romance, but is that the beginning or the end? I’m not telling.

The rest of the stories were entertaining, but brief, and mostly forgettable. Still, I liked the book as a whole even though I’m not a short story fan.

Paris fun to be continued…

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?

June is for reading :)

I’ve been reading, 190 books so far this year. For these first 11 days in June I watched one movie based on a book I read in February (The Sun Is Also A Star) and read 17 books, 8 of them picture books by or about the celebrated illustrator Jerry Pinkney. I also read 4 fiction/thrillers, 1 play, 1 chapbook about aliens, 1 non-fiction, 1 YA fiction, and 1 kids fiction. I’ve really needed the fiction escape it seems!

The first 5 on this list (I’m counting all of the Pinkney books as a whole) I would heartily recommend.

The Woman in the Window
The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Anna is agoraphobic, which began after a trauma the year before. She’s separated her family, has one therapist/frend, and access lots of alcohol and medication. She also has a camera and likes to keep an eye on her neighborhood. When new neighbors arrive at her doorstep, Anna’s carefully crafted (sad) life begins to unravel.

A fast-paced thriller perfect for summer. I really liked it. She’s an old movie buff, which I loved, and I need to go back and make a list of all the movies she mentioned so I can watch them (without a bottle of wine and pills).

The Last Flight
Last Flight by Julie Clark

Two women on opposite coasts are both in dangerous situations. They switch identities and flights and hope to evade the men sure to come looking for them. But one of the flights crashes.

Two compelling women with two compelling stories. I liked the back and forth and the switch between then and now. I was even surprised at the end (but probably shouldn’t have been).

I had a fun time with this one.

The Boy at the Top of the Mountain
The Boy at the Top of the Mountain by John Boyne

I picked up John Boyne’s young adult historical and breezed right through it. He has the rare talent of writing unlikeable characters and still putting together a compelling story. A Ladder of Years is my favorite, but others will remember The Boy in the Striped Pajamas best.

In this short (260 pages) book, 7 year old Pierrot loses both parents, his best friend, and his home city of Paris as he sent to an orphanage. His aunt finds him and brings him to Berghof, where she is head housekeeper. Of course, this is also Hitler’s home in the Bavarian Alps. Hitler takes a special interest in the boy and Pierrot’s fate is sealed.

Can he recover from the things he did while so young? A good book about how any child’s future is shaped by their circumstances as well as their spirit. A tragic story but not one without hope.

I will read anything he writes.

The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes
The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain

I loved this one! A teen who had no support, a man who needed her for a kidnapping scheme, death, stolen babies, changed identities and a lifetime of guilt. What’s not to love? And I really love the cover ❤️

Jerry Pinkney by Lisa M B Simons, The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney, A Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech That Inspired a Nation by Barry Wittenstein, The Three Bill Goats Gruff by Jerry Pinkney, The Talking Eggs: A Folktale from the American South by Robert D San Souci, John Henry by Julius Lester, Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman by Alan Schroeder, The Further Adventures of Spider: West African Folktales by Joyce Cooper Arkhurst

Philadelphia born artist Pinkney has won numerous awards for his illustrations of children’s books, novels, magazines, and even a series of postage stamps starting in 1977. He’s still sharing his passion with the world at 81.

The Talking Eggs was my favorite. A sister is abused by her mother and sister, but is rewarded with her pure heart. It was a little more detailed than the other retellings of this Creole folktale and I loved it.

My other favorite was the classic John Henry, also different than other versions I’ve read, but I’m always up for a story about the legendary man. The song I learned as a kid still goes through my mind every time. Anyone else?

They’re all good. A Place To Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech That Inspired a Nation is his most recent work (2019) and the first time he used collage. And The Lion and the Mouse (2009) is a wordless book that tells one of Aesop’s fables. And I always love reading the African tales about that wily Spider 🕷

I Survived the Joplin Tornado, 2011 (I Survived, #12)
I Survived: The Joplin Tornado, 2011 by Lauren Tarshis

I Survived The Joplin Tornado, 2011 was our before bed book for the week. I thought it was scarier than the last one we read about the Chicago Fire. At the end of a few of the chapters I wasn’t sure he’d make it – then I reminded myself the book I series is called I Survived 😆

The writing is simple and the books have a few pictures for interest and that makes them something Gage enjoys. So, for that I am grateful. Finding books that he is interested in reading continues to be a bit of a struggle and this series is a safe bet.

Tornadoes scare me. Have you ever experienced one firsthand?

This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance!
This is Your Life, Harriet Chance by Jonathan Evison

I both listened a read and much preferred the audio. I liked that it was different, but I can’t say I loved the book.

Harriet, 79, is a recent widow with a shaky relationship with her kids. Her marriage was meh and she’s stuck in a rut. Enter the Alaskan cruise her late husband had won and his visits from beyond the grave and you have the start of an interesting story. I just didn’t care for the this-is-your-life way the story moved from one time to the next.

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Strange Land by The Poet’s Haven

Strange Land from Poet’s Haven Digest, 2017 is a chapbook given to me by a friend at the library who just happen to write the very first poem, #greenlivesmatter. There were poems and stories all with a different take on our alien friends and their feelings on us Earthlings. Made more interesting by the government’s recent acknowledgment of UFOs 👽 It was a fun, fast read perfect for the unofficial start of summer.

A Streetcar Named Desire
A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

I was hoping that this would provide insight into the classic movie, which I don’t like at all. Unfortunately, I ended up disliking the characters even more 😂

Blanche comes to live with her sister Stella and Stella’s husband Stanley. The three of them bump into and around each other in a small apartment until damage is done. Unlikeable characters in a sad tragedy of a story. But, hey, it’s a classic for a reason, so what do I know?

The Joy of Doing Just Enough by Jennifer McCartney
The Joy of Doing Just Enough by Jennifer McCaartney

The book, while tongue in cheek, isn’t quite funny enough for satire. It does its best to lower expectations at work, at home, in relationships, but, unfortunately, I couldn’t let go of my hope for more.

What’s been your favorite June read so far? Anything I need add to my reading list? Extra points if it’s on the shorter side 🙂

Finishing up May

As the homeschool year was winding down, I found it harder to focus on reading, so Jason and I watched two bookish movies this week. We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Woman in the Window. I wrote a post comparing the book and movie, We Have Always Lived in the Castle. So, two movies and 9 books to finish up the month.

2 thrillers, 2 fiction, 2 kids non-fiction, 1 non-fiction picture book, 1 kids fiction, and 1 cult classic.

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
Our Souls At Night by Kent Haruf

What a lovely book! I flew through this story about living boldly and making your own second chances. A quiet, spare book with a big heart.

Addie and Louis, both in their 70s and widowed were lonely. One day Addie walks around the block, knocks on his door, and asks Louis if he would like to spend nights in her bed. No funny business, just talk and sleep. He showed up at her house with his pajamas and a toothbrush in a brown paper bag after dark, they drank one glass of wine and a friendship began.

It’s not a love story, it’s a life story. It didn’t end as I expected or even hoped but I loved this book!

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
We Have Always Lived at the Castle by Shirley Jackson

 I loved the narration by Bernadette Dunne. She captured Merricat perfectly.

There’s a village and an estate that rules them all, at least in the mind of Merricat who lives the big house with her older sister Constance and ailing Uncle Julian. The rest of the family had been poisoned six years before and Constance had been acquitted of their murders, but now she never left the estate.

It was ominous and creepy, two things that go well together. I felt a little let down by the ending, but after some reflection and reading a few reviews, I saw things that I had missed initially. It made the story richer, but only after the fact 😁 It would be a fun group read with friends, and at 146 pages it would appeal to non-readers as well.

2034 by Elliot Ackerman
2034 by Eliot Ackerman and Admiral James Stavridis

In 2034 the US has a woman president who isn’t affiliated with a political party. So, right off the bat, things are good, but we barely hear from her. This global conflict is told by military and political personnel from the US, China, Iran, and India.

I really liked getting a taste from the different countries and the four main characters were interesting. Are nuclear weapons in the next world war inevitable? It’s a sobering look at what lies ahead. Written by an ex-Marine and Admiral.

This was a fast, exciting read.

Who Was George Washington Carver? by Jim Gigliotti
Who Was George Washington Carver by Jim Gigliotti

George led an inspiring life. Born into slavery, being left for dead as a baby, taken in and raised by the Carver’s, George left at 13 years old to walk to a town that would teach blacks in school. He lived this way, getting town to town looking for more educational opportunities for much of his young life. He became the first black to graduate from Simpson College and the first college graduate and faculty member at Iowa State.

It was his years at Tuskegee Institute that made him famous and led to awards and accolades. He cared about the earth, the farmer, the food we eat, and doing his best to leave a positive mark on the world. He most certainly did that.

Who Was Milton Bradley? by Kirsten Anderson
Who Was Milton Bradley by Kirsten Anderson

Milton Bradley loved games, as a way to be social (he had dinner parties almost every night), to fill the time (he made special game sets for soldiers during the Civil War), and to teach (he became very involved in the kindergarten movement and toys for teachers).

He was always creating. He also took a nap everyday and shut down the machines in the company so he could do so in quiet 😂. He loves a good nap even more than I do and I’m a huge nap proponent. He worked hard, he played hard, and he stuck up for the things that mattered to him. A great read and one that reinforced our discussion from the movie Soul.

Pie Girl by Ellen Potter
Piper Green and the Fairy Tree: Pie Girl by Ellen Potter

 This is the fifth in the Piper Green series, Pie Girl. I didn’t know this was part of a series when I requested it from the library, but we enjoyed the 126 page book anyway. Piper lives on an island of the coast of Maine and the ship that comes with the doctor once a year is set to arrive. The town hosts a potluck every year and this is the year she gets the coveted Pie Girl title. She also has a secret fairy tree and the latest gift from the fairies is an eye patch, so she becomes Pirate Pie Girl. Cute story with lovely illustrations for early elementary kids.

Earmuffs for Everyone! by Meghan Mccarthy
Earmuffs for Everyone; How Chester Greenwood Became Known as the Inventor of Earmuffs by Meghan McCarthy

Earmuff For Everyone was how Chester Greenwood became known as the inventor of the earmuff, a parade being held in his hometown every year. Only he didn’t invent them, but did improve upon the design. This is such a great lesson for kids to learn about researching and seeking out the truth. Loved this one.

The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa
The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa

 I listened and read the book. I really liked the narration, but wish they’d had someone else read the story within a story to.make it less confusing. I’m so much looking forward to what everyone has to say about it! This was originally published in Japan in 1994, but only translated to English in 2019.

Things are slowly disappearing from the island. Roses, hats, birds are all being taken away from the inhabitants and the militant Memory Police are ensuring compliance and sniffing out those few who remember everything. Our narrator decides to hide her editor in her home before the Memory Police take him away and kill him, like they did her mother.

Is it dystopian? Sci-fi? A cautionary tale? Surrealist? I found it all of these things. I liked the idea of it and I liked the writing and that was enough for most of the book, but in the end it sort of fell apart for me.

Personal by Lee Child
Personal by Lee Child

Personal, the 19th in the Jack Reacher series, takes us abroad in search of a skilled marksman that Reacher put away many years ago, it who is now taking shots at world leaders.

The book was good, not likely one I’ll remember, but I always enjoy spending time with Reacher.